Tickets: Studio Players Play at Carriage House
Studio Players wraps up its first full season since 2018-19 with a show that sounds a lot like Kentucky Weather: If you don’t like the play, wait two minutes. It will change.
“Too Much Light Makes the Baby Blind” is a collection of 30 plays clocked in roughly the same time it takes to lead a Kentucky Derby, which a 15-actor ensemble aims to perform in 60 minutes. There will be a clock next to the stage, counting down the hour.
Sound like a challenge? There is more.
The plays are played randomly, chosen by the audience, so the actors never know what’s coming next. Increasing the degree of difficulty, these are sets that the actors must set up for each show which, again, will be announced at random. So, even more than usual in live theatre, it will be a different show every night.
“It’s like an improv show that you rehearse,” said Sharon Sikorski, a veteran Studio Players actor who is part of the cast.
Studio newcomer Sonia Scorsone said, “It’s a growth experience for an actor. It allows you to concentrate.
The show was dreamed up by playwright Greg Allen when he was a founding member of the Neo-Futurists, a Chicago-based experimental theater troupe. “Too Much Light” is the longest-running show in Chicago theater history, having opened in 1988. During the pandemic, it went live as “Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Zoom “. There was also a long-running New York edition from 2004 to 2016.
“It’s fun,” said director Steve Meadows, who helmed the show when he was a theater principal at Danville High School, from which he retired three years ago. “It was one of the last shows I did. And it was so much fun. It was a really good activity to do with kids.”
There are more than 30 plays available for the show, and Meadows says 18-20 are the same shows he did with Danville, but some plays are more appropriate for adults than students.
The plays represent a wide range of content from absurd physical comedy to literary satires like Mr. Science explaining the plot of Shakespeare’s “Othello” to genuinely moving and thought-provoking monologues.
When the audience enters, they will see a stretched line on the stage with thirty pieces of paper numbered 1 to 30 hanging from clothespins. Folded into the sheets of paper are the names of the shows. After a play ends with the statement “Curtain”, the actors come out and ask the audience for a number. When a number is chosen, one of the actors will grab the paper, read the name of the play, and that play will be performed.
Actors cannot outsmart the system by memorizing play numbers because play numbers and titles will be reshuffled with each performance.
“My favorite show in the group of 30 is called ‘Déjà vu’,” Meadows said. “‘Déjà Vu’ is really fun because you never know what’s going to happen, and basically what happens is that when this one is called, whatever just happened happens again.”
The first night the cast rehearsed with a random selection, “Déjà vu” was the penultimate selection prompting a replay of “The Story of Hand In Glove,” which has one of the most intricate arrangements ever. series, so the cast that just took it apart had to put it back together.
Studio has performed with short forms of theater in the past, including its 10-Minute Summer Play Festival. But “Too Much Light…” is a bit of a stretch for community theater whose bread-and-butter offerings are things like Agatha Christie murder mysteries, comedies like “Greater Tuna,” and 20th-century masters such than Neil Simon. But Studio has been working on a few more cutting-edge contemporary works in recent seasons, and longtime Studio executive and producer Gary McCormick says this show will continue that trend.
“They have two minutes to make you cry, or make you laugh, or say, ‘I don’t like it,’ or whatever,” McCormick said. “I think people who come to a regular show here are going to be surprised. But once they get used to screaming to be a part of it, they’ll appreciate it.
Rich Copley is a former arts writer and editor of the Herald-Leader who continues to enjoy the arts and culture of Lexington.
“Too much light makes the baby blind”
What: Production by Studio Players of the popular Greg Allen show of 30 plays in 60 minutes
When: 8:12-14, 20-21, 27-28 May; 2:30 p.m. on May 15, 22 and 29.
Or: Carriage House Theater, 154 W. Bell Ct.
Tickets: $21 adults, $11 students
In line: studioplayers.org