Tag Archives: New Play Development

Playwright Yeauxlanda Kay Discusses Awesome Tiny Plays

How long have you been doing “Too Much Light”?
I became a Neo Futurist in 2005 and our weekly show ,”Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind” has a rotating cast so I’ve been in and out of the show for seven years.

How does “Too Much Light” work?

The show is our attempt to perform 30 plays in 60 minutes. All of the plays are original and we’re entirely self contained, everything you see and hear is written, created and performed by us.  A clothesline hangs across the stage with numbers 1 through 30 pinned to it. Each number corresponds to the title of a play. Our program is the menu of plays offered that evening with the titles and numbers printed on it.  No two shows are ever alike since the run of the show changes each night and each weekend plays are cut from the menu and new ones will replace them the following weekend.

How is the audience involved?
  The audience’s theater experience with us starts as soon as they reach the theater, (The Kraine 85 E.4th Street btwn Bowery & 2nd) by standing on line, having to roll dice to determine the price of their admission and being name tagged.
The audience also plays a major part in our show. They decide the run of the show by calling out the number of the play that they wish to see. Some plays require audience participation. At the end of the show an audience member is randomly selected to roll a die onstage each night to determine how many plays will be cut from the menu and how many new plays will be added.
Of course the more audience members we have the merrier because when we sell out we order pizza for the audience.

How did you get involved?
Back in 1999 my then roommate, Morris Stegosaurus, gave me the book, “100 Neo Futurist Plays from Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind” published by the Chicago company. I read it in one sitting and when I closed the book I said out loud that I wanted to be a Neo Futurist. I fell in love with the aesthetic immediately; not playing characters, displaying verisimilitude  in it’s highest form, everything that is seen is real or honest and the show is made up political commentary, living newspaper, personal confession and vulnerability.And theatre, music, dance, visual art and performance art can be used to create a play.
But I digress, I can’t help myself I love it. In 2004 I was a part of a two week audition workshop and I was trained by Greg Allen, the founder of Neo Futurism and I had my first performance in 2005.

How many Neo Futurist plays have you written?
My guess would be probably 100 and maybe about half  of those have been performed. Right now I have 6 plays in the current menu.

What is the writing process like?
There is no simple answer for this, you have to take a series of workshops to learn our process. But I can say that we work collaboratively to decide how the menu should look; do we have enough comedy, drama, activity, silence, movement, anti-plays, political, personal music, deconstruction do we change the space enough? etc, etc
What ever is missing we all write separately then we propose our plays together and we select what plays will be used.

How does it differ from your other writing?
In Neo futurism I have to work with what ever I have at my disposal at the time. If I write a play for myself it has to deal with whatever I’m going through at the time. And if I write for my fellow Neos I must write in their voices. I can’t give them lines that they would never say in real life and I can direct their emotions onstage, that has to be organic. Writing this way really sharpens your observation skills because you really have to know your cast mates but, if you don’t know how they would react to a certain stimulus you are free to ask them.
What is the most ridiculous thing that’s happened on stage?
In 2005 I broke my leg onstage during a show while doing a play that I wrote. I didn’t realize that I had broken it so I finished the show with a limp that grew progressively worse as the night went on. I even danced on it.

What have you learned through writing for Too Much Light?
I was already I fast writer but now being a Neo I’m even faster with my turnaround. Saturday we cut plays the following Tuesday we must come with completed plays. The more plays that were cut, the more plays that have to be brought. Also, my eye is becoming more astute at “finding” plays. For instance, I was on the subway reading The Economist magazine and some dancers came on and their music underscored my reading. Before I knew it I had a play about astronomical property values around the world set to the music of Kid The Whiz, it’s titled ELITIST TURF WARS.
Do you always perform in your own pieces?
Not always because if the play is completely tailored to you it will be cut when you leave the show, BUT if you write some plays where anyone can go in they have a better chance of staying in the menu after you leave. Right now the current record time for a play staying in is ten weeks. I think one of mine has stayed in for six.
Does your choice of subject material differ?
Yes because EVERYTHING can be used; current events, politics, social issues, art, theatre, film, tv, music, something utterly unbelievable and surreal happening to you at work that makes for a great story that can be told in 60 to 90 seconds.

What’s next?
Next week I work on a film. That’s all I’m allowed to say at this time. It’s secretive like Mi6.

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Baby’s On Fire (Putting the Play Back in Play Development) by Micheline Auger

Baby’s on fire, better throw her in the water…” – Brian Eno

There are so many babies on fire right now and they don’t need no water. I was just talking to Diana Oh about her new Filling the Well Artist Retreat. She, like many artists, is on fire, yet the fire flows like water. Actually, “shooting energy from your fingertips” was the language she used. And that’s the language I like. Let the rant begin.

There’s a certain type of language that makes my artistic boner go limp and creative juices go dry. Take whatever sexually provocative, gender-specific language you like because IT IS ABOUT LANGUAGE. You want me to get juicy with my play, don’t hand me a dry stale piece of toast. Hand me a big fucking cheeseburger with bacon and Gorgonzola and lick your fingers while you’re at it.  Don’t ask me what my goal is. Don’t ask me about my intention (which is another pseudo-groovy way of saying goal). I didn’t go to business school to write a play so keep your business language out of my art.

Not to say that I don’t have goals and  intentions (some of them good), but I don’t sit down to write a play because I have a goal or intention, per se. I sit down because I have “energy shooting from my fingertips”, or from my brain, ass, stomach, heart or cunt – and yeah, sometimes I wish heart was first on that list but sometimes it’s ass or cunt, and it’s funny that the minute I wrote cunt my cursor stopped working for a bit and made me think I should have written vagina instead, or maybe even pussy, but I’m sticking with cunt because it is a fun word. Cunt. Fun. Goal. Not.

If you are interested in the development of my play, you need to use your groovy imagination and come up with some better language. Or a better entry point. Lets talk about the sounds of the play or the imagery -  dobermans biting at a metal fence, a tetherball chain whipping itself in a desolate playground, a car starting.  Sounds and images are great entry points to a capital J Juicy conversation about the play which invites the play into the room so it can be part of the conversation. It wants to be part of the conversation. Like it really, really wants to.

When you say goal, the play thinks it’s a spreadsheet and is full of self-loathing and wants to file itself somewhere. When you ask me to explain my play in two sentences, it confuses itself with a suicidal haiku and wants to commit Hari Cari. When you ask me what my intention is,  it thinks you want to rope it into an unhappy marriage where there’s no sex and only dishes.  Don’t do that to my play.

My play want to play with you but are you playful too? I think you are. Otherwise we wouldn’t be here. Let’s stand on our heads and talk about my play. Tell me a secret joy and I’ll tell you about my play. Be my play’s lover. Love it with the love you have for babies. And then be on fire with it. Don’t throw it in the water.

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