By Sarah Smith
Viva Loudoun High School Intern
(Jan. 16, 2014) – This winter, Stone Bridge High School’s Running Dog Productions is bringing a short, comedy-filled one act to the stage, immersing audience members in a uniquely formatted play, “Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind.”
“I chose this play because it’s very hard to find a funny, short play,” director Glen Hochkeppel said. “The writers of this play come out of Chicago, which is kind of like the comedy capital of the country. It’s known for being very clever and sophisticated. This one act is filled with very appropriate humor and it’s really, really clever. I love the special format of this; it’s set up like a game where the audience can suggest which skit the cast performs. It’s very original.”
“Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind,” was written by a group known as the Neo-Futurists. They are one of the most highly acclaimed experimental theater companies. They draw upon Dada, an avant-garde movement, surrealism, and the work of the original Italian Futurists. Futurism is an artistic movement that focuses on themes regarding the future.
This play was originally directed by Greg Allen in Chicago in 1988. It was billed as “an ever-changing attempt to perform 30 Plays in 60 Minutes.” It is the longest running show in the city of Chicago. Every performance, the actors perform different sets of skits, interact with the audience, and aim to create a sophisticated comedic performance.
“It’s basically scripted improv,” senior Sierra Carlson said. “Everything is so casual, but it’s very different and unique and that’s what makes this show so fun to watch and perform.”
A one act is what it sounds like: a play with only one act as opposed to several. However, this does not limit the amount of scenes. Each of the cast members was responsible for two to three skits, as well as “scripted improv” in the audience.
This show took the stage on January 16 and 17, bringing something unlike the usual productions that the Running Dogs perform.
“I really liked interacting with the audience,” senior Kevin Buckley said. “Everything has a sense of randomness to it. Every night we perform a different show. I really love that the audience has so much of a say in it.”
The show didn’t stop when the curtains closed on the Stone Bridge stage; it is the piece the Running Dogs brought to the VHSL district theater competition on January 18.
Competitions for the one acts are set up like all other VHSL competitions. They are broken into district, regional, and state rounds. To move forward, plays must place either first or second. The shows are judged on performance, especially the technical aspects of acting, like how well actors project and how clearly they say their lines. They also judge deeper aspects of the performance like the realism behind their performances, how much the show resembles the creation of the writer, and how well the stage pictures create a visual.
“This was my first one act competition so I was really looking forward to the experience of competing there,” sophomore Gabriella said. “I really enjoyed the improvisational parts with the audience.”
For the cast, the competitions provide not only an opportunity to receive constructive criticism, but an opportunity to watch and learn from other school’s performances, and improve their department.
“I really love the spirit of competition,” Buckley said. “It’s really great getting to make friends from other theater departments and see all of the different shows. It’s a really great experience.”
Sarah Smith is a junior at Stone Bridge High School