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Before the doe-saster: ‘Fawnbook’ imagines an analog apocalypse

The Brooklyn Paper
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Hold on for deer life!Food is scarce, hope is staggering, and the apocalypse is looming in “Fawnbook,” a new play about a tiny farm community inspired by the sight of a wild deer, opening at the Brick Theater in Williamsburg on Nov. 5.

The characters in the play have no Internet access, but all of their dialogue is drawn from real-life posts on Facebook or Twitter, complete with spoken “likes.” Their struggle to build a community reflects the difficult relationships we build on social media, says the play’s writer.

“There’s definitely some callousness that comes to light,” says playwright Ayun Halliday, who also acts in the play. “At one point, there’s a character who is clearly very hurt and wants to be consoled and my character gives back a heart emoticon. I do hope that people will think about social media, maybe ask ‘Wow, is that the way we are communicat­ing?’ ”

Audiences who hoof it to the show might contemplate how digital media has destroyed their interpersonal skills, but they should not share that insight on their smartphones. For the Nov. 11 show, Halliday will ask the audience to set aside digital devices and draw the show with pencils and sketchbooks, an analog approach that she hopes will bring them closer to the performance.“Cellphone brain keeps you at arm’s length from the action,” she said. “Sketchbook brain draws you in, opens your senses, and preserves the memory even if your eyes have to travel back and forth between the stage and the page.”Halliday based the play off of an improv sketch, which was itself inspired by a Facebook conversation about finding a fawn in a backyard. “Fawnbook” similarly opens with a woman describing an encounter with a lone fawn, news that bucks up her fellow survivors, all of whom want to see the fawn for themselves, and to see it survive.

“The fawn has represented different things in different cultures, mostly good things like rebirth and gentleness,” said Halliday. “So we’re in this world where things are getting really terrible, near the end even for our small band, but the community is still captivated by the fawn.” A 40-minute version of “Fawnbook” got a brief test run last week in the distant isle of Manhattan, allowing Halliday and her crew to shake out any problems before the full, hour-long version opens for more-discerning Brooklyn audiences on Nov 5.“Fawnbook” at the Brick Theater (579 Metropolitan Ave. between Lorimer Street and Union Avenue, www.bricktheater.com) $18. Nov. 5, 7, 9, 11, 13–14, 19–20 at 8 pm. Nov. 8 and 15 at 3 pm.

Reach reporter Dennis Lynch at (718) 260–2508 or e-mail him at dlynch@cnglocal.com.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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