Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind

Last updated

Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind: 30 Plays in 60 Minutes (Too Much Light or TML) was the longest running show in Chicago [1] and the only open-run Off-Off-Broadway show in New York. [2] Starting in 1988, the show ran 50 weekends of the year until 2016. [3] As its subtitle states, the show consists of 30 short plays performed in 60-minutes. All were written, directed, and performed by a small ensemble called the Neo-Futurists. The plays tend to be a mixture of autobiography and performance art, as with much of the Neo-Futurists' work. The Neo-Futurists continued their 50 weekend a year performing streak with a new show titled The Infinite Wrench in 2017. [4]

Contents

History

Neo-Futurism as an aesthetic, as well as the format of TML, are both creations of founder Greg Allen. Although, due to the changing roster of plays in TML, Allen did not actually have a play in the show at all times during its run. In 2003, Allen ceased to be a member of the performing ensemble. [5] The Neo-Futurism aesthetic is a variant of the early 20th century Italian Futurism movement. [6] Greg Allen came up with the name from a young autistic child who would smash light bulbs and say, "Too much light makes the baby go blind". Later, when he was creating this show, the saying came back to his mind.

To date, three volumes of plays from the show have been published. With over 200 'plays.'

In November 2016, Allen revoked the Chicago Neo-Futurists' rights to perform TML in a surprise announcement. [7]

On February 28, 2017, [8] the Neo-Futurists in New York and San Francisco in addition to, and in solidarity with, the Chicago Neo-Futurists all launched an ongoing run of a new show titled The Infinite Wrench. [9]

Tone of the show

The show is the work of the Neo-Futurism movement, a variant of the Italian Futurism movement [1] and reflects their aesthetic of non-illusory theater, where, as they describe it, "all of our plays are 'set' on the stage in front of the audience. All of our 'characters' are ourselves... We do not aim to 'suspend the audience's disbelief' but to create a world where the stage is a continuation of daily life."

Structure

The ticket price for the show is random, with a fixed number (currently $9 for the Chicago show, $14 for the New York show, and $10 for the San Francisco show) being added to the roll of a six-sided die for each person. Upon payment, a member of the cast shouts, either in noise canceling headphones or with earbuds in, "What's your name?" at the audience member before giving him or her a name tag with a random and unrelated "name". Audience members are given a "menu" of play titles, and plays are selected by audience members shouting their number, with the first number heard being the play performed. Many of the plays contain elements of randomness and audience interaction; plays end when a member of the cast shouts "curtain!"

The list of plays is perpetually rotating. Every week between two and twelve plays (determined by two rolls of a die by someone in the audience) are removed from the "menu" and replaced with new plays, written in the course of the week.

As part of a lighthearted tradition, when a particular evening sells out, the cast orders pizza from a local restaurant, allowing the audience to shout out toppings. Only a single pizza is ordered, however, which the entire audience must share. [10]

New York troupe

A second Neo-Futurist company was founded in New York City in April 2004. The New York Neo-Futurists perform TML at the Kraine Theater in the East Village. This production has its own ensemble members, and thus contains different short plays from the Chicago show. In 2006, the New York Neo-Futurists were the recipients of the New York Innovative Theatre Awards Outstanding Performance Art Production. [2]

San Francisco troupe

In 2014, a third Neo-Futurist company was founded in San Francisco by producer Lucy Tafler and New York Neo-Futurist alum Adam Smith, performing in various venues in San Francisco's Theatre District. In 2016, they were voted San Francisco's Best Theater Company in the SF Bay Guardian's "Best of the Bay" Reader's Poll. [11] Like the New York Neo-Futurists, the troupe has their own ensemble members and plays. As of July 2015, they perform at SAFEhouse for the Performing Arts. [12]

Related Research Articles

Futurism Artistic and social movement

Futurism was an artistic and social movement that originated in Italy in the early 20th century. It emphasized speed, technology, youth, violence, and objects such as the car, the airplane, and the industrial city. Its key figures were the Italians Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carrà, Fortunato Depero, Gino Severini, Giacomo Balla, and Luigi Russolo. It glorified modernity and aimed to liberate Italy from the weight of its past. Cubism contributed to the formation of Italian Futurism's artistic style. Important Futurist works included Marinetti's Manifesto of Futurism, Boccioni's sculpture Unique Forms of Continuity in Space, Balla's painting Abstract Speed + Sound, and Russolo's The Art of Noises.

Mort Sahl American comedian and actor

Morton Lyon Sahl is an American comedian, actor, and social satirist, considered the first modern stand-up comedian since Will Rogers. Sahl pioneered a style of social satire which pokes fun at political and current event topics using improvised monologues and only a newspaper as a prop.

<i>Mighty Aphrodite</i> 1995 film by Woody Allen

Mighty Aphrodite is a 1995 American comedy film written, directed by, and co-starring Woody Allen, alongside Mira Sorvino, Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Rapaport, and F. Murray Abraham. The screenplay was inspired by the story of Pygmalion and is about Lenny Weinrib's (Allen) search for his genius adopted son's biological mother, ultimately finding that she is a dim-witted prostitute named Linda Ash (Sorvino).

The Neo-Futurists are an experimental theater troupe founded by Greg Allen in 1988, based on an aesthetics of honesty, speed and brevity. Neo-Futurists in theatre were inspired by the Italian Futurist movement from the early 20th century.

Lusia Strus is an American writer and stage and film actress with Neo-Futurists.

John Pierson, known also by the stage name Jughead and by the pseudonym Ian Pierce, is an American musician, writer, and owner of a theater company.

David Burliuk

David Davidovich Burliuk was a Russian and Ukrainian poet, artist, publicist and book illustrator associated with the Futurist, Neo-Primitivist and Russian Futurism movements. Burliuk is often described as "the father of Russian Futurism."

Neo-futurism Late-20th- to early-21st-century movement in the arts, design, and architecture

Neo-futurism is a late-20th to early-21st-century movement in the arts, design, and architecture. It has been seen as a departure from the attitude of post-modernism and represents an idealistic belief in a better future.

Spencer Kayden is an American actress, comedian and writer. Kayden is most notable for playing Little Sally in the Broadway musical Urinetown and for her membership in the recurring cast of comedians on sketch comedy series MADtv.

Luciano Chessa

Luciano Chessa is a musician, performance/visual/installation artist, and musicologist.

Ayun Halliday American writer

Ayun Halliday is an American writer and actor.

Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company

Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company is a non-profit theatre company located at 641 D Street NW in the Penn Quarter neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Founded in 1980, it produces new plays which it believes to be edgy, challenging, and thought-provoking. Performances are in a 265-seat courtyard-style theater.

Barrel of Monkeys (BOM) is an arts-education and theater ensemble based in Chicago that works in under-served Chicago Public Schools. Founded by Erica Halverson and Halena Kays in 1997, BoM consists of actors, musicians and teaching-artists that run in-school residency writing workshops, an after-school program and a weekly public performance, That's Weird, Grandma. The company works with elementary students in writing workshops, later adapting the students' original works to the stage.

Alex Weisman is a stage actor, who is best known for his performance as Posner in TimeLine Theatre Company's debut production of the play, The History Boys He is the younger brother of Robin Weisman.

<i>Banana Shpeel</i>

Banana Shpeel was a touring stage show created by Cirque du Soleil which premiered on November 19, 2009, at the Chicago Theater. The vaudeville-based show was directed by David Shiner, who also created Koozå. The show lasted a less than a year, only playing in Chicago, New York City, and Toronto. The show was cancelled in 2010, due to its poor reviews and many complications.

Chicago Dance Crash

Chicago Dance Crash is an American hip hop/contemporary dance company based in Chicago, Illinois. The company tours year round while sustaining a calendar year ‘season’ of local premiers and commercial work as well as a spring/fall educational outreach program. The company has received widespread critical acclaim while being considered one of the most notable American dance companies to emerge during the first decade of the 2000s.

Red Velvet is a 2012 play by Lolita Chakrabarti, dealing with the biography of the 19th century actor Ira Aldridge and his taking the role of Othello. It premiered at the Tricycle Theatre, London from 11 October to 24 November 2012, with Aldridge played by Adrian Lester. It has since been produced by several theatres in the United States.

Dylan Marron American actor and writer

Dylan Marron is an American actor, writer and activist known for his voice work as Carlos in the podcast Welcome to Night Vale and his video series Every Single Word, an art and data visualization project which compiles all the words spoken by people of color in major motion pictures.

Michael Cyril Creighton is an American actor and writer best known for his portrayal of Patrick in High Maintenance, Joe Crowley in Spotlight and his Writers Guild of America Award-winning web series Jack in a Box.

Margaret Fisher (artist) American performance and media artist

Margaret Fisher is an American performance and media artist best known for interdisciplinary works that pair gestural choreography to experimental visual theater characterized by a cartoon aesthetic with wide-ranging cultural references. She emerged amid a 1970s Bay Area experimental performance scene that included artists such as Lynn Hershman Leeson, George Coates, Bill Irwin and Winston Tong, and co-founded the intermedia production group MA FISH CO and the alternative theater Cat's Paw Palace in Berkeley. Fisher's work has been featured at the Venice Biennale, Dance Theatre Workshop, PS1 and The Kitchen in New York, SFMOMA, Image Forum (Tokyo), and the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal Mue-danse Festival; it has been reviewed in The New York Times, The Village Voice, Los Angeles Times, La Repubblica, Artweek, San Francisco Chronicle, and Dance Magazine. Critic Rita Felciano describes Fisher's approach as one of "artful intellect" and her multimedia pieces as "demanding puzzles, tightly structured and pervaded by a stillness and internal quiet." In addition to producing art, Fisher is an independent researcher and author of numerous books on twentieth-century performance, radio, film and poetry. She lives and works in Emeryville, California and is married to composer Robert Hughes.

References

  1. 1 2 Scotty Zacher (2010-03-30). "REVIEW: Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind (Neo-Futurists)". Chicago Theater Beat. Retrieved 2016-12-02.
  2. 1 2 Collins, Laura. "Theater". The New York Times . Retrieved 2016-12-02.
  3. Jones, Chris. "Longtime favorite 'Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind' to end over dispute". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 2016-12-02.
  4. Greene, Morgan. "New late-night show gets its name at Neo-Futurists". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 2017-02-28.
  5. "Greg Allen pulls 'Too Much Light' from Chicago's Neo-Futurists". Time Out Chicago. Retrieved 2016-12-02.
  6. Levitt, Aimee. "Too Much Light at 25: An oral history | Performing Arts Feature". Chicago Reader . Retrieved 2016-12-02.
  7. "'Too Much Light' creator yanks show from Chicago Neo-Futurists". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2016-12-02.
  8. Greene, Morgan. "New late-night show gets its name at Neo-Futurists". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved Apr 4, 2019.
  9. "theinfinitewrench". www.theinfinitewrench.org. Retrieved Apr 4, 2019.
  10. Levitt, Aimee. "Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind | Performing Arts Review". Chicago Reader . Retrieved 2016-12-02.
  11. B, Marke (2016-10-20). "BEST OF THE BAY 2016: ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT WINNERS". 48 hills. Retrieved 2016-12-03.
  12. "SF Neo-Futurists win race even if they don't finish". SFGate. Retrieved 2016-12-03.

Further reading

Allen, Greg. 100 Neo-Futurist Plays from Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind. Chicago: Chicago Plays, 2002.