Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Ethan Lipton's "No Place to Go"

Having secured a job early during on campus recruiting, I confidently completed my last semester of college. By the time I started my career at the NYC arm of a regional corporation, I was shocked to see that the department I interviewed with was completely different. The department head was gone; only a few people remained. A month or so later, I was called into a conference room and told that the department would be disbanded. I could leave NYC and move to headquarters or I could stay through year end and receive a retention bonus for my commitment. I stayed and was fortunate to get a new position at another company. However, days before I started, articles in NY papers foreshadowed a 15% reduction in workforce at my new company. What a way to start a career!! 

Move forward many years later and I've seen layoffs at almost every company I've worked. I've seen corporate restructurings due to mergers, acquisitions, power struggles, outsourcing and offshoring. I've seen victims of quartiling. I've seen an anxious executive assistant tap the shoulders of devastated employees and escort them across the floor to receive their packages only 21/2 months after one of the most devastating events on US soil. 

Several films in recent years have also depicted layoffs. We've seen the headcutter's perspective in Up in the Air. We've seen the dedicated Tom Hank get laid off due to lack of college degree but then reinvent himself in Larry Crowne. We've seen a trading floor sweep in Margin Call. And we've seem the arrogant Ben Affleck humbled in The Company Men

Today, as NY's unemployment rate resides at 8.3%, audiences can experience playwright/ songwriter Ethan Lipton's topical and understated fusion of monologue and song No Place to Go cabaret style at Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater. Lipton's part time job as an information refiner at a publication company is moving to a place that might as well be another planet. He is entitled to no severance. He says goodbye to his coworkers, rashly considers moving in with his parents and lets us in on his three tear plan to "cry then weep then bawl." All of this is done with wry humor, an eclectic mix of tunes and the support of a capable band boasting a sax, guitar and bass. Check out the music video for Ethan Lipton's Three-Tear Plan below: 

Now, you don’t have to be business minded to understand the rationale for downsizing (euphemistically rightsizing in consultant speak) even though in some instances there can be alternatives. However, the human side can hurt. In a TONY interview, Lipton's speaks about how he developed the idea for No Place to Go - an "ode to the working man." After getting a commission to develop a musical narrative piece for Joe's Pub, he learned that he was going to lose his job. He says: 
I was anxious and nervous and bummed out and angry about it. I had some things to say here.
Yes, he does, but I promise he won't bum you out in the process. No Place to Go runs through April 8th.

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