Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's Bête Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Beckett looking Beckettian


New Yorkers, mark your calendars. Coming on 2 years ago I posted my version of the story of how my friends and I wrote a monologue for Godot’s entrance, to sabotage a painfully bad production of Beckett’s great play. My friend Ross Lipman, whose idea the monologue was, has written a lovely and thoughtful account of the event, and he will be reading it at an event not-to-be-missed in New York on Wednesday, October 11. The third “Godot” co-author, my old housemate Jeff Dorchen, who was going to play Godot, found a copy of our script and has recorded it for inclusion in Ross’s reading.

Ross’s piece meditates on the nature of theatrical transgression and the power of the fourth wall. At that time, my crowd had staged a number of political guerrilla theater events, including some we could have been arrested for, and yet we didn’t have the gumption to disrupt a “criminally” stupid (and professional -- which made it a “legitimate” target for us) production of Waiting for Godot. (Be warned: Ross’s piece includes an embarrassingly flattering description of me which I don’t endorse, though my vanity does.)

The main ringleader of our two biggest guerrilla theater pieces was my friend Andrew Boyd, who went on to found Billionaires for Bush. He will be showing a new video, which I haven’t seen, at this New York event, called “THE OIL ENFORCEMENT AGENCY: BEHIND THE CONTROVERSY.”

The evening will also include Ross’s prescient video of one of our college street theater pieces, which Andrew conceived and for which I was one of the writers, a grand utopian project to provide free bikes for anybody to use in Ann Arbor. We commenced the project with a public exorcism -- Andrew’s idea -- religiously driving the demon of commodity value from the bikes. Ross’s video anticipates many of the techniques of Michael Moore’s documentary style -- it’s very funny, and he interviews many of the people who destroyed the bikes, and they’re very funny, sometimes inadvertantly. The exorcism is in the video, so I’m in it, as one of the exorcists. A 21-year-old, skinny and sideburned version of me.

Ross’s “Green Bikes” documentary includes fake documentary footage of a low-key televangelist who is exorcising the demon of complexity from the TV screen -- Ross’s ahead-of-its-time critique of the rise of fundamentalism. The exorcist is brilliantly played by my old roommate Danny Thompson, who half-improvised his lines. I mention this because Danny will have a piece in this not-to-be-missed evening (did I mention that this evening is not to be missed?), one of his hilarious puppet shows, purportedly Samuel Beckett’s first play, written at age six, “HAPPY HAPPY BUNNY MEETS SAD SAD OWL,” which was originally produced as part of The Complete Lost Works of Samuel Beckett as Found in an Envelope (Partially Burned) in a Dustbin in Paris Labeled Never to Be Performed. Never. Ever. EVER! Or I’ll Sue! I’LL SUE FROM THE GRAVE!!!” For reviews of which, see here. And also this -- completely true -- endorsement from New City paper in Chicago: “Danny Thompson's puppetry is so funny it hurts.” I saw “HAPPY HAPPY BUNNY MEETS SAD SAD OWL” in its original run, and not only is it one of the funniest things I have ever seen, but part of what makes it hilarious is that Danny really “gets” Beckett.

Rounding out the evening is video footage, which I have not seen, of another old roommate, and another ringleader of the guerrilla theater pieces, Michael Barrish. He is in the Green Bikes video as well, as is Andrew, prominently.

Politics, philosophical meditation on theater, and hilarity. I wish I could go -- old home week!


Wed Oct 11 7pm
Pioneer Theater
East 3rd Street, between Avenues A and B (closer to A)
New York City * USA
showtimes (212) 591 0434
advance tickets: click by showtime or call (800) 595 4849
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