Over the Top began as one act play. The goal was simple. Help an audience with varying degrees of knowledge gain a bit more of an understanding of the geopolitical movements that led to World War One and have a little fun while at it. The nations of the time were recast as guests at a garden party:
Omar (Ottoman Empire)
Little Prick (Austro- Hungary)
This dark absurd comedy translates the web of relationships in Europe into more human scale. Frank and Francine are still in a custody dispute over Al and Lorraine, Angela would prefer that Frank stop trying to upset her place in the sun, and Boris is cool and calm until his nephew, Serbia gets is threatened by Little Prick over the breaking of a John Wayne. It might be just one little figure, but the Duke's demise sets off a widening family feud that only ends with everyone battered, blinded, or broke (except for Sam, who go to the party late).
But like a simple little spat in the Balkans a hundred years, ago, this project has grown:
The play has been rewritten and expanded to include meals for the audience, live music that spans a century, and the Last Living Veteran's attempts to keep score. It also now incorporate the two other major strands of storytelling:
Games with the audience
Digital art providing alternate perspectives of the actions on stage
The images below are from the production of the original one act version at the Think Tank Festival in Providence, RI and from the reading that was part of the Process Series at University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill where Joseph Megel hosted us as we worked to develop the game playing element.