"TMLMTBGB": It's not just a bunch of letters
Published: Monday, April 30, 2012
Updated: Sunday, April 29, 2012 21:04
“He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not,” “Interrupting Telenovela Villain,” “In The Time It Takes To Gut A Pomegranate,” and “Mayor Emanuel’s School Day Reform Proposal” are just a few names of normal plays performed each weekend by The Neo-Futurists, who are known for their experimental style and dynamic motion. The Neo-Futurists combine an interactive show with fresh ideas and rapid movement to create an experience unlike anything else.
Futurism, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is characterized by an effort to express the energy of mechanical processes in art, literature and music. The Neo-Futurists attempt to express this energy through live performance. Writer/Director Greg Allen founded the company in 1988, based on ideals of the Italian futurists as well as the randomness of the Dadaists and experimental 1960s-style audience interactions. In the Neo-Futurarium, there is no “fourth wall” between the audience and the actors; the audience is a part of the show.
The Neo-Futurarium is located above a funeral home in Chicago's Andersonville neighborhood. The path to the performance space is riddled with hallways and staircases, heralding an antiquated feel complete with peeling paint and a hall of paintings and representations of past Presidents of the United States.
The theater itself has 160 wooden seats with the front row right on the floor that makes up the stage. A huge chalkboard takes up the front wall as a backdrop to the stage, and props are pretty much laying in the corners of the room. This all adds to the feeling that the audience is actually part of the production. The catalog of props for the show changes on any given night, but on many nights it includes chairs and squirt guns.
“Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind,” also known as “TMLMTBGB,” has been the front-running show performed by the Neo-Futurists since the company began. “TMLMTBGB” is a series of 30 plays performed in 60 minutes, with the cast yelling “Curtain” between each subsequent play. The chaos that ensues when eight performers are running around the stage for an hour straight acting out plays, changing into makeshift costumes, setting up props and yelling makes this show so entertaining that it should not be passed up. The plays are written by the actors and constantly changing. Each week a die is rolled to see how many new plays the Neo-Futurists will write for the next weekend's performances.
The actual plays of “TMLMTBGB” range from ridiculous to serious commentary to musical and dance numbers, and the audience chooses which plays they actually get to see. As soon as patrons walk into the theater, they are handed a “menu” with a list of all the play names for the night. When the actors yell “Curtain,” audience members simultaneously yell the number of the play that they want to see. Some plays are completely understandable, while others are just out-there.
Anyone who enjoys laughing hysterically with a group of other people who are also laughing hysterically, or think they would enjoy seeing a play by the name of “Some of this play is true, some of this play is false, some of it has a bad southern accent, and most of it is greatly exaggerated,” will benefit from attending a Neo-Futurist performance.
“Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind” plays at the Neo-Futurarium (5153 N. Ashland Ave., Chicago, Ill.) on Fridays and Saturdays at 11:30 p.m. and Sundays at 7:00p.m.Tickets range from $9 to $15. The Neo-Futurists also offer prime-time shows. For more information, visit www.neofuturists.org.