I’ve wanted to see the group The Neo-Futurists ever since a friend told me (and the whole class) about them way back at the beginning of my Second City training. He swore by them, they were just the best thing.
The biggest deterrent was how late the show was, 11:30, but as my show was at midnight I really didn’t have ground to argue anymore. So last Saturday I stood in line outside the building and there was a line around the block.
What I liked about the Neo-Futurists was it was an event from start to finish. It was clear this was going to be an event unlike any other. There are only 150 seats so you get a little token showing you had stood in line (that night had been little fire and police men). Then you go up these old wooden stairs (it’s above a funeral parlor in an old building). Then you go down a hallway filled with portraits of presidents. Some are very good, some are cartoons, some look like they were done by children. The holding area after that looks like it could have been a one room school-house with all its wood and molding (or the second floor to a funeral parlor), but there are a few former theatre seats so you can sit.
After a few minutes, two of the actors come out to explain the ticket prices. It’s $9 and the roll of a 6 sided die so you can pay anywhere from $10 to $15. I rolled a 2 so I paid $11. Just inside the theatre another actor asked your name for your name tag, but writes another word. I was “Majesty” (what can I say? They call them like they see them).
The show needed to take place that late at night because in a way it is dream-like. It can only take place at a time where you see things out of the corners of your eyes and you’re on your second or third wind.
The show is called “Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind”. The cast attempts to perform 30 plays in 60 minutes. A number line hangs from the ceiling and when the audience calls (screams) out what number they want to see next, an actor jumps and pulls that number down. Some of the plays were funny, some of them were dramatic. They don’t pretend to be other people on stage, they explained. All the plays came from their experiences which made them more interesting for me. Did they know a baby who had gotten drunk on margarita mix? Did she divorce her husband or was that just venting so she could get on with her day?
We got through 28 of them. When the buzzer sounded, we all wanted more because it had been an experience unlike any other. All the plays were different and fast. I loved the high energy and the actors running around, getting in the crowd, having fun.
One of the reasons they’ve lasted 21 years is the audience. The audience is appreciated and played with from the get go. Some of the plays were interactive. Some relied on audience to do the acting. It felt like Medieval Times, only real. You were transported to a different time. I wasn’t focused on how they used their small space or other facets of writing and directing. There were your champions challenging themselves to get through the 30 plays in 60 minutes. It was a show and a community and I see why it is a staple of so many people’s Saturday nights.