30 plays in 60 minutes
cast keeps audience entertained, alert
“Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind:” 30 plays within a play. If that doesn’t sound tricky enough for you, throw in the fact that it’s timed. This play of 30 plays is performed within a 60-minute time frame, making each an average two minutes long. This play features the neo-futurists, which simply means the cast members act as themselves. They are dressed in their ordinary, every day clothes and are addressed by their own names as the program suggests. It’s a unique and refreshing concept compared to an ordinary play one would see, where actors actually perform as someone else’s identity.
There are rules to follow to make this production run smoothly in the short amount of time that is allowed. First, there is a clock ticking away at all times, placed in a position for all members of the audience to see.
“We will drop everything when the time runs out, even if we are in the middle of a sentence,” Wacey Gallegos, senior of Ainsworth, said at the beginning of the play.
Second rule: The audience is in charge of the play sequence. When a cast member says the word “curtain” the audience yells out a play number from the program that they want to see performed next. The cast member will say the number and the title of the play. The lights will dim as they quickly prepare the scene. And lastly, the announcer will repeat the play title and ask if the cast members are ready. If all is well, the action begins.
The audience members are on the edge of their seats throughout the entire performance because the cast members are constantly interacting with their viewers. Gallegos also makes it a last-minute effort before the show begins to warn the audience that there is, “no fourth wall in this show.” Each audience member is given a nametag with a random name. You are that person for the night. I had the privilege of being LiLo as I sat back and enjoyed the action unwind.
Viewers had to be on top of their game just as much as the actors. It was our responsibility to keep the momentum going and not waste time selecting the next play to be performed. It was also our job to participate if we were asked to participate.
One girl was made a target for a crazy lady with a steak knife (no harm done, just acting), and anxiously awaited her moment of stardom. While others were offered a dollar bill if they performed an act such as, “bark like a dog,” or “show the audience your belly button.”
The selection of plays performed consisted of a variety of different themes: horror, comedy, political, and even elements of déjà vu. There were moments of pure silence, like in play “#35: Building,” where the audience can literally hear the clock ticking. At other moments the room is filled with loud noise, like in play “#14: How to War,” the sound of explosions bounce off the walls. If this isn’t dramatic enough for you, consider the fact that they incorporate a little exercise as well when they perform play “#30: 30 Second Tag,” where the cast members literally run around playing tag. There are, however, a few tricks up their sleeves because a few of these plays aren’t really much of anything, for example, play “#28: Tool.” One may think this is a play performed with a hammer, screwdriver, or even a wrench, but it’s not. It’s really a figurative “tool” that has no performance at all, it simply is there as a quick pass-by play to make up for any lost time. Quite humorous in the scheme of things.
It is clear that a cast will have to practice for several hours to master a play this intense. They must know each play perfectly to perform them in any given order. It was said that they had rehearsal for three hours every night for a month. Ultimately their practice paid off considering all that they accomplished. However, they didn’t quite make the 60-minute mark, and tacked on two more minutes for the audience’s benefit to see the ending of the last play, “#36: It’s a Breeze.” I think if their transitions were a little smoother, they would have had that last 30 seconds they needed. Granted it’s also tough when you depend on an audience that is not exactly prepared for what is to come next. The actors and actresses did such a great job under pressure and weren’t shy to pull people from the audience or even sit with the audience members mid-play.
Overall, I would say they did a great job and kept me entertained the entire hour. Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. today through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday in Memorial Hall’s Black Box Theatre.
all genres represented in ‘Too Much Light’
The goal is to perform 30 plays in 60 minutes. But at the end of 60 minutes, the entire show is over, whether all 30 plays were performed or not.
Some of the plays are funny, some are serious, some of them are meant to be horror, but this can’t be denied: They are all rather unique.
The actors, called neo-futurists, engage the audience constantly throughout the show. The term neo-futurists simply means that the actors are playing themselves, with no hiding from the audience as another character, Courtney Smith, freshman of Hampton, explains.
At the beginning, the cast explains all of the rules regarding the show: whenever any cast member yells “curtain,” the audience shouts out the number of the play they want to see.
There is lots of interaction throughout the entire show, both with the actors themselves and the audience.
When the audience chooses the play, an actor pulls the sheet of paper that represents it off the clothesline, reads the title, and then tosses the paper ball toward the audience.
Each play is briefly introduced before it goes into action, and since there is so much moving of props and actors, assistant stage manager Taylor Thies, freshman of Rapid City, South Dakota, makes sure the actors and stage manager Jessica Steffen-Schepers, senior of Chadron, are ready before the beginning of each skit.
And then the audience is thrown into the next play, unknowing whether it is going to be a romantic comedy or some sort of zombie spin-off.
There are moments of conspiracy, like in “#23: This Play Does Not Exist,” where all but one actor insist vehemently that the 23rd play does not exist, only for a twist at the end.
There are sweet little moments of a sort of teenage romance, like in “#16: Ten Years…and six months.”
Some of the plays last only a few seconds but others go on for between two and five minutes; each tell a story of their own.
Play “#16: Ten Years…and six months” is one of these plays. It tells a story in black and white, no-words-but-with-background-music sort of way, with a cute little exchange of flowers and kisses on the cheek of a shy, blossoming love.
There are also moments of danger, though they are covered with comedy. The occasional throwing of sharp objects may occur during a play or two with a cartoonish feel to it.
Smith, for instance, throws knives and decides she wants to throw them at a person. She slowly progresses up in the danger of objects until she comes across a hatchet, blindfolds herself, and is spun around by Wacey Gallegos, senior of Ainsworth, so she is aiming her hatchet toward the audience. Don’t worry though, no one gets hurt.
On more than one occasion, things are lit on fire. During “#23: This Play Does Not Exist” they burn the paper for that play. Then during “#16: Ten Years…and six months,” Jennaya Hill, freshman of Gordon, burns one of the roses handed to her from Samuel Martin, junior of Hot Springs, South Dakota, much to his disappointment.
There are moments of complete chaos, such as during “#30: 30 Second Tag” where the actors simply run around playing tag, but they also tag members of the audience and bring them into the play.
Not only are there interesting actions, the lighting is put to good use as well. At times the lighting is normal for a play, others the lighting is a bit dim, and then sometimes the only light in the entire Black Box Theatre is from little flashlights. In several of the skits the lighting is only a flashlight, which is used in a campfire storytelling sort of way, with the glow directed solely at the actor or actress’s face while he or she tells his or her part of the story. Those stories tend to be more serious.
But during others, such as “#6: Manifest Destiny,” it plays out somewhat like a game show—though in this game show, the audience randomly gets handed $1 bills. And yes, they do get to keep them. Don’t be fooled though, to get this dollar, you may have to perform some sort of act (nothing too grotesque though).
The play is in the Black Box Theatre because of its tendencies toward sexual innuendos, but otherwise it is acceptable for mature audiences.
“Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind” will open tonight in the Black Box Theatre and run until Sunday. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.