This last weekend was chock-full of theater, most of it pretty good.
On Friday night, KW and I went to check out "Job Opportunity." It's a play that takes place in an actual car being driven around Chicago -- at most 4 people, sitting in the back seat, can see each performance. I found out it about from a Tribune review where the Neutrino Project was name-checked. I'm happy to report that it's great. We were the whole audience (which was nice, because I can imagine the back seat would be crowded with 4 people) and we were quickly immersed in the efforts of two friends to deliver a mysterious package. The use of actual Chicago (in fact, mostly my neighborhood) adds quite a bit to an already-good play. (The Tribune review doesn't seem to be online, for some reason, so check out the Reader listing.)
Saturday afternoon, we went with a high-school friend of KW's and his wife to see Naked Eye's "Nickel and Dimed" (a play based on the book by Barbara Ehrenreich). We had a nice pizza lunch at Lou Malnati's, I had really enjoyed Naked Eye's "The Idiot Box," and I'd heard good things about the book, so I was ready to enjoy an afternoon of theater. Sadly, I was disappointed. The production was well-produced and the cast was all very capable, but I found the play preachy and clumsy, and I found the character of Barbara very unlikable (KW had read the book and said that didn't reflect the voice of the author).
So, then I was off from criticizing the work of others to seeing if I could produce some worthwhile theater of my own.
Let's just start with the fact that Saturday's Neutrino Project 30,000 was the smoothest setup we've had so far. The 3 Penny schedules us as though we were a movie, so we have a very short amount of time after the previous movie lets out to blow into the theater and get our entire, complicated technical setup going. Oh, and my iBook, which does the credits for the show, had a harddrive crash about an hour and a half before the show. Did I panic? Nope, we just grabbed a small white board on the way out of the house and did the credits the way the New York Neutrino does.
On top of that, the actual show was great. Todd Leibov joined Ben to create the live score -- Todd and Ben have done all the Cinema 2.0 shows together, which is a similar enterprise for them, so they were able to really attack the score. This was Ben's 9th Neutrino Project as musical director, so he was getting pretty agressive with the sampler -- sampling lines of dialogue and layering them over the scenes and transitions.
I was a runner for the show. I was theoretically an actor for this run, but in the end I'll only have done 4 shows on-screen. I've run twice (once planned, once to fill an emergency need) and shot twice (same thing). I think I'd love to be in the Neutrino Project as an actor if someone else was producing it -- I end up running around until the last second and it is tricky to switch gears into the mindset to be the best improvisor I can be.
After NP30K, I stayed to help transition the equipment for "Dr. Obvious". My friend Kate Parker is producing a new show at the 3 Penny right after NP30K, and she's renting a bunch of my equipment to do her show. "Dr. Obvious" is inspired by Mystery Science Theater 3000. Which is to say, the show features 3 performers on microphones talking over a movie (in this run, Schwarzenegger's The Running Man). Which is to say, it's an exact rip-off of MST3K.
Given that, it's a pretty good rip-off. Kate, Dave Colan, and Bob Ladewig are all quick and clever and they've come up with a fun show. I saw it at a tech rehearsal earlier last week and I was quite amused.
I am sure that the show will inspire some marketplace-confusion between Dr. Obvious and Cinema 2.0 (unless I'm flattering myself that anyone knows about either of our shows). Here's your quick guide to the two shows:
- a FuzzyCo/WNEP co-production at WNEP Theater
- a new movie every month
- closest pop-culture reference point: What's Up Tiger Lily?
- a 3AM Idea production at the 3 Penny Cinema
- the same movie for the run
- closest pop-culture reference point: Mystery Science Theater 3000
So anyway, after I helped get the gear set up, I headed over to WNEP to catch opening night of a new run of Angry White Guy Reads the Paper. I didn't make it, but there's a plug, anyway.
I did make it to WNEP in time for Sickest Stories. For a change, I had nothing to executive produce about the show -- I wasn't in it, I didn't have to do tech, I just hung out at the back of the theater and watched. Dee-lightful.
And that was the weekend -- Sunday I had an abortive computer-fixing appointment, so I spent a good chunk of the day playing Morrowind. I... no, I don't think I'm going to try and make the argument that that's theater.