"If you start to study how the brain works, could you stop violence in the world? Violence not just as in nuclear war, but the kind of violence one finds in a household, or the violence that one finds on the street. If you start to understand what's going on inside of you, would there be grace?"
These were the questions SITI Company founder Anne Bogart raised in a 2008 interview in Arizona prior to the premiere of Who Do You Think You Are, a meditation on neuroplasticity—the brain's innate, lifelong adaptability to change—placed within an adaptation of Rainer Werner Fassbinder's 1969 film Katzelmacher. (For a tantalizing excerpt from that production, see bit.ly/SITIwho.)
Following a national tour of the work in 2009, Bogart and company reportedly have been adding to the piece during a two-week residency co-hosted by PlayMakers Rep and UNC's Process Series. According to reports, disjunctive scenes depicting the dubious social life of malingerers in its prior version shifted mid-show into an "interesting ... explicit theater essay" that questioned the rigidity of the personality. Another critic concluded that "change begins to seem less remarkable than the fact that we possess any sense of self at all."
During its time here, the company has had further consultations with former UNC psychiatrist R. Grant Steen, whose book The Evolving Brain inspired the original work. We'll get a glimpse of its new incarnation as a work in progress at this 7:30 p.m. performance. Tickets are free, but reservations are required; e-mail PRCresidencies@gmail.com. —Byron Woods