Sunday, January 10, 2010

Show 42 & 43: Chapel Hill, NC @ Nightlight

Turnout: 12 for the first show, 18 for the second.
Monetary Votes of Support: 51 and $40.16
Personal Injury Report: No injuries first night. Ben got shot dead with a banana on the second night.

Show Description: Most challenging discussions ever! Between the post show discussions and the Internationalist Books meeting, I can't really think of much to say much about our actual performances. People here are have been super critical and yet openly talkative, a really exciting combination. It's fucking GREAT! I hope we didn't fumble or put our foot in our mouths too often, cuz people definitely objected to what we're trying to do in some interesting and unanticipated ways, and I'm not sure we were always as articulate or clear as we'd like to be.

We were a little concerned coming into this weekend. Performing in a bar, twice in a city we've never played before is a risky endeavor, but thanks to the folks at Internationalist Books, Dan Mac (whose songs are awesome, rowdy and hilarious), Alexis at Nightlight, and Ickibod from The Mysterious Rabbit Puppet Army, the risks paid off and we had a two great shows. We also got to volunteer for a little while with Prison Books.

Also of note! Three masked vigilantes armed with a banana interrupted the end of the second show. I improvised playing dead (poorly, while laughing) and they left this message: "We killed capitalism. What?! That shit was tied up and ready to go. The 'global economy' is not 'all the oppressors and their victims' it's the flows of capital around the globe, the conversion of living into dead; it is not the workers, but the coercion of work. So now it's dead. Good fucking riddance. For once, violence went up the hierarchy, and it felt good. Can we really kill capitalism with one blow? No. Could theatre serve to inspire social conflict and courage? We hope so. [heart] the bonobo gang

We hope so too. In fact, we hope it can inspire a useful and successful social conflict.

Did you see this show? If you did, write a review, comment on it or ask some questions. We'd love to hear it because we believe in artistic transparency.


  1. Very cool ... I'm glad things went so well!

    It's great to hear how the banana blew up politics ;)


  2. More thoughts on these discussions. I'll frame them in response to the note, cuz that's already here, but they certainly apply to others' comments as well (if it's at all unclear, i think the interruption was great fun, but do prefer the direct, non-anonymous conversations we had.)

    1. I think it's foolish to abstract capital, to remove it from the human beings through which it flows. Yes, the system of capital tends to produce certain effects, seems to function as a life of it's own, but I think it's important to remember that there are human beings (including each of us) who negotiate, navigate, or passively absorb these capital flows. It's important that we critically examine our position within this system of flows, looking for both pitfalls and opportunities.

    2. Violence running up the heirarchy might feel good, but this kind of comment reminds me most of a middle aged liberal pacifist I met years ago. After the Iraq war she felt terrible until waving a sign on a street corner for an hour made all that guilt and unhappiness go away. Capitalism provides many products and services to make us feel good, these ultimately sublimate our desires. The pacifist could just as well gone to the yoga studio or popped some valium, likewise for insurrectionists who focus on outlets for their angst. Part of what we're talking about with this play is the necessity that we escape this kind of narcissism in our actions, because narcissism seems to often correlate with ineffectuality.

    At the discussions, many people raised situations in which violence, conflict, confrontation was not ineffectual, whether it felt good or not. We hope the play can help people find these distinctions and think critically about their own actions, whatever they might be.

    3. This is related to another aspect of the play which these discussions helped me discover (or be able to articulate) for the first time. Which is always exciting! I probably articulated it poorly on the spot, so here's another try: the play contains a contrast between planned and improvised actions, constantly switching between the two. Kate's character has a plan, but it is mostly futile, it becomes an absurd + desperate routine (mirroring Beckett's Endgame). When the plan fails she is left with improvisation. She unloads her emotional rage, assaults the delegate, this proves ultimately as futile as anything else. The play is very pessimistic in this way, when she "looks over the land of the dead" she sees Sisyphus pushing his rock, Tantalus eternally reaching for inaccessible food and drink, and the other Greek tortures for the dead.

    Hopefully this failure of both planning and improvisation raises questions like: What is wrong with her plan? Is this a flaw of planning in general, or only of this plan? Why? Likewise, does improvisation itself fail, or is our character improvising in a doomed situation? What dooms this situation? Are there situations we can enter which are not doomed? If not, how do we (to again reference Beckett) fail better in the situations we can enter into?