04 May 2009

Motherfucking House Managing, Bitches!

You know what I didn't know about myself until this weekend? I really like house managing. Working a box office, checking people in, trading money for programs ("It's also your ticket.") counting out the cash box while listening to the audience and the show through the curtain, and then a peek through the door or whatever at the back of the theatre to watch my favorite part. Oddly satisfying stuff.

And a good thing, too, because between Wednesday and Sunday I house managed (to some definition of the word) five performances of three different shows. Thursday and Saturday it was the end-of-the-year performance for the high school acting lab at work, which every year is heart-filling and soul-fortifying, but this year especially. It's a magical combination - high schoolers finding their voices (both in the senses of expressing themselves and of literally standing on a stage and being brave enough to speak those words), and then, like, three boys in suits NAILING the "Single Ladies" dance. (Maybe the most joyous thing I've seen on a stage since ever.) I know some of these kids from the playwriting lab, some from previous years' performances, some not at all. At the end of the show, I love every single one of them. Being just the teeniest bit involved might be the most important thing I do with my life. (I should file that away for my impending 5-year reunion. Beats "Uh, yeah, it's cool. I get to twitter some.")

And then, not that this is a proper follow-up, but it's also exciting and awesome theatre, I've been helping out at the Brick (ohmygod so far from Inwood) with Terrible Baby's productions of The Nosemaker's Apprentice and The Colonists. And, big surprise, I know, they are great.

To review: Terrible Baby = Nick Jones, Rachel Shukert, Peter Cook. Nick Jones = evil puppet genius rockstar behind Jollyship the Whiz-Bang. Rachel & Peter = new to me, but also apparently equally awesome crazy theatre people. From the company's mission: "Terrible Baby is committed to being better than other theater companies and attracting as much press attention as possible." Fantastic.

So, The Nosemaker's Apprentice and The Colonists are Terrible Baby's inaugural productions. I house managed/watched the first performance of Nosemaker on Wednesday, and then came back Sunday to do the same for two showings of The Colonists. Rawr.

I'll start with The Colonists because it's fresher in my mind and easier to write about. It's a 45-minute dialogueless puppet show that's advertised as being about bees but is not entirely. It's very kid-friendly, though as the 7pm show was all grownups, it was introduced with, "Motherfuckin puppet show, bitches!" which is apparently something that someone Nick Jones knows has tattoed on themselves in Thai. I would volunteer to be the second person for that.

It's a really wonderful show, with the magical surprise feeling of good puppetry - lots of intense artism in the puppets and set - and the left-field head-cocking genius that made for some of Jollyship's best comedy. (There are some projected titles and narration, and they are often hilarious.) Surpisingly high-drama story, too.

The Nosemaker's Apprentice is an actual with-actors and -words play, in the vein of Terrible Baby's mission statement's "
elaborate sophisticated comedy with subversive and quasi-historical inclinations." Okay, maybe we're working on an obscure definition of "sophisticated" here... But it's definitely not straightforward, so, sure, sophisticated in that sense. The play follows Gavin, a young apprentice Nosemaker, Odessey-like through medieval Europe on his quest to be the best Nosemaker in Europe, and then on the inevitable slide such hubris heralds. (This play, I should note, is written by Nick and Rachel, directed by Peter.) At first it seems like any no-budget self-produced whatever thing that you've seen a thousand times before in some East Village basement theatre with no AC but lots of beer, but the folks behind the play and on stage are way better than that, and so is the play. (The Brick also doesn't sell beer.) The writing goes there in surprising, sometimes daringly funny ways, and the cast is full of transformative comedic geniuses. Corey Sullivan and Rightor Doyle especially had me making some embarrassing sounds that I think were supposed to be laughter.

I know I'm somewhat biased because I'm somewhat involved, but, well, that's how it goes. I'm probably more biased by all the brainwashing Jollyship did on me last summer. Still haven't recovered from that. Maybe never will.

The Nosemaker's Apprentice and The Colonists play through May 24th at The Brick Theater, mere steps from the L (and G, I suppose) at Lorimer. If you want to see the show(s) for free, we're still looking for some ushers, so drop me a line. Motherfuckin puppet show, bitches!

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