Friday, August 20, 2010

Turn On (MP3s), Tune In and Ride

From the N Y Times

Christian Hansen for The New York Times
A Joyride through Manhattan. Organized by Liz Sherman, the rides plug participants into the same soundtrack.
BIKE riders in New York have a secret, a communal understanding about the pleasures of navigating the urban landscape, flowing through traffic and observing the city in a way that pedestrians and drivers can’t. That secret is often expressed in a smile or a nod to another rider while passing on a bridge or stopped at a light, a conspiratorial acknowledgment of a shared moment with strangers in a city that can seem impervious to them.
Christian Hansen for The New York Times
Jan Peterson and his parrot, Raymond, took part in one of Liz Sherman’s Joyrides.
Now there is a new piece of interactive theater to take advantage of that feeling. Joyride is a group bike ride with a shared route and a common soundtrack. Riders equipped with MP3 players and headphones set off from the same point, pushing “play” simultaneously. They travel individually or in a pack, but each knows what the others are hearing. Gliding through the city on two wheels can already feel like being in a long tracking shot in a very personal movie, especially if you do it while listening to music. Joyride gives that experience an added dimension — an audience of participants.
“I like riding my bike and listening to music, and I thought it would be great to do that with other people,” said Liz Sherman, the theater director who came up with the project. “I thought it would be theatrical without needing to have a narrative or actors.” The sights and scenes of the city — what Ms. Sherman called “the ephemeral of the everyday” — provide the set, and sometimes the drama.
Joyrides have proved a natural match for Summer Streets, the city program that shuts Park Avenue and connecting streets to car traffic, from the Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park, mitigating the potential danger of riding while listening to music. (Legally, riders are supposed to wear only one earphone.) Ms. Sherman limits participation to 50 people; most spots for the ride on Saturday, the last day of Summer Streets, are spoken for, but there are cancellations, and she reserves 15 places for people who e-mail her with a good argument about why they should be let in. (Hint: mentioning the avant-garde French director Ariane Mnouchkine of Théâtre du Soleil, whose work inspired Ms. Sherman, doesn’t hurt.)