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On the TV Watch : Creators of an experimental piece vent opinions about television, among other things.

July 23, 1993|JANICE ARKATOV | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Janice Arkatov writes about theater for Valley Life

"XTV" is a lot of things.

There are video pieces. The ater sketches. Live music. Poetry. Magic. Dance. Sometimes they blend into one another.

" 'XTV' stands for experimental theater and video," explains Scott Cervine, whose 75-minute, six-person piece opens tonight at the Burbank Little Theatre. "The show starts with a video of us on our way to the theater, then we come out--live--as part of the video piece."

"Some of it is comical; some is satirical parodies," offers Craig Thomas. "The idea was that we wanted to perform, to say things--our opinions of television and things in general: how absurd most of television is, how many people apparently watch it, the level of violence that everyone accepts. Being in my mid-30s, I watched a lot of television growing up. I'm of the first generation really brought up on TV."

Cervine and Thomas created "XTV" together, and both perform in it. "People my age know more about 'Gilligan's Island' and 'The Addams Family' than 'Grimm's Fairy Tales,' " said Thomas, who grew up in Decatur, Ill., and worked for 13 years as a keyboard musician in Minnesota before moving to Los Angeles 1 1/2 years ago. The writer-performer has few illusions about the essence of TV as popular culture: "It's all tied in to marketing and selling something."

Directed by Leslie Pennick, the "XTV" program includes Cervine's performance-poetry piece about the frustrations of spending so much time in the car--on stage, the actor is strapped into an office chair with a seat belt--and Thomas accompanies on maracas. In another sketch, Thomas puts on war paint and tells of going to a Native American festival with his 4-year-old daughter. There is also a musical homage to David Bowie's "Boys" (Thomas performs four live numbers in all), and nostalgia snapshots of the two creators as children.

"We started playing with ideas within the group, and Craig and I just hit it off," notes Cervine, whose past appearances at the theater include "Town Meeting" and the recent "Conversations With the Living." "We have similar skills, and our points of view seem to mesh. It feels very synchronized." Although both were involved in every aspect of the show's construction, Cervine's major responsibility was the video portion, while Thomas was in charge of the music.

WHERE AND WHEN

What: "XTV."

Location: Burbank Little Theatre in George Izay Park, 1100 Clark Ave., Burbank.

Hours: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Closes Aug. 28.

Price: $8 to $12.

Call: (818) 954-9858.

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