In this interview with Extended Play, members of the original cast of "This Beautiful City" talk about the show's origins, Michael Friedman's legacy and the bittersweet experience of recording the new album.
Quality, value, convenience.
For the past twenty five years, American insomniacs have been lulled by the hypnotic late night glow of QVC and the Home Shopping Network. Bird baths, tennis bracelets, can openers, and a host with dazzling veneers gently assuring you – yes, you – that they could, they should, they can be yours. All for a low low price of twenty nine ninety nine a month. Or something like that.
Before the bespoke advertising algorithms of Facebook and Instagram, and convenience economy companies like seamless and Fresh Direct imploring us to, for god’s sake, stay in our homes, there was HSN and QVC. And with them, a way to imagine your new identity within the comfort of your own home. Call a number, and have your new identity delivered to your door. “Untitled CREDIT Project” imagines a world when the Home Shopping Network (then called the Home Shopping Club) had just hit the scene on suburban cul de sacs across the country, along with the rising prevalence of credit card use.
Like many cult culture treasures, the Home Shopping Club was created by freak accident. Before it became the Home Shopping Network as we know it, HSN was a radio station. In 1977, a major advertiser struggled with liquidity problems and paid the company entirely in can openers. HSN sold the items on the air to its listeners. Needless to say, it became a success.
We are digging into home shopping mania from its inception and creating a kaleidoscopic world of women glued to their TV sets. With a few fun bloopers along the way.
Molly Beach Murphy (creator/writer) is a playwright and director from Galveston, Texas. Full length plays include: “Cowboy Bob”; “Molly Murphy & Neil deGrasse Tyson On Our Last Day On Earth”; “Big Bend in the Red Dirt Desert” and “GALVESTON.” Directing credits include: “What It’s Like When Two Geeks Love Each Other” (by Jaclyn Backhaus, Williamstown), “Big Bend in the Red Dirt Desert” (Williamtown). Affiliations: Page 73 Interstate 73 Writer’s Group member, Civilians’ R&D Group member, New York Theatre Workshop Adelphi Resident, Ars Nova Project Residency, UArts Polyphone Festival, New Georges Affiliated Artist. Semi-finalist for the 2017 Page 73 Playwriting Fellowship. Published works in The Hairpin & Santa Ana River Review. www.mollybeachmurphy.com
Jeanna Phillips (creator/music) Jeanna Phillips makes and performs new theatre and music. Recent music for theatre includes “Secret Supper” (the Africa Center); “what’s this called, this spirit?” (Ars Nova, Dixon Place), both with Alex Thrailkill. “Cowboy Bob” (Ars Nova, Yale Institute for Music Theatre, NYTW Adelphi Residency); “Cooking to me is Poetry” (with New Saloon at Galapagos Art Space). Her clown-cabaret alter ego Andréa Lloyd Webber has wreaked havoc at Ars Nova, La MaMa, Dixon Place, Littlefield, and the ACE Hotel. As a performer she’s developed work with Toshi Reagon, The Foundry Theatre, Tectonic Theatre Project, Clubbed Thumb, Karen O and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Cynthia Hopkins, Dave Malloy, and Elizabeth Swados, among others. Most recently: “Toshi Reagon’s Parable of the Sower” (The Public).
Annie Tippe (creator/director) Directing includes Dave Malloy’s “Ghost Quartet” (The Bushwick Starr, etc); Bess Wohl’s “Continuity” (The Goodman Theatre); Anne Washburn’s “When the Tanks Break” (Drama League); “Washeteria” (Soho Rep); “James + Jerome’s MUSEUM: Lecture and Aaron/Marie” (both co-directed w. Rachel Chavkin); “Far Away” (Harvard) and “Cowboy Bob” (Yale Institute for Music Theatre; Ars Nova; 2018 Polyphone Festival). Creator/Director of web series “BASIC WITCH.” Co-composer for “Folk Wandering” (Pipeline Theater Company). Associate Director for The TEAM’S touring productions of “Mission Drift” and “RoosevElvis” (dir. Rachel Chavkin) and Gabriel Kahane’s “The Ambassador” (BAM; dir. John Tiffany). Ars Nova’s 2016 Director-in-Residence, Drama League Fall Directing Fellow, WTF Directing Corps, New Georges Audrey Resident. www.annietippe.com.