Time’s Arrow CLOSES this weekend – see it Oct 20, 21 and 22 at 8PM at the Ballard Underground in Seattle. Tickets available at Brown Paper Tickets.
Christine Riippi first performed with Seattle Experimental Theater in the cast of 2013’s “Wedding Horror Stories”, followed by “The Wolf and the Witch” (2014/2015). She is now appearing in Time’s Arrow through October 22, and shared her thoughts below on the experience and the show through her mother’s eyes.
“My Mom Liked It!” by Christine Riippi
A couple months ago, I saw an audition posting for Seattle Experimental Theater’s newest show, “Time’s Arrow”. Along with the usual time, date, and contact information, there was a brief description of the show: “The spaces around us are full of history and potential; haunted by ghosts and gilded by dreams. Halls and streets and fields are rich with meaning defined by wonderful, terrible, forgettable, and sublime individual and collective experiences, yet we exist in them for only one moment at a time.” Well, that sounded incredibly interesting, intense, and slightly wacky. And like nothing I had ever seen on stage, especially in an improvised show. So I signed up and hoped to find out a little more about this mysterious “Time’s Arrow”.
Fast forward to Opening Night. My mom was to attend and I was explaining the premise of the show to her as we carpooled to the Ballard Underground. As a dedicated supporter of my improv habit, she has been to her share of shows where the performers do not memorize lines. Not every show has stuck the landing (“It was fun, but I liked ‘Wicked’ – remember ‘Wicked’? She flew!”), and now know to brief her before each show so she will know what to expect.
Christine Riippi (L) and Sarah Scheller (R) in SET’s world premiere production of “Time’s Arrow”.
“So it’s a time travel show?” she asked.
“Sort of,” I answered, “But more like time-hopping. There’s no time machine or anything like that.”
“And you stay in the same place?”
“Yeah, we show big moments and events that happen in the same space, but it’s at any point in time. They might overlap, but they might not. So you could see when the place was built, or when it burned down, or when the space aliens invaded in the year 3046.”
“And you make it up as you go?” (A classic question, familiar to any improviser.)
I do not know if my explanation was satisfactory or if it just confused her more. But this is improv; I have no idea what it is going to be “about” until we are in it. Luckily, the show went off without a hitch. The audience did not leave and nobody threw perishables at the performers, so I counted it as a win. When I found my mom after the show, I asked, “What’d you think?” Her answer delighted me: “That was one of the best shows I’ve seen!”
Okay, I know what you’re thinking. I am her daughter and she loves me and wouldn’t tell me anything other than good things. Maybe you’re right. But then she went on to compliment specific moments in the show and characters she liked, plus shared her ideas on what she thought might have happened in the location during the specific time periods we didn’t portray in the show. She even added, “I’m going to come back next weekend – I want to suggest the place!”
For the remainder of the weekend we enjoyed lovely audiences, including a group of fearless souls who braved Seattle’s Storm of the Century on Saturday night. Over the course of three days, we explored a parsonage in the Cayman Islands, the original tasting room at the Jack Daniel’s distillery in Tennessee, and saw several versions of Seattle’s own Salty’s on Alki. We created moments of adventure, sadness, romance, terror, and even a little whimsy, all occurring throughout the life of the location.
This show is a reminder that we are merely a brief chapter in the story of the places around us. We are just passing through. After this weekend, the show will be closed, but it will exist in time as a part of the story of Seattle Experimental Theater and the Ballard Underground. Even after weeks of rehearsals and several performances, “Time’s Arrow” is still like nothing I have ever seen or participated in onstage. The best way to understand what we’re creating and doing up there, is to come by and see it. It is wonderfully original, not to mention entertaining. But don’t take my word for it. Just ask my mom. She’ll be there on Saturday night.