Theater archives

Red Cloud Rising: The Theater of Text Messages


You receive an email for a “recruitment session,” someone hoping to discover if you’re “a good fit for the Bydder family!” You agree to attend a meeting in a glitzy Wall Street conference room. This is all part of Red Cloud Rising, a presentation of the Brick Theater’s Game Play Festival, with roots in videogaming, not theater; it’s less scripted than programmed.

At the meeting, an exec named Charlotte takes your cell number, gives you a name badge, then sends you and a small group of associates outside on a scavenger hunt for information about a company called Bydder Financial. Clues about your next moves arrive via text message.

Predictably, Bydder’s involved in an evil profiteering scam—filching natural resources in Latin America. Disgruntled former Bydder employees accost you in the street; they have joined a shadowy anti-corporate group. You hardly notice Red Cloud’s flimsy plot except that it gives you an excuse to visit landmarks New Yorkers usually neglect, like Trinity Church. The format and the dynamic of your “team” prove more intriguing than the tossed-off performances. You get a drink ticket at Fraunces Tavern. Later, Bydder rejects you by e-mail. Like the show, the ding letter is inconsequential but oddly pleasant.