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