Audiences visiting The Loft Orpheum Theater Nov. 7-9 were greeted by personable actors offering snacks for the show, creating mis-named tags for guests and ushering visitors to their seats amidst colorful lights and lively music as the Buena Vista High School Trident Theatre Company presented “Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind: 30 Neo-Futurist Plays in 60 Minutes.”
Instead of a usual program, guests were given a menu that listed the 30 short plays for the evening. At the end of each play, the actors would shout “Curtain!” and the audience was encouraged to call out the number of the play they wanted to see next. This guaranteed a randomized order of the selected plays, and an overall unique experience each night.
“It’s very different from shows we’ve done in the past, and it’s very interesting because a lot of people don’t know what it is so they come here not really expecting anything because they’ve never heard of the title. It’s really cool,” said sophomore Scarlet Kimbrel.
For her first show, Kimbrel was pretty nervous, but she mostly had fun, especially in “hanging out with the cast. They’re all a bunch of really cool people. It’s really fun to be a part of it even if I’m not in every single show.”
The actors kept up with the rapid pace and random selection without missing a beat. While the overall meaning of the production could be left to interpretation due to its randomized order, it was undeniably a unique experience.
“It’s definitely a different experience than all the other plays that I’ve done,” says sophomore Calvin Tattershall. “Usually you don’t interact with the audience. Usually it’s not as fast-paced, but it’s a really fun thing just to do differently, and to do something that you’re really not used to.”
Tattershall won’t forget his other performances, but such a stand-out production like this definitely won’t be forgotten either, especially when he and his peers are “making the most of it.”
As the actors portrayed themselves rather than fictional characters, they insisted the members of the audience be themselves too, as several plays included audience interaction and involvement. Actors performed amongst the audience as smoothly as they did on stage with one another.
One such member of the audience brought into the spotlight was Emiliano Illescas, a foreign exchange student currently living in Buena Vista. “I didn’t know what I was going on. It was really weird, but I had a lot of fun,” he said after taking part in the play “Blind Date.”
“It was awesome. I’ve never seen something like that in my life. It was really funny. I had a lot of great times… The actors are great. Buena Vista High School is a really good place to act. The drama guys are really cool,” Illescas added.
Audience interaction plays were fairly popular with the younger spectators such as 10-year-old Mia Flowers, who especially enjoyed “We Are All Individuals” and the entertaining way it addressed individuality and conformity.
She had also called out number nine for “German 101” for at least half the show but went unheard. Ultimately, that play took place at the very end of the performance that evening, and to her and everyone else’s surprise it consisted of the actors stomping onto the stage shouting “nien” over and over.
This didn’t stop her from enjoying the show as a whole. “It was really good. It was funny,” Flowers said.
At the end of the show, other audience members were randomly chosen to roll dice to determine how many new shows will be introduced the next evening, adding to the uniqueness of each performance.
“I love giving the opportunity to laugh. It’s hard not to look at the audience and be like, ‘I want to make them laugh,’ but instead just saying, ‘I will give the opportunity, and I’ll be myself and I’ll do my best.’ I think it’s giving the opportunity but also acting with people that I really love to act with is really, really cool to me. We’re together as a team, and at this point we’re basically family,” Tattershall explained.
“We had a blast working at The Loft Orpheum Theater,” said director Tanner Oharah. “Jonathan Shea (the manager) was a great host, and it fit the style and set of the show perfectly. The cast and crew did a wonderful job of rolling with new locations and equipment as well as navigating the planned chaos of ever-changing shows with an order selected by the audience. I am very proud of the actors for being themselves and taking a risk. This unique experience will not be forgotten quickly.”
Be sure to return to The Loft on Dec. 6 at 7 p.m. for the BVHS winter choral concert “Through the Darkness.” In mid-March, the drama students will be back in action with the musical “Into the Woods.”