Wednesday, August 26, 2009


If you've seen us perform Ulysses' Crewmen and were confused or upset in any way, we hope you spoke with us afterward. If you didn't feel comfortable or weren't able to speak with us, we owe you an apology.

We hope to create an intense and powerful experience for our audiences, but we do not intend to shock, upset or bewilder them. We withdraw from the quasi-mystical sublime in art. We know some artists are really into this kind of thing; fetishizing the ineffable, the emotionally deep, the ambiguously ironic, or the 'true expression of their artistic soul'. We're not. We do find such approaches occasionally intriguing, but too often they result in work that is either trite and sentimental or manipulative and self-indulgent. We try instead to be clear, approachable and honest. This doesn't always work. Sometimes the stress, exhaustion and excitement of performing (not to mention limits of time and space) make it hard for us to always be as open and available as we'd like at our performances.

Any work of art more involved than a shallow representation can be thought of as a sort of puzzle. We would like our play's puzzle to be challenging, but workable. We want Ulysses' Crewmen to ask compelling questions, and suggest interesting potential answers, without force feeding or coddling the audience.

If this didn't work for some in the audience we consider it mostly our fault. A good play should contain and communicate its intentions fully within itself. We're offering a poor substitute in cases where such communication has failed. If you have questions, please contact us via email and we will gladly answer your questions and send you a thorough statement of our intentions (which we don't want to publish here, cuz it's kind of long and might spoil the play for those who haven't seen it). Send requests to this email:

This statement of intentions does not cancel or abolish any other interpretation of the play. Art's meaning comes from audience reaction as much as from artist's intention. We are only sharing our thoughts to avoid confusion, dismiss mystification, answer questions, make suggestions and add to the crowd of valid but divergent responses we’re hoping the play creates.

Milwaukee Press

We got a bunch of press in the Milwaukee papers and blogs. Most notably this short positive review in The Shepherd, which calls the show
"a drama animated by a dark brutality" which "create[s] a fascinating dynamic" and that "[Kate] Pleuss brilliantly handles the challenge" of this play. - Russ Bickerstaff
In addition Russ also wrote this preview and this blog post and The Onion's AV Club Milwaukee interviewed ben about leaving Milwaukee.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Show 3: Borg Ward

Turnout: 20
Monetary Votes of Support: 64
Personal Injury Report: Nada, we are getting better.

Description: After the show we got some feedback that the second time seeing it is more disturbing than the first. Performance-wise, I felt more confident about the middle and end of the show than the beginning. Ben had his best performance yet. All in all: Satisfying. We also got to peek in the The Borg Ward's old old body cooler.

Did you see these shows? If you did, post comments, questions or reviews.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Shows 1 and 2: Cream City Collectives

Night One, August 14th

Turnout: 40-50
Monetary Votes of Support: 124
Personal Injury Report: Kate mercilessly bashed Ben in the noggin with the gun.

Description: Success! The audience got it. The formal Brechtian tactics were described as being a little odd at first but then gotten used to. The night left us feeling a bit invincible. ~

Night Two, August 15th

Turnout: 15
Monetary Votes of Support: 15
Personal Injury Report: UNSCATHED!

Description: Wah, wah... Second night was not as energized as the first. But we did prove for a second time that we can in fact carry the entire set on our backs on bicycles in the dark, and were also asked by a pleased audience member if we like being who we are. ~

Did you see these shows? Please post reviews in the comment form below!

This Blog

This blog is an open archive providing in depth documentation of Insurgent Theatre's Ulysses' Crewmen project.

Here we will:

1. transparently present the results of this experiment in radical economy.
Each performance begins with a brief discussion of our economic practices. We've made these practices a component of the show. Ulysses' Crewmen does not make sense as a play outside of this context. One of these practices is, whenever possible, doing the show for free and accepting voluntary donations. If we are going to successfully solicit such donations from people, we feel it's important to be honest and transparent about where our money is coming from and how it is being spent.

2. offer audiences an opportunity to discuss, feedback, and communicate with us and each other about the show.
We create art with the intention of communicating with our audience. We love when the audience communicates back. We prefer to hear criticism and reviews as a crowd of voices rather than a filtered viewpoint of a supposed expert.

3. Document and communicate our experiences on the road.
We do not want D I Y theatre touring to be this really cool thing that only people with connections are able to do. We want to empower anyone who wants to make theatre and present it outside of the restrictive channels of established practices. We hope to share advice, lessons learned, and contacts. If you have any questions, or need help with a tour or a show you are attempting to bring together yourself, please, do not hesitate to ask. Ben can be reached at 414 305 9832 or