Ceaseless Fun: They Who Saw the Deep
“The existential search always brings us back – not to ourselves, but to each other.” (Derek Spencer, Creator/Director, Ceaseless Fun)
The second production in Ceaseless Fun’s The Outline of a Human, They Who Saw the Deep (TWSTD) reimagines The Epic of Gilgamesh for a contemporary audience. By splintering the main character of Gilgamesh into the different personas of the focused and grounded ensemble, Ceaseless Fun allows guests to experience several varying perspectives on mortality and legacy.
In Gilgamesh, his companion Enkidu dies early in life due to an illness after winning fame for his heroic adventures. Gilgamesh, suffering greatly from his loss, goes on a quest in search of immortality. It is here that TWSTD begins…
Welcome to the Deep
TWSTD utilizes myriad performance styles – literary collage, immersive theater, physical theater and song – to ask “How can we build community? How can we conceive of our own mortality? How can we see the deep?”
Beginning as a “sandbox” where guests can roam freely, TWSTD leads us, two at a time, into an open space adorned with plastic, where we watch and sometimes interact with the actors. We can go wherever we want and the actors go through their narratives whether one person watches or twenty. Accompanied by a light, melancholic score by Dakota Loesch, the fractal versions of Gilgamesh fill their space, sometimes speaking to us, sometimes walking by, sometimes pulling someone aside to listen, or in my case, to hold a comforting hand to an actor’s cheek in silence.
After a somewhat physical, group interlude, the actors of TWSTD separate the guests to go upstairs, to a track-based experience. Much like The Willows or Creep L.A.’s Lore, the actors guide us on a more specific journey to brilliantly detailed sets and tell us their engaging stories, before culminating the night with more questions to ponder as we leave the deep.
As I walked around the space, it was difficult to take everything in and I would find myself captivated by an actor, following them for a little while before moving on to another. Sometimes the noises being made by other performers disrupted my intense focus on someone, other times outside disturbances couldn’t tear me away, or my attention would flit about and never land on anyone specifically. Needless to say, I didn’t see even half of what TWSTD has to offer, and I wondered afterward what I missed, whose stories I didn’t get to hear, what connections I didn’t get to make. Since TWSTD is immersive, with multiple “tracks” and no real “story” to follow, there is an innate ability to see the show multiple times to follow different actors, hear their stories and be affected differently. Ahead of the production, Ceaseless Fun told guests to not open or close doors. At first only having the bottom floor available to us, more doors steadily opened for us to explore deeper into the psyche of the different versions of Gilgamesh presented to us. As we got more comfortable listening, “he” got more comfortable sharing with us.
“All that matters is that we’re here together – you and I.” (a version of Gilgamesh, as she lays her head on my shoulder)
The impeccable cast: Juliet Deem, Lauren Hayes, Max Hersey, Jordana Lilly, Matthew Maguire, Mike Merchant, Scott Monahan, Soren Royer-McHugh, Jinny Ryann
They Who Saw the Deep runs through May 20th in Koreatown. Buy tickets here (some “income accessibility” tickets available).