When discussions of inequality as a social force became mainstream

The world premiere reading of Rick Burkhardt’s latest project, Five Hundred, is coming to our Week of Extraordinary Risk on July 1, 4:30PM. In advance of the reading, we learned a bit more from Rick about the seeds of inspiration for this new play, which centers on the notion of language as a limited resource.

Learn more in our interview below and reserve your seat now for Five Hundred, July 1, 4:30PM, Jefferson Market Library (425 6th Ave, NYC).

Pipeline Theatre Company: What do you want us to know about your play?
Rick Burkhardt: The play takes place in a world (or a theater) in which each character only has 500 words they can speak.  Initially that doesn’t seem to be a crisis, but pretty soon each character has to develop strategies to avoid speaking, or at least to avoid speaking much.

PTC: When and where did you decide to start writing this play?
RB: It’s been kicking around in my head for years.  I think it dates back at least to Occupy Wall Street days, when discussions of inequality as a social force became mainstream.

PTC: What excites you most about this project?
RB: I like the idea of language as a limited resource — the world of the play makes certain words and phrases seem special just by virtue of the fact that someone who had limited words left decided to speak them at all.  I also, in general, love to avoid too much literalness in a play — and this setup ensures that almost nothing in the play exists only on a literal plane.

PTC: In one sentence, tell us something strange that happens in your play.
RB: There’s a character who tries to deliver an art history lecture without using words.

PTC: Are you working on anything else?
RB: After the next few weeks of working on this script, I’ll be returning to a chamber music piece that’s been wanting attention — it’s a violin sonata in which the violinist is performing a demented TED talk while playing.

PTC: What’s next for you?
RB: I’ll be a resident artist at the Millay Colony for the month of July, and then in August I start rehearsals for Andrew Butler’s concert/musical Rags Parkland Sings the Songs of the Future at Ars Nova (I play a robot accordionist, of course).

About Five Hundred

by Rick Burkhardt | directed by Joshua William Gelb
Sunday, July 1, 4:30PM
Jefferson Market Library | 425 6th Ave, NYC
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In this play, each character may speak only 500 words before falling forever silent. So how can they form relationships, have kids, build legacies, or solve the mystery of the missing painting? And why does that one guy talk so much?