Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2019-03-13
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

The Neo-Futurists mark three decades
by Kerry Reid
2018-11-28

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Thirty years ago, the Neo-Futurists opened a late-night show that became first a cult favorite, and then an institution. And though Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind changed its name two years ago after a dispute with founder and former artistic director Greg Allen, the Neos continue to churn out more new scripts ( albeit super-short ones ) than any other company in town.

The late-night show, now called The Infinite Wrench, largely follows the template set by "Too Much...": thirty short plays, all created by the ensemble in an ever-changing line-up, to be performed within one hour. The aesthetic is randomness ( the running order is determined by audiences shouting out the numbers next to the titles in the program, and the admission price by rolling dice ), risk and realness. The goal is a "fusion of sport, poetry and living newspaper." The Neo-Futurists also have branches in New York City and San Francisco performing their version of The Infinite Wrench.

Current artistic director Kurt Chiang, who joined the ensemble in 2008 and took his current position in 2015, said "We're the granddaddy of the indefinable theater." Indeed, it's always been easier to describe the Neos in terms of what they are not: namely, NOT a sketch or improv company.

They're also not solely defined by the late-night show. For many years, they've presented prime-time shows created within the ensemble ( which has encompassed more than 70 people since the company's founding ). More recently, they've started fostering these shows through the Neo-Lab, which offers one ensemble member per season a commission to develop work through what Chiang called "a long-term public-facing process."

The first Neo-Lab show, Tif Harrison's Saturn Returns, opened in 2016. Since then, the company has presented Kirsten Riiber's Tangles & Plaques, based on her work with Alzheimers patients. ( The show recently won an NEA grant to tour colleges and healthcare training institutions. ) Next up, in March, is Nick Hart's Remember the Alamo. Meantime, Ida Cuttler's Comfortable Shoes, which combines running and the narrative structure of 1,001 Nights, gets a public workshop presentation on Thursday, Nov. 29.

The interests of the ensemble drive the prime-time eclecticism. "As far as prime-time shows, because of our aesthetic and the fact that we're not playing characters, that lends itself in a way to talk about history or ideas," said Chiang.

Over the years, the performers have also drawn upon a wide range of styles in creating their short pieces and the prime-time work. Lisa Buscani, one of the earliest "Too Much" ensemble members who still performs with The Infinite Wrench, was a National Poetry Slam champion in 1992. Her recent pieces in Wrench felt reminiscent of poetic monologues she did in the earlier days. Jay Torrence, a former ensemble member, brought an interest in physical theater and clowning, as seen in his full-length devised piece about the 1903 Iroquois Theatre fire, Burning Bluebeard. ( The show, first produced in 2011, plays Dec. 26-31 at the Neo-Futurists in a co-production with the Ruffians. )

"When you do a full-length work, you really are allowed to bring to the table all of these different influences you're exploring already," said Torrence. Cuttler, who was in the lab process for Riiter's Tangles & Plaques, said "It's definitely a newer thing, when you're used to making shorter plays with a quick turnaround, to sit with an idea and actually be able to work on devising and trying things and having them fail."

In the viral digital age, even the short topical pieces that go into The Infinite Wrench each week run the risk of feeling stale. Chiang said "You have to change the nature of your vitriol. To make quote-unquote political work or a play that is speaking toward the greater world situation; you're not the smartest quote anymore. You're not the first response by a long shot."

Instead, the work in The Infinite Wrench often focuses on what managing director Kendall Karg calls "creating imagery you'll go home with it." In a recent performance, the ensemble sat in a line and passed handfuls of water to one another while meditating on how much easier it is to opt out of the political process when one has privilege. It created an apt metaphor for "trickle-down" power—those who have the most "water" don't think about preserving access for people struggling to get just enough to survive.

Those politics are also reflected in how the company is run. Karg told Windy City Times, "One of the first things the board president and everybody interviewing me said was 'You have to really be ready to collaborate with the artists. They're your boss. They're going to impose consensus model techniques when you work with them.'"

Today, that model still guides the company and its larger commitment to the neighborhood. "This place is always spoken of as the center of community," said Karg. "People feel that they're at home here. They meet up with their friends here. We have proposals on that stage all the time."

"We're a baffling place," said Chiang with a laugh. Perhaps. But the Neo-Futurists have every intention of keeping audiences baffled for another 30 years.

The Neo-Futurists will offer a special 30th-anniversary performance of The Infinite Wrench on Sunday, Dec. 2, 7 p.m. at the Neo-Futurist Theater, 5153 N. Ashland Ave. Information and reservations at 773-878-4557 or NeoFuturists.org .


facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

THEATER REVIEW How to Live on Earth 2019-03-15 - Playwright: MJ Kaufman At: Chimera Ensemble at the Flatiron, 1573 N. Milwaukee Ave. Tickets: ChimeraEnsemble.com; $23. Runs through: March 24 Those ...


Gay News

eta seeking executive director 2019-03-14 - The board of directors for the eta Creative Arts Foundation is seeking an experienced executive director with a strong background in African-American arts ...


Gay News

Ravinia Festival Experience Center, immersive-experience theater, to open 2019-03-14 - HIGHLAND PARK, IL — Ravinia Festival will open a major addition to the park, the RaviniaMusicBox Experience Center, later this summer. The new ...


Gay News

Women In Comedy to host "A Love Letter to Myself, A Chicago Variety Show" 2019-03-13 - Chicago, Illinois — On Monday March 25, Women in Comedy hosts "A Love Letter to Myself" from 6 to 9 p.m. at Revolution ...


Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Remember the Alamo 2019-03-13 - Playwright: Nick Hart At: The Neo-Futurist Theatre, 5153 N. Ashland Ave. Tickets: neofuturists.org; $25 ( pay-what-you can Thursday nights ). Runs through: April ...


Gay News

THEATER REVIEW The Bridges of Madison County 2019-03-13 - Authors: Marsha Norman and Jason Robert Brown At: Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre, 721 Howard St., Evanston. Tickets: www.theo-u.com or 773-347-1109; $39-69. Runs through: ...


Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Southern Comfort 2019-03-13 - Authors: Dan Collins ( book/lyrics ) and Julianne Wick Davis ( music ) At: Pride Films & Plays, 4139 N. Broadway. Tickets: 866-811-4111; ...


Gay News

THEATER REVIEW The Man Who Was Thursday 2019-03-12 - Playwright: adapted by Bilal Dardai from the story by G.K. Chesterton. At: Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood Ave. Tickets: LifelineTheatre.com and 773-761-4477; ...


Gay News

Critics' Picks 2019-03-12 - On Clover Road, American Blues Theater at Stage 773, through March 16. The unplanned Steven Dietz festival continues with this twisted desert-cult psychological ...


Gay News

SPRING THEATER REVIEW Hot-button plays for a cold spring 2019-03-12 - The groundhog lied to us! Winter in Chicago is not yet over, boots and parkas still litter the foyers and the New Year ...


 



Copyright © 2019 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Sponsor

About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.