The Neo-Futurists are something of an enigma in an increasingly conservative age: a vocally political, openly experimental theater company that still sells out every weekend and has been doing so virtually from the moment their show, Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, first opened in December 1988. No other group in town takes ideas and performance styles from so many sources—performance art, poetry slams, TV commercials, avant-garde theater, stand-up comedy, the funny papers. No other group combines those influences into 30 sketches and then promises to deliver them all in an hour. And no other group allows the audience to determine the show’s running order as it’s being performed (audience members shout out the number of the sketch they want to see next, selected from a menu handed out at the beginning). The result is a wildly spontaneous show, cutting-edge theater presented in the revved-up manner of a game show. Even more remarkable is the fact that success has made the Neo-Futurists more willing to experiment, not less. In a recent show, the whole audience was invited to leave the theater and play the part of the crowd in a sketch performed out in the street. I dare you to name another theater in town with both the guts and the audience to pull off a bit like that. At Live Bait Theater, open run (3914 N. Clark, 275-5255). Fridays and Saturdays, 11:30 PM. $2 “plus the roll of a single six-sided die” ($3-$8).

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/J. Alexander Newberry.