(Illustrations courtesy the Neo-Futurists)
A theater major’s revenge
A performance of Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind by the Neo-Futurists comes to Washington Park.
In “Blind Date: You Don’t Have to Do It ’Cause We’re Doing It for You!” two performers (including Malic White, AB’12) take two audience members’ wallets and go on a “blind date,” exchanging only the information they can gather from looking through each person’s wallet. In “Lollapa-Lincoln,” a sketch paying homage to both Lollapalooza and Abraham Lincoln, performer Jay Torrence steps out from behind the curtain with a beard and a top hat. He sits on a stool and begins to sing “Stay (I Missed You)” by Lisa Loeb (“You say, I only hear what I want to …”) as Abraham Lincoln. Someone peeks a pistol out from behind the curtain and shoots him in the head John Wilkes Booth–style. These scenes change with every performance. The Neo-Futurists, who write, direct, and perform Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, play the sketches according to how they are feeling on a particular day, in a particular moment, with a particular audience. Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, which is performed 50 weeks per year, is a performance of 30 plays in 60 minutes. The show is in its 25th year, and plays are changed out while new plays are written constantly; there have been 8,876 plays to date. Instead of making the trek to Andersonville and seeing one of their late-night performances, I was lucky enough to catch the troupe in the Washington Park Refectory, a few blocks away from my apartment. The show came to Washington Park as a part of the Chicago Park District’s Theater on the Lake’s Chicago Summer Theater Festival, which brings well-known theater companies to parks in different neighborhoods. When we walked into the show, we received a “menu” listing the names of all the plays. At the beginning of the show, the performers set the clock, and the audience chose the order of the plays’ performances. At the end of each play, a performer would yell “Curtain!” and audience members would shout out the number of the play that they wanted to see next. The performers would pick the first play they heard from the crowd. When the clock chimed, the performers stopped midsentence, and the show was over. Luckily, we were able to make it through all the plays but one. The plays ranged from funny (performers imitating the robotic Roomba vacuum cleaner) to poignant (a performer paying homage to her aunt, a Holocaust survivor). According to Google Maps, it takes an hour and 18 minutes to ride the CTA from the Regenstein Library to the Neo-Futurists’ theater. With titles like “grilled cheese and atrophy,” “Just Give Me a Jamaican Accent and a Calculator,” and an immersive experience, I’ll definitely consider escaping the library for a late night adventure with the Neo-Futurists. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1830","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"637","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"460"}}]]