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The Dartmouth
February 23, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Interactive show features 30 short scenes

Sparse blue chairs, one table and a door sat on the bare set. Neon programs on chairs near the front of the Hopkins Center’s Bentley Theater warned, “This is an interactive seat.”

From the name tags handed to audience members as they filed into the production — “Hello my name is ...” Inigo Montoya, Robocop or Pikachu — to the final dim of the lights, the Displaced Theater Company’s “Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind” lived up to the warning on the programs.

Strange and ridiculous, outrageous, sad and funny, the Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon shows included 30 original, short scenes performed within an hour.

“Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind” was originally produced by the Neo-Futurists, a Chicago acting ensemble. The show, the longest-running show in the city, has continued to be performed since its premiere in 1988. The show premiered on campus for one evening last winter, including 30 different scenes but a different company of actors.

On Saturday night, the first scene, number two, was titled “F***ing ’18s,” about freshman misuse of Dartmouth vernacular. Outfitted in plain clothes, the cast jumped between roles throughout the evening.

The audience chose the order of the scenes and acted, too. Cajoled or physically dragged out of their seats, audience members played critical roles in scene 17, “Drinking Game,” and scene nine, “The Proposal.”

Though timid at first, the audience warmed up to being included.

In “Drinking Game,” audience members joined two teams racing to drink juice boxes in a line. In “The Proposal,” audience members served as potential fiancés for two cast members, though as the proposals became more competitive, the cast members choose to marry each other instead.

The structure and content changed with each performance based on audience requests and participation. Rebecca Liu ’17, who attended the Saturday evening show, said she liked the show’s interactive components.

“This is my first time at this kind of thing,” she said, “but I really enjoyed it.”

Audience favorites on Saturday evening included the more comedic scenes, especially scenes three, “Aggressive Dad,” five, “Suicide Letter from Moist,” and 18, “Parental Control,” which together received the loudest laughs of the night.

“Aggressive Dad” depicted the king of “dad jokes” having a heated conversation with his son in a car, “Suicide Letter from Moist” imagined the word “moist” personified and what conflicts this character would face in modern society and “Parental Control” showed two frustrated and finicky parents choosing a potential lover for their daughter, an audience member.

Most scenes were humorous, though a few had a more serious tone. Natalia Drozdoff ’17, who attended the show, said she enjoyed the variety and admired the company’s creativity.

Sharidan Russell ’18 said that although she hadn’t originally planned to attend Saturday night’s performance, she was glad that she did.

“It was fun seeing the students organize something and actually coming through,” she said.

Company members spent a week writing and rehearsing the scenes, co-director Naomi Lazar ’17 said. The group did not host any additional casting calls or auditions to participate, though it did email an open invitation to campus asking for writers and actors for the show.

Angela Liu ’17, a member of Displaced Theater Company, said she simply “showed up” to a planning meeting for the show and began to participate.

“I loved how anyone could join,” she said.

Lazar said the company hopes to bring back the show next year as well.

“I’m really excited that we’re having two performances this year,” Lazar said. “You can see the exact same scenes on a different night... and it will be a different show. You will have a different experience.”