What will be the legacy of our dependence on plastics made from oil, natural gas or coal?
That question is at the heart of Robin Frohardt’s puppet film “Plastic Bag Store,” which will be screened for free in-person at Arlington’s Regent Theatre and online on Tuesday, May 10, at 7 p.m. via a program from Arts Arlington. The screening will be followed by a virtual Q&A on art, activism, and plastic with Frohardt and Michelle Lougee, whose public artwork “Persistence’ is on view along the Minuteman Bikeway in Arlington through June. (Reserve tickets here.)
In the film, Helen, a custodian at the Metropolitan Museum, “bristles when she finds that a plastic cup has been left by a museum-goer next to one of the august Greek antiquities. When Helen’s shift ends, she takes the cup with her, and thoughtfully gathers other litter as she journeys home. We follow Helen’s trash on an ironic and imaginative journey through time, and are challenged to consider how we (and our plastic) might be misinterpreted by future generations,” according to the production company, Pomegranate Arts.
The show, Arlington Arts notes, “revealed another aspect of throw-away plastic: it lasts forever.”
The 60-minute film is based on Frohardt’s 2020 “site-specific installation-cum-puppetry-show” of the same name in New York’s Times Square. “Designed to look like a real grocery store and set in a storefront, visitors are quickly confronted with the fact that all the products are actually made from recycled plastic bags and single use plastics, harvested from the garbage bins of New York City,” Pomegranate Arts writes.
But covid intervened in the March 2020 premiere. “The project had one magical dress rehearsal for an audience of friends, and then indefinitely the doors to the Store were locked,” Pomegranate Arts writes.
“Now the puppet show has been captured in a lyrical film, following a plastic bottle into a dystopian future ‘after the robot wars,’ where it is carefully uncovered and exhibited as a trace of a vanished civilization,” ArtsArlington writes.
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