In a multimedia production, Joseph Gordon-Levitt ran to the balcony and back again to promote his website, hitRECord.
“hitRECord on the Road with Joseph Gordon-Levitt,” hosted by Duke University Union, incorporated virtual and physical audience participation as well as content from hitRECord website—a free online platform for user-generated music, stories, drawings and artistic collaboration—through a series of short films. Gordon-Levitt announced, albeit vaguely, that hitRECord will be taking the form of a television show and invited numerous students on stage to discuss “loops,” roads and Occupy Wall Street. Throughout Thursday’s show, Gordon-Levitt showcased the merit of organic, homemade art and cited his frustrations as a burgeoning actor as inspiration for the project.
“That round red record button on video cameras became a symbol, and pushing the button [became] a metaphor for my own creativity,” he said at the beginning of the show. “I can’t leave it up to people to allow me to be creative.”
Throughout the show, the “Looper” and “(500) Days of Summer” actor carried a video camera and recorded discussions with audience members based on tweets submitted at his request, as well as impromptu performances fueled by content previously submitted to the site. The theme of roads was first addressed minutes into the evening, when Gordon-Levitt put out a request for tweets on the topic and selected freshman Thu Nguyen, a member of The Chronicle’s design staff, to venture from the balcony to the stage.
“I literally traveled half the world to be here for the education, the experience and this show,” Nguyen, a native of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, said amid loud cheers from the audience.
Nguyen’s unplanned appearance was one of many: Dozens of students joined the actor to dance in front of a green screen, act out a six-word short story—“Tell no one about this cape”—and discuss the morality of working on Wall Street.
Between instances of audience participation, Gordon-Levitt showed short films created from content submitted to his site. Gordon-Levitt screened two interpretations of the same animation, “Strawberry Bootlaces,” in which he starred. One was about a family meal being spoiled by the consumption of too much candy beforehand, and the other, more edgy version told the story of someone who had just smoked marijuana and struggled through the family meal before returning to the delightful discovery of one lone strawberry bootlace.
DUU President Nathan Nye said Gordon-Levitt’s performance was booked in last April.
“[The Speakers and Stage committee was] looking for someone who was a household name and who had star quality but also had a lot of really interesting things to say about the role he was doing—he’s a lot more than just an actor, he’s also an artist,” Nye said.
Although most of the evening was purely a platform for artistic demonstrations and plugs for his website, Gordon-Levitt also ventured into politically-charged territory. Noting that Thursday marked the one-year anniversary of the eviction of Occupy Wall Street protestors from Zucotti Park in New York City, Gordon-Levitt made his disdain for Wall Street clear and expressed his solidarity with the movement’s ideals.
The event ended on the theme of loops, as Gordon-Levitt made an open invitation—eagerly accepted by about a third of the audience—for attendees to come sing a cyclical song on stage.
Ava Rohloff, a freshman at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, called some of the short films “inspiring,” noting that she knew little about hitRECord before seeing the show.
Sophomore Cameron Mazza came into the performance not knowing what to expect, but said he thoroughly enjoyed the event.
“I was expecting it to kind of be cliché, indie, very hipster... but in reality, I thought it really did pertain to every type of person,” Mazza said. “The way everyone could participate in it was really, really enjoyable... I felt like I could relate to Joseph Gordon-Levitt.”