On Valentine's Day weekend, Chicago's Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind, which crams 30 very-short plays into 60 delirious minutes, made sure all 30 plays were about love, romance and relationships. In a similar vein, and for the seventh consecutive year, the troupe will offer its "Lesbian and Gay Pride Edition" of Too Much Light June 26-28, with all the offerings dealing with "all-queer" topics. As gay cast-member Geryll Robinson puts it, "It's a collection of our favorite queer-themed Neo-Futurist plays, with an extra emphasis on gender bending, camp and celebrating sexuality."
Pride weekend runs June 26-28, with June 27 reserved for a special show to benefit the Gerber/Hart Library of gay and lesbian literary archives. The company will bring along a giant box, so audience members can donate books to the Library.
Past Pride Show recipients have included GLAAD, The Pink Angels, and the Illinois Federation for Human Rights.
Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind, the Chicago cult hit that also established itself as a downtown presence in New York, works out of its home, the Neo-Futurarium on North Ashland. Feb. 14 marked the company's sixth year at the venue, after moving from the Live Bait space in 1992.
Founded by Greg Allen in December 1988, the Neo-Futurist troupe mixes and matches forms ranging from the avant-garde, sketch comedy, poetry, one-act plays, monologues and agit-prop. The Neo-Futurists' show, Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind, could almost be considered a play slam. Not surprisingly, plays can range from less than ten seconds to a maximum length of about five minutes. An on-stage timer keeps everyone apprised of the time left in the evening. Other fun, audience-friendly elements of the show include the entrance and admission: audience members pay $4 and roll a one-sided die to determine the ticket price. In other words, a ticket is no less than $5 but no more than $10.
Plays are not done in a particular order. Papers with the numbers 1-30 are strung along a clothesline above the actors' heads. As soon as one play ends, the menu-holding audience members shout out numbers of the play they want to see next. The first number grabbed off the line becomes the next play.
A book of 100 Neo-Futurist plays from Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind is available from Chicago Plays, Inc. On Nov. 4, 1997, Chicago's Whitehouse Records released the troupe's first compact disk, featuring -- what else? -- 30 plays in 60 minutes. (Actually there are 33 cuts on the CD, including an intro, outro and a pizza break, based on the troupe's tradition of ordering pizza for the audience when the show sells out.)
For information on Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind call their Chicago hotline at (773) 275-5255.
-- By David Lefkowitz