Media technology

The City Theater of Pittsburgh revisits a 25-year-old play exploring media and technology


city ​​theater in Pittsburgh brings back a play that first appeared on stage 25 years ago.

“The Medium”, a postmodern deconstruction of the writer/philosopher’s reflections marshal McLuhanwill run from January 22 to February 13 on the main stage of the City Theater on the south side of Pittsburgh.

The third show of the 2021-22 subscription season is presented by New York City ITIS Society.

“The production was originally created in 1993 and designed to explore the then burgeoning field of technology through the lens of Marshall McLuhan,” said Anne Bogart, co-artistic director of SITI Company, who designed the piece. “We follow the celebrated Canadian media studies philosopher on an Alice in Wonderland-like journey through the landscape of his deep reflections on the effects of media on the human experience.

“Now, nearly 30 years later, the piece feels even more relevant to the world we inhabit today than it did when we first created it,” she said. .

First seen at the City Theater in 1996, “‘The Medium’ explores the effect of media and emerging technologies on our perceptions, psyches and personal lives,” according to a statement.

“‘The Medium’ is structured on the well-known ‘hero’s journey’ narrative format, which can be found in stories and fairy tales around the world and throughout history,” Bogart said. “Our hero is based on the great Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan who, in the 1960s, was able to predict what would happen to us when media, digital technology and the Internet dominated our lives.”

Through the TV screen

In a confused state after suffering a stroke, McLuhan’s character finds himself transported, like “Alice Through the Looking Glass”, into the world of television.

Unable to speak, McLuhan “goes from channel to channel, experiencing first-hand the fulfillment of his deepest and most insightful dreams,” Bogart said.

“The scenes in ‘The Medium’ are presented in the form of television genres, including classic varieties like a western, hospital drama, game show, family show, chat show, and more,” he said. -she adds. “Each form of genre functions as a container for different ideas and themes from Marshall McLuhan’s writings. McLuhan himself, our main character, walks through this television landscape.

Courtesy of SITI

Will Bond will appear in the SITI Company production of “The Medium,” from January 22 through February 22. 13 at the City Theater in Pittsburgh.

Directed by Bogart, “The Medium” features performers William Bond, Gian-Murray Gianino, Ellen Lauren, Barney O’Hanlon, Violeta Picayo and Stephen Duff Webber.

“You can see the irony that this prescient philosopher, who spoke and wrote so eloquently and playfully about media and culture, should suffer from the inability to communicate,” Bond said. “In that way, you could call her a modern-day Cassandra who is shrewd enough to sound the warning, but doomed to have her warnings not believed by her own culture.”

The other characters are ordinary people facing extraordinary changes brought about by a rapidly changing world, in expressionistic and collage-like scenes. The text is drawn from the writings of McLuhan, expressionist writings of the 1920s and modern media.

“The scenes, movements and moments change abruptly, sometimes manically, suddenly lyrically, like the blips and beeps of electronic media,” Bogart said.

Problems stemming from widespread information sharing — and misinformation — date back to the advent of the printing press, Bogart said.

McLuhan was “the first person able to express the stress and complexity of the world we now find ourselves in,” she said. “He was the ancestor of notions as familiar as ‘the global village’ and ‘the medium is the message’. He began to understand the effect of media and emerging technologies on our perceptions, our psyche and our personal life.

Exploring these questions is what theater is all about, Bond said.

“Among the eternal questions of the theatre, there is ‘Who are we? Do we know what is happening to us? And above all, how can we get along better or function better together? ” ” he said.

Set and lighting is by ITIS Society member Brian H. Scott, costumes are by Obie Award winner Gabriel Berry, and soundscape is by Tony Award winner Darron L. West. Patti Kelly is the production manager.

Glad to be back

Following its newly adapted Pittsburgh revival, the production will head to New York’s Brooklyn Academy of Music.

“We are excited and thrilled to bring our production of ‘The Medium’ back to the City Theater,” Bogart said. “Our long association with Pittsburgh, Marc Masterson and City Theater conspires to make this event meaningful.”

“City Theater is proud to be a part of the past, present and future of the internationally acclaimed company SITI,” said Masterson, Co-Artistic Director of City Theatre. “This collaboration spans four decades and has generated productions that have been seen all over the world.”

Five plays have been created between the two companies since the original Pittsburgh staging of “The Medium”.

Masks and proof of vaccination or negative covid-19 test will be required of all members of the public. Exceptions will be made for guests under the age of 12, who must be accompanied by an adult who meets the site’s vaccination requirements, and for guests who require reasonable accommodations due to a medical or emergency exception. a sincere religious belief.

For more information and tickets, call 412-431-2489 or visit

Shirley McMarlin is editor of Tribune-Review. You can contact Shirley at 724-836-5750, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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