You've rolled the dice, seen the show, read the book, bought the t-shirts -- now you can experience Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind in your own home!
Too Much Light... the Chicago cult hit that has also established itself as a downtown presence in New York, has brought its Neo-Futurist magic to the world of audio. On Nov. 4, 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.) To celebrate the release, the cast signed autographed and performed at a Tower Records appearance, Nov. 5.
As ever, TMLMTBGB runs Fridays and Saturdays at 11:30 PM, Sundays at 7 PM at the troupe's own Neo-Futurarium. A branch of the group will also return to New York this winter, though probably not at HERE or Nada, their previous downtown homes.
To celebrate the troupe's 9th anniversary, Too Much Light will do two weeks of "Best Of 1997" plays, Dec. 5-7 and Dec. 12-14, before going on holiday until Jan. 2, 1998.
* Neo-Futurism was founded in 1988 by director/playwright Greg Allen. He was "tired of doing theatre for just my friends" and created the wildly successful Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, a collection of 30 plays in an hour where the audience has the opportunity to choose the order in which the plays are done.
Allen, a teacher of theatre history at Columbia College, bases his performance theories on the Futurist Manifestos of F.T. Marinetti. "Futurism," an artistic movement based on speed, movement and violence, was founded in 1910 by Marinetti.
Allen told Playbill On-Line, "I wanted to explore the performance theories of Futurism, Dada, and Environmental Theatre. What I saw in the Futurist theories was speed and incredible energy, even today his theories are considered outrageous."
Allen's play K. received a staging at the first NY International Fringe Festival this summer and also at Chicago's Theatre On The Lake. That work experimented with Bertolt Brecht's theories of alienation, where an actor playing a role constantly acknowledges that they are "putting on" a character for the play.
Another Neo-Futurist show, running Thursdays-Saturdays at 8 PM through Nov. 27, is Jobey And Katherine, a "dark, allegorical comedy set in a cannery town," where citizens worship God by being sybarites. Greg Kotis, a Neo-Futurist since 1991, wrote the piece which stars his wife, Ayun Halliday (a founding troupe member), Bill Coelius and Sven "The Lucky Swede" Holmberg as an unlucky mailman. The show played in New York in May.
Kotis told Playbill On-Line Jobey, about a man coming back to reclaim his love, has "as traditional structure as I could create -- three characters, one set. We're billing it as a kind of a comedy, but a lot of it is very dark, and the text deconstructs itself as it happens."
Deconstruction is, of course, par for the course in Too Much Light. There the Neo-Futurist troupe mixes and matches forms ranging from the avant-garde, sketch comedy, poetry, one-act plays, monologues and agit prop. 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 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.
The troupe has penned more than 500 plays in the past nine years. Some of the titles on the new CD include Loud Song, Grasping The Situation, Dialectical Materialism Of A Schnook, The Real Name Of This Play Has Never Been Spoken And Perhaps Can Never Be Said and Droplet.
A book of 100 Neo-Futurist plays from Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind is available from Chicago Plays, Inc.
For information on Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind and other Neo-Futurist shows, call their Chicago hotline at (773) 275-5255.