We never complain, but my coworkers and I can never agree on the temperature in our office. My husband refers to celebratory occasions at his work as “the tyranny of birthday cake”. We spend the majority of our waking life at our jobs, professionally dealing with the personal idiosyncrasies of our coworkers and creating a set of family-like rituals to manage these sometimes mundane, occasionally awkward, and always important and unique relationships.
Chelfitsch’s Hot Pepper, Air Conditioner, and the Farewell Speech is a set of three vignettes that speak to the notion of “work family” with charm, humor and wit. Each part is premised on entirely realistic situations of office politics – Why do the temps have to plan the farewell party? Who keeps turning the air conditioner on high? Why is adorable (if slightly unstable) Erika being let go and what will she do now? – but through repeated speech, stylized gestures and dance moves with props, dramatic lighting, shadows and music, the piece builds suspense, elevates the pettiness and gets the audience to laugh at what they see of their own behavior at work on stage.
According to their website the word chelfitsch was coined by company founder Toshiki Okada and “represents the baby-like disarticulation of the English word ‘selfish’.” Notions of selfishness pervade this year’s festival from Bucky Fuller’s naïve dream that everyone share the world’s resources to Keith Hennessy’s warning on the desperate state of the economy, so it was quite a lovely surprise that Hot Pepper etc. – a piece so literally about work – provided a fresh breath of frivolity for the start of my weekend.
Posted by Laura Becker
Photo by G.K. Wilson