If a Broadway performance is an extravagant present tied with a perfect bow, Say Something Bunny! is a minimalist time capsule that erupts all over its audience. The immersive one-woman performance by Alison S. M. Kobayashi uses text, vintage photographs, music, caricature, live video, and census reports to bring the nearly incomprehensible tale of a Long Island Jewish family in the 1950s to two and a half hours of dazzling life. With an audience capacity limited to 24 — each of whom has a role to play — the multimedia performance piece has been running in Chelsea since May and was extended through at least January of next year. For good reason.
Kobayashi, a Brooklyn-based video, performance, and installation artist hailing from Ontario, has long been a collector of ephemera. So when a friend came across an old wire recorder at an estate sale in 2007, it eventually found its way to her. While Kobayashi has listened to many a found recording, she told Per La Mente that, from the start, this one felt different. The voices she heard had incredible New York accents, like something out of an old film, and they teased and chatted with each other in a way both timelessly familial and vividly particular to a distinct historical moment. “Immediately, I was like, this is something,” Kobayashi said. “I didn’t know what form it would [take] or what it would become, but I was just like, this is something really special.”