Rush Pearson in Diary of a Madman, playing Friday
Rush Pearson in Diary of a Madman, playing Friday Credit: Johnny Knight

Abbie Hoffman was a joker. Fervently antiauthoritarian, he was famous for pulling stunts like running a pig for president, trying to levitate the Pentagon, and throwing money at traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. He was dead serious about revolution, though. The system “is archaic, it’s immoral and it’s brutal and it has to be overthrown. It’s that simple,” he said in a jailhouse interview, taken in Chicago while he and six other peace activists—the Conspiracy Seven—were on trial, charged with instigating a riot at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. “Besides, it would make a good movie.”

In commemoration of both Hoffman and the 43rd anniversary of the Woodstock festival, Mary-Arrchie Theatre Company is presenting the Abbie Hoffman Died for Our Sins Theatre Festival—an annual event featuring over 50 hours of near-continuous theater from dozens of troupes and individual artists. The fest starts with a march from Daley Plaza (Fri 2 PM) to the theater five miles away. Artistic director Richard Cotovsky, playing Hoffman, then presides over the opening ceremonies (7 PM).

Among the anticipated highlights: 12 Jackets by Curious Theatre Branch member Matt Rieger (Fri 7:30 PM); Rush Pearson’s solo stage adaptation of the Nikolai Gogol story Diary of a Madman (Fri 8 PM); Mary-Arrchie’s own Gas Mask 101 (Fri 10:20 PM and Sun 11:30 PM); two pieces—The Opening and Reading Habits of the Drowned Novelist—by longtime Neo-Futurists ensemble member Bilal Dardai (Sat 9 AM and Sun 3:30 PM); a performance by satiric rock band Lola Balatro (Sat 8:30 PM); Anonymously Yours, a selection of anonymous comments from the Internet, curated by Jennifer Olson (Sun 1:40 AM); and readings from Hoffman’s 1987 book Steal This Urine Test: Fighting Drug Hysteria in America (Sun noon).

In the end, the best summation this marathon comes from Hoffman himself. Fun, he commented during his trial, is “actually becoming quite subversive.”