TACOMA, Wash. – In just 60 minutes, 30 piquantly honest plays will be performed on stage at University of Puget Sound, as students adopt the experimental Neo-Futurist format for two public performances in November.
What’s Neo-Futurism? It’s all about actors who appear as themselves on stage, performing short plays written to reflect their own personal experience. It’s also about a production that evolves regularly, so each night is a living, newspaper-like collage of the comic and tragic, the political and personal.
Catch the performance of 30 Neo-Futurist Plays From Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind at the traditional Neo-Futurist hour of 10:30 p.m., on Friday, Nov. 16 or Saturday, Nov. 17, in Norton Clapp Theatre, Jones Hall on campus. Tickets are cheap! Each audience member’s ticket price will be determined by a roll of the dice at the door.
Puget Sound is fortunate to have Chicago-based Neo-Futurism founder Greg Allen (pictured right) and Neo-Futurist historian Erica Milkovich on campus as visiting artists this fall. They are joining theatre arts visiting Assistant Professor Marilyn Bennett (pictured below) in shaping the production.
Allen created the original stage play Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind, which has been running continuously in Chicago since 1988 and in New York City since 2005. Milkovich participated in the Chicago production for four years, studying every facet of the genre for her 2010 dissertation.
Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind, which provides the framework for the Puget Sound production, has been praised for breaking down the wall between the audience and the performers. Backstage magazine described it as “Like the glory days of Saturday Night Live, only funnier and slightly surreal.”
Neo-Futurist thinking demands that everything that happens on stage is not an illusion. Nothing is pretended, as each actor plays him or herself; the time is the present; all lines spoken are a relatable truth; and the emotional reactions of the actors are honest and in the moment. The two-minute plays tend to be wildly eclectic, from the satirical to the poetic, as each play is written as an artistic expression of the company member’s very individual life.
Each of the 30 short plays in the Puget Sound production has been selected by the college’s theater company from among the 600-plus published Neo-Futurist plays. (The Neo-Futurists have written more than 8,000 plays.) The 14 student actors will still play themselves, having adapted the 30 pieces to reflect their own sensibility and context. A “Neo-feature” of the two nights is that the audience will determine the order of the plays by selecting titles from a menu, so the cast members will have no idea what is coming up next. And there are consequences if they don’t complete all 30 plays in 60 minutes.
The production is sponsored by the Department of Theatre Arts and the Matthew Norton Clapp Visiting Artists Endowment.
Greg Allen is the founding director of The Neo-Futurists and creator of Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind. He has written and directed more than 50 other professional productions and is well-known for K., his award-winning adaptation of Kafka's The Trial; and his nine-act, seven-hour production of Eugene O’Neill’s Strange Interlude. Allen teaches theater and performance at a number of prestigious universities, including The University of Chicago, The Theatre School at Depaul University, the National Theater Institute at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center in Connecticut, and in residencies all over North America.
Erica Milkovich is an independent scholar based in Eugene, Ore. She received her doctorate in theater arts from the University of Oregon in 2010, after completing her dissertation, A History of Neo-Futurism. In the 1990s she worked as a “tech gal” for The Neo-Futurists, which inspired her interest in Chicago theater and in new and devised plays. Milkovich recently co-edited a book called Beyond Steppenwolf: Chicago’s Established Alternative Theaters, which will be published in 2013. She also has published in Theatre Journal and the Baylor Journal of Theatre and Performance.
FOR TICKETS: Tickets are cheap! The price will be determined by a roll of the dice at the door.
Press photos of Greg Allen and Marilyn Bennett can be downloaded from: www.pugetsound.edu/pressphotos
Photos on page: Above right: Greg Allen as Hamm in Samuel Beckett's Endgame; above left: Marilyn Bennett
Tweet this: 30 plays in 60 mins. With a roll of the dice, Neo-Futurism arrives @univpugetsound. Fri. Nov. 16; Sat. Nov. 17. http://bit.ly/Ouy9V0
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