The Neo-Futurists announce their 22nd Season

THE NEO-FUTURISTS ANNOUNCE THEIR 22nd SEASON OF ORIGINAL WORK

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Prime-Time Season

Prime-time shows run Thursdays through Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. at The Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland (at Foster) in Andersonville. Tickets are $15, $10 for students/seniors with ID, or pay-what-you-can during previews and on Thursdays. For tickets or information, visit www.neofuturists.org or call The Neo-Futurist Hotline at 773-275-5255.

 

Aug 19 – Sept 25 Daredevils’ Hamlet
  Created and curated by Ryan Walters  (bio after the fold)
      
  Channeling the 2005 hit Daredevils, the men in jumpsuits take competition to a new level in this meta-destruction of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Director Halena Kays returns to direct this thematic adaptation of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, by challenging feats of revenge, passion, and failure. The Daredevils prove there’s no better way to feel alive than by exploring a show that deals with copious amounts of death.
     
   
Feb 5 – March 12 Laika Dog in Space
  by Rob Neill, Eevin Hartsough, Jill Beckman and Carl Riehl
    
  East meets Midwest when the NY Neos bring their 2009 Ontological Incubator hit to the Chicago stage. Part science lesson, part Russian folklore and part introspective interpretation, Laika Dog In Space uses original music, dance and puppetry to help tell the story of Laika, the first mammal in space, and to discuss the impact of her life. Arrive early to take advantage of a living installation takes the audience through various stations where they listen, confess, create and experiment. And of course, the step back in time to the mid-80’s Soviet space program wouldn’t be complete without a helping of borscht!
     
      
April 30 – June 4 Performing Tonight! Liza Minnelli’s Daughter
   Conceived by Mary Fons (bio after the fold)
     
  What would you do if you believed you were destined for greatness but fate screwed it up? Life is hard, and Mary knows it all too well, but she is positive that her one-woman theatrical spectacle (featuring a cast of three) is a one-way ticket to the extraordinary life that she was supposed to lead – life as the daughter of Broadway and big screen legend, Liza Minnelli. In Performing Tonight! Liza Minnelli’s Daughter, Mary Fons is Mary Minnelli, a woman with a shaky past, but a bright future. Enthusiasm, delusion, ambition and a little bit of obsession blur the lines of fact and fiction in the Neo-Futurist prime time season closer.
     
     
ONGOING SHOW Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind
  The Neo-Futurists’ signature show, performed since 1988, is the longest-running production in Chicago history. Too Much Light… is an ever-changing attempt to perform 30 plays in 60 minutes. Each week the ensemble adds between two and twelve new plays to the menu. Every performance creates an unreproducible, living-newspaper collage of the comic and tragic, the political and personal, the visceral and experimental.
   
  TMLMTBGB runs Fridays and Saturdays at 11:30pm, Sundays at 7pm, Tickets $9 plus the roll of a six-sided die (so $10-$15)

tmlbgb-ensemble Ensemble for Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind

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REVIEW: Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind (Neo-Futurists)

21-Year old show is still as fresh as ever

 

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Neo-Futurists present
 
Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind
 
at The Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland (map)
Open Run (more info)

reviewed by Keith Ecker 

Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind is more than just a series of 30 plays in 60 minutes. It’s also more than Chicago’s longest running production, celebrating its 21st anniversary in late 2009. Too Much Light is a complete and utter oddity.

new jump What other show can consistently sell out every performance to an audience that would properly be characterized as non-theatergoing? At the performance I saw, there were a motley assortment of college students, teenagers and sweatpants-clad parents. It looked a lot more like the type of crowd you’d see lining up for the most recent Hollywood blockbuster than a trip down a surrealist, dada rabbit hole.

But the throngs of people do come, and what they witness is one of the most out there and experimental shows in the city. And what’s even more remarkable is that they thoroughly enjoy it.

Maybe it has to do with the fact that the show is much more than a show. It is an ideology as well. Neo-Futurism is a contemporary style modeled after the Italian Futurists. These Futurists worked in all sorts of media from painting to music to theatre. In the same vein as Dadaism, Futurism sought to be the anti-art, casting off the shackles of the past to welcome a new aesthetic that looked toward the future, taking influences from technology and industry.

Although Neo-Futurism doesn’t seem to take itself as seriously as some of its Italian forbearers, it still retains its absurdist bent and deeply personal expression. In fact, a tenant of Too Much Light is that everything the audience witnesses is real. Every actor plays himself and only himself and all scenes are set in the very theater on the very stage where the actors are performing.

The show is chockfull of gimmicks, many of which are interactive, which gives it its high energy and spontaneity. To enter the theater, each audience member must roll a die. Add nine to the die roll, and that’s what you pay. As you enter, you’re asked your name by a performer who completely ignores your answer and scribbles a random word on a nametag, which you must wear throughout the duration of the show. (My name was “inning.”)

A clothesline hangs from the ceiling above the stage. Hanging from the line are 30 sheets of paper, each labeled with a number. Audience members are handed a “menu” of plays, each written by and to be performed by the cast. The audience is instructed to shout out a number at the end of a scene. Whatever number is heard first is the next play that is performed. A timer on the wall ticks away for an hour. The goal is to complete all 30 pieces before the alarm sounds.

Each week some old sketches are slotted out and new plays are written. After about a month, all old scenes have cycled out of the menu and a completely new show is staged.

 

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There is a lot of expectation for Too Much Light to be a comedy. And at times it does deliver the funny. For example, one play titled “Curtains: The NeoFuturist Mascot” featured a competition to pick a mascot for the show. A boy from the audience was chosen and so the performers dressed him up with a cape, a fuzzy tail and a cardboard box decorated like a cow’s head.

Yet, this is not iO or Second City. The aim of the Neo-Futurists isn’t to showcase a series of knee-slapping sketches. It’s pure artistic expression, a sort of mental and emotional purging for the performers that, quite often, resonates in some way with the audience. Whether this resonance is characterized by laughter or a somber silence depends on the scene. But there are typically plenty of both in a Too Much Light….. show.

And maybe that’s the appeal. Where else in Chicago can you see a crazy whirlwind of a show that makes you laugh, think, reflect and, at times, get all misty eyed? It’s a rollercoaster experience, and hopefully this ride will keep rumbling for years to come.

 
Rating: ★★★★
     

Logistics
All shows will be performed at The Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland @ Foster. Click here for directions and a map. Tickets are $9 + the roll of a single six-sided die ($10 – $15, depending on your luck!)

Showtimes
Friday nights at 11:30pm (doors open at 11:00), Saturday nights at 11:30pm (doors open at 11:00), Sunday nights at 7:00pm (doors open at 6:30), 50 weeks a year! (We take off the very last two weekends of December each year.)
No reservations are accepted.  Heard about the big line that forms to get into TML, click here for Tips and FAQs on how to get into the show. Wanna volunteer for TML (and see the show for free)? Click here.

               

Spend New Years Eve with Neo-Futurists

new-years-toastToo Much Light” New Year’s Eve

On Thursday, December 31, doors open at The Neo-Futurarium at 9:30 p.m. for non-alcoholic refreshments and hors d’oeuvres provided by Whole Foods Market Sauganash. A performance of Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind, created by Greg Allen, begins promptly at 11:00 p.m. (no admittance after 11:00 p.m.) The performance ends at 12 midnight with a New Year’s toast and The Neo-Futurists’ signature pizza. Admission is $40. Advance tickets are required and available online at www.neofuturists.org. Although “Too Much Light” New Year’s Eve is an all-ages show, it is not appropriate for children.

  • Thursday, December 31, 2009
  • Doors open at 9:30 p.m. for non-alcoholic refreshments and hors d’oeuvres provided by Whole Foods Market Sauganash
  • All-ages performance of Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind begins at 11:00 p.m. sharp — no admittance after 11:00 p.m.
  • New Years’ Toast and pizza at midnight

ADVANCE TICKETS REQUIRED ($40): www.neofuturists.org

For more information, call 773-275-5255

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Review: Neo-Futurists’ “Fear”

Just in time for Halloween

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Neo-Futurists present:

Fear

Conceived and curated by Noelle Krimm
running through October 31st  (buy tickets)

Reviewed by Paige Listerud

Just in time for Halloween, with Fear, Noelle Krimm and cast at the Neo-Futurarium tout themselves as “the thinking man’s haunted house.” A walking-tour based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe, Fear certainly will give you something to think about—but will also carry your experience far beyond any cerebral appreciation.

Fear-2 Fear is there to throw the audience off balance, to make them apprehensive about what is coming next, to subvert the mundane internal presumptions of control and reasonable expectation that help to make life manageable and endurable. The production doesn’t need to splatter gore or make you blindly stick your hand into a bowl of spaghetti—the realized uneasiness of life’s exigencies is enough to terrify.

Thus Krimm and company rely, not just on Poe’s obsessions with madness, terror, and degeneration, but also on a modern American lexicon of horror, wherein box-cutters and Dixie cups filled with—what? Kool-Aid?–take on sinister meaning just by being silently presented. Old tech and new are thrown together to suggest the disarray of history and the precariousness of preservation.

The dances and puppet shows are childlike, but are not there to show us happy fables. Fear highlights our most basic fears: of personal safety, of injury, of strangers and strangeness, of both physical and mental illness. It is a romp through the fears we suppress just to make it through life, even if we must all submit in the end.

  While the angels, all pallid and wan,
Uprising, unveiling, affirm
That the play is the tragedy, “Man”
And its hero, the Conqueror Worm.
—–The Conqueror Worm
 

Most of all it is fun–so catch Fear if you dare. The tour involves several sets of stairs, so accessibility is a concern. With enough interest, the tour may extend beyond Halloween.

Enjoy.

 

Rating:  «««½

 

Extra contributors: Rachel Claff, Matt Hawkins, Seth Bockley, Chloe Johnston, Mindy Myers, Ren Velarde, Bernie McGovern and Dan Kerr-Hobert

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