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Button-pushing elevator dramas have ups and downs

February 12, 2007|From the Associated Press

LOUISVILLE, KY. — Not many plays can claim standing-room-only status.

Specific Gravity Ensemble, however, is stacking the odds in its favor.

The group of 20 artists, whose talents include acting, directing, writing and designing, is putting on 24 plays, all under two minutes each, on four elevators traveling 14 floors in a building in downtown Louisville.

One or two cast members join eight to 10 audience members in an elevator and begin their ride to the 15th floor of the Starks Building, a 14-story stone-and-glass structure designed by architect Daniel Burnham and built in 1913.

Four of the building's elevators are used for the performance.

Glibly titled, "Ascent-Descent/Assent-Dissent," the plays were commissioned specifically to be performed in elevator cars.

The ensemble received close to 100 scripts from 38 playwrights from around the United States and Canada.

The writers were asked to take a routine event -- riding an elevator -- and turn it into a "fast-paced" piece of intimate theater.

"I want [the audience] to think about the stories the next time they get in an elevator," production manager Randy Pease said. "I want them to think about the lives around them the next time they get on an elevator."

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