What happens when drunk video gamers try to direct a stage version of Hamlet? You’ll have about a minute to find out.
The Neo-Futurists have chosen gaming as the theme of both their “Neocade” fall fund-raiser—which combines theater, gaming, art, and beer—as well as this weekend’s performances of Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go GAME POSITIVE: 30 Digital Plays In 60 Analog Minutes. Shakespeare and Nintendo may not appear to be the most obvious bedfellows, but the hyperactive 30-plays-in-60-minutes show manages to resemble video games in spirit.
“A lot of our show and our aesthetic is audience participation and there’s a way in which there’s a game always going on between us and the crowd, so this is an easy place for us to go,” said Bilal Dardai, one of the Neo-Futurist ensemble members overseeing the show.
Haven’t brushed up on your PlayStation skills or don’t know Super Mario from Mario Batali? It’s OK. This is a performance meant to cater to more than stereotypical hardcore gamers.
“We’re not looking to becoming a video game theater company, but it’s part of who we are as an ensemble—a lot of our lives have been shaped by this element of gaming and technology,” said Dardai. “So this is more about our shared cultural dialogue. Even if you haven’t played a game in ten or 20 years, you remember what you liked about it and this taps into those feelings.”
Some of the short plays will provide lighthearted takes on idiosyncratic gaming behavior. One of Dardai’s contributions is the climax of Hamlet, directed by a pair of drunk video gamers—it’s based on a real-life experience in which Dardai watched guys play Xbox in his apartment.
On the more serious side, some of the 30 plays deal with the cultural conversation surrounding gaming culture, including at least one performance revolving around last summer’s Gamergate controversy. It’s written by a female gaming enthusiast who experienced online harassment last year.
The Neo-Futurists will be previewing half of the show during NeoCade on Thursday. They’ve partnered with Video Game Art Gallery, which will be displaying prints from the world of indie gaming, and Bit Bash, which is bringing ten local games to be played by audience members. There will also be pizza from Dimo’s, craft brews from Arcade Brewery, and a “Hadouken” cocktail from CH Distillery.
Of course, the question remains: Will too many video games make the baby go blind?
The Neocade, Thurs, 7 PM, $40; Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go GAME POSITIVE: 30 Digital Plays in 60 Analog Minutes, Fri, Sat, 7 PM, The Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland.