Since closing its production of The Artist Will Be with You in a Moment mid-run at the A.R.T./New York Theatres this past March, with the coronavirus pandemic shutdown of all live performances, Parallel Exit – an internationally acclaimed three-time Drama Desk nominee for Unique Theatrical Experience – shifted its focus to presenting new productions online, absolutely free. Among the offerings were ten episodes of the series MOVE IT!, featuring physical theater, variety, and circus artists, a family variety show for the Brooklyn Public Library, and free workshops for New York City public school students through the “Summer In The City” program.
The latest initiative from the inventive and engaging company, dedicated to creating original works of physical theater, is Elevator Pitch, a free online physical-comedy video series for all ages. Each witty episode, presenting bite-sized bits of physical comedy to watch from the safety and comfort of your own digital device, is 60 seconds or less (as long as it takes to ride an elevator) and delivers the punchline by the time you reach your floor, laughing. And who doesn’t need a laugh right now?
Directed by Mark Lonergan (Founding Artistic Director of Parallel Exit), the video installments are created and performed remotely by long-time company members and collaborators Lex Alston, Darien Crago, Danny Gardner, Joel Jeske, and Derek Roland. Recent videos include a selection of hilarious Halloween-themed treats, along with such assorted pop-culture titles as “Baking with BerbieTM,” “When the Caffeine Hits,” “The Puppeteer’s Dilemma,” “A Little Known Fact about Mark Twain,” and “Shia LaBeouf’s acclaimed performance of a tree in a middle school production of Honk The Musical” – an uproarious variety that’s sure to appeal to everyone who appreciates masterful comedic performances and cleverly conceived subjects.
According to Lonergan, “The idea for Elevator Pitch came from a desire to share Parallel Exit’s unique brand of physical comedy during our collective pause on live performance. Like many of our colleagues, we’re learning to become filmmakers by necessity, and we got very excited about the idea of sharing a series of comedy film shorts with the world. Knowing there is so much online content, we are purposely limiting every video to 60 seconds or less – about the time of an elevator ride – to offer audiences a quick laugh to start their day.”
For the company’s new creative endeavor, he goes on to explain, “We brought together a group of physical comedians to put the series together. We have a regular ‘writer’s room’ Zoom call every week, in which we pitch ideas, give feedback, and construct a prompt or creative challenge for the group. We think about how to frame shots and ideas, how to use titles, where and when to place a punchline, and ultimately how to think like comic filmmakers.”
To watch Elevator Pitch, visit Parallel Exit’s Facebook page or Instagram account. I think everyone will agree that they’ve succeeded in bringing a much-needed lift to their devoted fans worldwide and to new virtual audiences everywhere!