Georgia Clark's Arts Mixtape

Too Much Light? Never!
The New York Neo-Futurists launch the sixth year of "Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind"; a lightning-paced attempt to perform 30 plays in 60 minutes.

New York Neo-Futurists

"Too Much Light"
The Kraine Theater, 85 East Fourth Street, New York, NY
Every Friday and Saturday at 10.30pm.
Tix: $11.00 plus the roll of a six-sided die ($12-$16) at the door.
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You heard us right: 30 plays in 60 minutes! The New York Neo-Futurists, an ensemble of dynamic writer/performer/directors, present a non-illusory collage of the comic and tragic, the political and personal, the visceral and experimental, while embracing chance, change, and chaos. Developing out of the format that has been a success in Chicago since 1988, the New York Neo-Futurists have roots in NYC from the mid 90s. Since opening TML in New York, they have created over 2000 plays. We spoke to the Managing Director of the New York Neo-Futurists, Rob Neill, about what 2011 has in store for them.

Q. Can you describe what the show is about in your own words?

A. Each show is an ever-changing attempt to perform 30 original plays in 60 minutes in random order as determined by the audience as the show goes along. The audience, as they enter the theater, are handed a 'menu' (which is our program). To determine what play is next, the audience shout out the number (off the menu) for each play (numbers hang above the stage on a clothesline, Neos pull the number down for the next play). The plays are often funny, mostly personal, sometimes musical, political, dramatic, abstract and more--all of them are short and with each show we always look to entertain and activate the audience. Sometimes we get all 30 plays in and sometimes you have to come back and see them another night.

Q. Six years is a huge time for a show run! How has the work evolved and what to you attribute its ongoing relevance to?
A. Not only is every show of "Too Much Light…" different, but we have a large and talented ensemble of writer/performers who are creating new plays each week, so the show is always fresh and reflecting our lives and how we are experiencing the world. The show changes all the time so people come back to see the new plays and what--plays, cast, topics--has changed

Q. How does it break new ground artistically?
A. In Neo-Futurism we embrace chance, change and chaos. There's minimal pretense or acting: ‘e are who we are, we are where we are and we are doing what we are doing’. With "Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind" we are always trying new things, there is planned obsolescence?plays only have a certain shelf life, there is room for failure (and responding to and adjusting for that), and we are always challenging ourselves to do something new--to stretch neo-futurism and ourselves as artists, we are responding to and what fascinates us and to the world around us, in addition to activating and challenging the audience. Things are in a random order; you never know what is coming next. And we try to do it all in a race against the clock?we only have 60 minutes each night to do all 30 plays!

Q. What sort of other pop culture works is it in the vein of?
A. I would say it is in the vein of "Saturday Night Live" for the theater, we definitely have a similar weekly schedule?writing, pitching, rehearsing, weekend show(s), and we deal with politics and pop culture often taking stories and ideas right from the headlines to make our plays. Since there are so many ensemble members and we each use a variety of styles the show at times takes from Slam, circus, storytelling, dance, puppetry, improv, even sports. If I were to pick a band I would say we are Animal Collective-y, a film: "20 Bucks", a painting Demuth’s "Figure No. 5", and we are probably more short story than novel.

Q. What's it like performing to NY vs Chicago audiences
A. We're more of an established institution in Chicago and so often more of the audience have been to the show and know how to be a "TMLMRBGB" audience?they are faster to respond and participate, for example. In addition, that makes the Chicago audience easier to mess with (plus there are more seats in the theater, and thus more willing participants to go along with what we are doing)… In New York we are fighting a little more for our place in the indie world and have not been around as long, so that perhaps makes the show more raw or maybe less pat or predictable. In both cities the audience is always surprising and engaging me.

Q. Can you tell me a funny anecdote or nerve-racking moment from a previous show?
A. We did have a play in the show, a while back, where I had to go out the backdoor and to the fire escape, and while I was out there, talking to the Neos on stage, a woman who lives across the courtyard felt that I was too loud for 11pm on a Friday night, and the best method to make me quiet down was to douse me with her garden hose. Fortunately, I could continue the play from on the fire escape, talking to the people on stage with the backdoor as a shield. She then focused most of the hosing onto my feet, which I told everyone about as it was happening (like I was reporting ‘live from the fire escape’). At the end of the play, I thanked her for her addition to the show and ran back in to the Kraine Theater. I had a very wet Adidas for the rest of the show.

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