Performing Arts: Woolly Mammoth’s Neo-Futurists

by Editorial
Eliza Burmester, Mary Fons, Jay Torrence, Bilal Dardai, and Chloe Johnston. Photo by Colin Hovde.

Eliza Burmester, Mary Fons, Jay Torrence, Bilal Dardai, and Chloe Johnston. Photo by Colin Hovde.

Fusing the speed of the Italian Futurists, the love of the absurd of the Dadaists, the surrealism of, well, the Surrealists, and their own unique blend of social commentary, The Neo-Futurists are innovative, edgy, and interactive – a perfect fit for a theater that can be described by all of these adjectives.

The set-up is simple: As the audience enters the theater and takes a seat, they see a clothesline hung across the stage with pieces of paper clipped to the line, numbering 1-30. Each page corresponds to an original sketch that the cast members have written. By calling out which number they want to see performed, the audience chooses the order of the evening.

A large clock sits to the side of the stage, counting down 60 minutes when a buzzer sounds and the play is over whether all 30 sketches have been performed or not. With this consciousness of time, there is a slightly frantic quality to the evening, but it translates into a high-energy performance that has surprising moments of vulnerability and calm.

The cast through December 19 is comprised of Eliza Burmester, Bilal Dardai, Mary Fons, Chloe Johnston, and Jay Torrence. These players are brave and creative, willing to go all the way for a scene without holding anything back.

Each one had their moment of glory – Eliza with her ninja skills as a metaphor for relationships; Bilal talking about the effect of hyperlinks on his life; Jay lip-synching his sketch about a man who lip-synched his part in a play; Mary painting a couple in love in a green field complete with a sky full of potato stamp stars; Chloe talking about her relationship, or lack of relationship, with her Uncle Stanley.

Using lighting, sound effects, and a Spartan set to their advantage, the sketches were funny, serious, touching, political, and thought provoking. It is certain that many left the theater only to have an A-ha! moment around 2 am.

At the end of the show, a member of the audience rolls a dice and the number rolled is the number of sketches that the players will throw out and replace with new ones the very next night. Within a few days, the whole show could be new material.

The Neo-Futurists will be performing through January 2, with a new cast taking the place of this one after the 19th. And while they are here, they are offering three workshops that teach the concepts of Neo-Futurism. Information can be found on Woolly Mammoth’s website.

Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind
Created by Greg Allan
Written and directed by The Neo-Futurists
Lighting/Sound/Stage Management by Alan Chaikin, Ann Allan, and Jason Caballero

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