Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind, the Chicago cult hit, has also established itself as a downtown presence in New York as well, heading for its second anniversary at Nada, the group's Off-Off-Broadway venue on Ludlow Street.
Founded by Greg Allen in Chicago 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." At each performance, the troupe performs 30 plays in 60 minutes. Not surprisingly, plays can range from less than 10 seconds to a maximum length of about five minutes.
Some playlets are serious, some are silly. Example: Fall opens with all the actors hanging by their hands from the ceiling. After a moment or two, one lets go and drops to the floor. After another moment, another actor drops. Think about it.
An on-stage timer keeps everyone apprised of the time left in the evening. When 60 minutes are up, the show is over. Period.
Other fun, audience-friendly elements of the show include the entrance and admission: audience members pay $4 and then 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.
At the end of each show, another roll of the dice determines how many of the playlets must be dropped (and new one’s written), in time for the following week’s show.
The show had its NY debut at the Public Theatre in 1993, and moved to Here in June 1995 before settling into its current home at Nada.
For information on Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind call their New York hotline at (212) 330-8087 or their Chicago hotline at (773) 275-5255.
Meanwhile, the show celebrated its eighth anniversary at Chicago's NeoFuturarium on North Ashland with a "Best Of" collection, Dec. 6, 1996.
Too Much Light plays in New York Fridays-Saturdays at 11:30 PM, Sundays at 7 PM. A book of 100 Neo-Futurist plays from Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind is available from Chicago Plays, Inc.
-- By David Lefkowitz