Feature photo by Andrew Collings Photography

Econo. The term was coined by señor Mike Watt in 1985. “We jam econo,” was what the great bass player said, making a commentary on two things: The Minutemen‘s dedication to low-cost, quick, and efficient record production and touring, and their skill at exploring the musical possibilities of their singular fusion of jazz, funk and hard punk in less than three minute songs. The year before had seen the band’s release of the forty five song album Double Nickles on the Dime, where no song is like the one before, and perfectly different from the one after, all within the distinctive Minutemen sound. They jammed econo. What do we do econo? The Neo Futurists do theater econo.

You know how you are chilling in your home enjoying the color of the walls, perhaps a good book, a glass of chocolate milk, who knows? And then your significant other breaks your zen with complaints of “We don’t go out anymore” “I wish you took me places” “The T.V. is not an acceptable source of culture, dear” and drags you to the theater, drags you to this play with a pompous actor that is supposed to be the genetic blend of Hopkins and Day-Lewis, a play in “olde english” that you can scarcely understand, a play that is going WAY over your head?

And all you’re left to do is un-focus your eyes, zone out and painfully go through the songs of The Beatles’ White Album one-by-one?

In the hands of a Neo-Futurist, the above experience could turn into one of the thirty plays they attempt to perform in sixty minutes; the beauty of it is, if you hate it (unlikely) or is going over your head (doubt it), there will be a perfectly new and different play splashing you in the face (if you’re sitting close enough) before you’re done humming a Minutemen song!

Dice.

Every Sunday night after the show, the ensemble meets up and rolls two six-sided dice. The resulting number is the number of plays they cut off the menu that week, and the number of new plays there will be next week. Every Tuesday, each writer/director/performer pitches 2-6 new plays, in what Kurt Chiang (and many others) describes as auditioning for the company all over again. In Kurt’s words “Each author is in charge of adapting his/her script to the stage. Once all the plays are picked, we get up and everyone gets a chance to put the thing on its feet, look at it the best she can, and set it up in such a way that it will likely succeed that coming Friday. We take pride in staging things quickly and efficiently. This, of course, bites us in the ass on occasion. But the nature of Too Much Light allows a lot of leeway for mistakes to turn into effective theatrical moments”

The Neo-Futuraruium is located in Andersonville at 5153 N. ashland Ave. Tickets are available for the first 150 people in line, and their price is $9 plus the roll of a six sided die. Doors open at 11:00 pm.

And now, we end this by asking the ensemble members in our most James Lipton fashion, to answer for us the famous questionnaire written first by Marcel Proust and then taken by the great Bernard Pivot for his show “Bouillon de culture”

Mary K. Fons

  1. What is your favorite word? Creator.
  2. What is your least favorite word? Stop.
  3. What turns you on? Art.
  4. What turns you off? Phonies.
  5. What sound or noise do you love? Water lapping on the shores of Lake Michigan.
  6. What sound or noise do you hate? A jackhammer.
  7. What is your favorite curse word? Motherfuck.
  8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Journalist.
  9. What profession would you not like to do? Social worker.
  10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? “We did it.”
  11. What has been your favorite Neo-Futurist moment? Seeing certain ensemble members’ faces crack when I revealed I wasn’t a bleeding heart liberal was pretty good. But really, I live for the moments when I’m in TML and the artists I get to work with are at their peak and the show is an animal with a mind of its own. That is really good stuff.
  12. What has been your least favorite Neo-Futurist moment? When personalities clash around here, they really clash. That sucks.

Genevra Gallo-Bayiates

  1. What is your favorite word? This is hard. I love words. Love language. I guess, today, I’d have to say compassion. I spend a lot of time thinking about what it means, how to actualize it, and how best to model it for my daughter.
  2. What is your least favorite word? I really dislike language that carries with it a connotation of violence, hatred, or discrimination. There are many words that fall into this category, none of which I’d typically choose to write or speak aloud. If I were to think of the question in a more abstract and/or personal way, then perhaps I’d choose a word that carries meaning for me: anxiety. But that’s more about the emotion than the word!
  3. What turns you on? When I’m in the right headspace, everything does. Seizing upon every aspect of life and viewing it as a gift seems to be an exercise in (and commitment to) mindful intention. To be less zen-y and more specific… I love environmental performance and any kind of movement or dance. Music tends to hit my gut and get the wheels in my head churning, and I appreciate risk in performance. The spring weather has me twitterpated and feeling more bouncy. I love the way my husband smells. I sometimes still sniff his head. And I’m a sucker for anything happening around my neck.
  4. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?Ego. Cruelty. Apathy. Anger. Snark.
  5. What sound or noise do you love? I love the sound of my daughter’s laughter. Birds singing. And the hum of a lawnmower floating in through an open window – preferably while I’m drifting off to sleep in some sunshine.
  6. What sound or noise do you hate? Car alarms. Really loud sirens. Lately – the heavy clomping of my neighbor’s shoes on our bedroom ceiling.
  7. What is your favorite curse word? Honestly, now that I have a young child, I really try hard not to swear anymore. It’s weird; I’m way more sensitive to curse words than I ever used to be. But… when I’m not being careful, I think I still say “shit” a lot. It’s so utilitarian.
  8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Well, I actually just received a master’s degree in counseling as part of an intended career shift – and I’m still looking for work. So I’ll say being a counselor.
  9. I hate food service of nearly any kind. I made a promise to myself really early in my theatre career I would never wait tables – just not my thing – and I never have.
  10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? Good job, Genevra!
  11. What has been your favorite Neo-Futurist moment? The touring was always really fun. I think two of my favorite spots (and some of my favorite memories) come from the tours we did in Beaver Creek, CO and Atlanta, GA. Beaver Creek has some stunning nature, and I absolutely love Colorado… and Dad’s Garage (in Atlanta) is filled with really tremendous, creative, funny people – I always miss them like crazy.
  12. What has been your least favorite Neo-Futurist moment? A little while ago, the computer system in the office crashed and the theatre lost a lot of files that were stored on the hard drive. It included pictures, sound files, scripts, bios, stuff from all our shows. A lot of my work was lost and I didn’t have personal backups… so it’s sort of like having your history with the company erased. It made me incredibly sad – not just for me but for a lot of the artists who have gone on to do other things and whose Neo-Futurist documentation no longer exists.

Caitlin Stainken

Tag-line or catchphrase: I threw up

  1. What is your favorite word? Lasagna
  2. What is your least favorite word? Retard
  3. What turns you on? Hygiene rituals
  4. What turns you off? Industrial odors
  5. What sound or noise do you love? Water slapping on a boat’s hull
  6. What sound or noise do you hate? Untraceable electric hums
  7. What is your favorite curse word? Homenum revelio!
  8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Urban farmer
  9. What profession would you not like to do? Sloth researcher
  10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? Welcome
  11. What has been your favorite Neo-Futurist moment? Me and Bilal have the same birthday
  12. What has been your least favorite Neo-Futurist moment? When a bully pushed me off my hippity-hop

Kurt Chiang

  1. What is your favorite word? – I don’t have a favorite word. But when I talk about something being my favorite something, I tend to use the word “favorite.”
  2. What is your least favorite word? – I don’t have one. My friend from high school didn’t like the word “oxymoron.” That’s what I think of with that question.
  3. What turns you on? – Sex
  4. What turns you off? – Various circumstances in adult life.
  5. What sound or noise do you love? – I love music and noise, and I love finding new sounds and music and noise.
  6. What sound or noise do you hate? – It was always interesting to me that Rumpelstiltskin hated the sound of his own name.
  7. What is your favorite curse word? – I don’t have a favorite curse word. I just say “fuck” a lot.
  8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? – framing, or carpentry
  9. What profession would you not like to do? – lots
  10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? – I don’t think the gates would be pearly. And I think God would be further into the City than right at the gates.
  11. What has been your favorite Neo-Futurist moment? – I really enjoyed performing TML at the 10th annual Midwestern Furfest last summer. Those people were so kind and welcoming to us in their very specialized culture/geekdom (and I use “geek” in the a complimentary sense). They also dug the choatic dynamic of the show right away, which is rare for people who see the show for the first time. Also, there was a recent show where I was to slap Tim in the face for a play. I was slightly off the mark the first attempt, so I slapped him again. He responded by slapping me back, which knocked me to the floor. It was very Neo-Futurist.
    12. What has been your least favorite Neo-Futurist moment? – I was once told I look like Peter Parker, which I thought was rad, but then I realized the girl who told me that more likely meant I look like the Sea Biscuit actor, which is disheartening. But she seemed to like the show a lot, and the plays, and that is fun.

Tim Reid
Tag-line or catchphrase: Thank you for pumping me up.

  1. What is your favorite word? Hot tub
  2. What is your least favorite word? When they changed the way they cook the chicken wings at the bar around the corner
  3. What turns you on? inaccessibility
  4. What turns you off? oversleeping
  5. What sound or noise do you love? Microsoft Outlook’s “you’ve got mail” sound
  6. What sound or noise do you hate? When you’re on a plane that’s been delayed a while and the captain comes on to tell you something minor’s going on and it’ll just be a little bit longer but you know he’s just buying time because something more is going on and the flight is probably going to be delayed
  7. What is your favorite curse word? fuck
  8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Beach ball
  9. What profession would you not like to do? minister
  10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? Don’t hold your breath
  11. What has been your favorite Neo-Futurist moment? Every once in a while when I’m in the show I’ll catch myself watching it, just watching it, and be amazed
  12. What has been your least favorite Neo-Futurist moment? Still being totally unclear about how to explain the show to people who’ve never seen it

Greg Allen

  1. What is your favorite word? Nomenclature
  2. What is your least favorite word? Republican
  3. What turns you on? My wife
  4. What turns you off? My ex-wife
  5. What sound or noise do you love? My daughter Simone’s laugh
  6. What sound or noise do you hate? My son Tyler chewing with his mouth open.
  7. What is your favorite curse word? Fuck-mop
  8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Woodworker
  9. What profession would you not like to do? Cop
  10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? “You get to try it again.”
  11. What has been your favorite Neo-Futurist moment? We used to do a play called something like “Your Turn” where we snuck out into the audience in a blackout, gave someone a flashlight, cleared the stage, and called “Go!” On one particular night this was the last play on the clothesline. We gave someone a flashlight, cleared the stage, and called “Go!” The person with the flashlight turned it on, turned to everyone in the audience, and quietly said “Well, let’s go”. He then quietly led the way out of the theater, out of the building, and into the night. A couple ensemble members were worried about the post-show announcements and getting the flashlight back and I said to just let it happen, we can afford another flashlight. That night we didn’t have a curtain call or anything, the audience just quietly, peacefully walked out of the theater and out into the world. It was beautiful.
  12. What has been your least favorite Neo-Futurist moment? John Pierson and I were performing a play in “Too Much Light” where he would hold a flower out towards the audience and I would reach out with a pair of powerful pruning sheers and snip off the blossom before they could receive it. One night a particularly eager audience member reached out quickly to take the flower and I had already started to close the sheers to snip off the bloom. I could tell I made contact with their hand which they quickly pulled back and hid beneath them. THANK GOD only the outside of the sheers had touched their hand or I would have snipped their fingers right off.

Bilal Dardai
Tag-line or catchphrase: “That could work.”

  1. What is your favorite word? nonsense
  2. What is your least favorite word? wad
  3. What turns you on? laughter
  4. What turns you off? overcast weather
  5. What sound or noise do you love? “Huh.”
  6. What sound or noise do you hate? Sandpaper.
  7. What is your favorite curse word? “Bugger.”
  8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Tour guide
  9. What profession would you not like to do? Anything high finance
  10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? “Ready for another one?”
  11. What has been your favorite Neo-Futurist moment? There have been so many. To pick one: Opening night of Contraption.
  12. What has been your least favorite Neo-Futurist moment? The argument in the room the night the TML play Donkey Punch was proposed.

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