‘Too Much Light’ combines humor, social commentary

by Nalini Ramanathan | 1/31/16 7:00pm

Actors in "Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind" perform in the Bentley.
by Paula Mendoza / The Dartmouth

This past Saturday and Sunday, Dartmouth’s Displaced Theater Company performed “Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind,” a set of 30 short skits written and performed in 60 minutes by its cast.

Amber Porter ’14 started the show in Winter 2014. Ariel Klein ’17 began producing the show after Porter graduated, first co-producing with Naomi Lazar ’17 in Fall 2014 and was the sole producer for both the Fall 2015 production and this term’s show. This term’s company included 15 students from all four class years. The cast members had around three weeks to write their skits, memorize their lines and learn stage directions before performing.

Based off of a show by the experimental theater group The Neo-Futurists also titled “Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind,” the skits include audience participation. When audience members entered the theater, the cast members immediately asked their names and then gave them name tags with labels such as “#notcool” or “Adele.” Audience members also chose the order that the skits were performed in, yelling out numbers that corresponded to the titles of skits listed in the program.

Some of the skits were solo performances, such as “#SWUGlife” in which Lucas Bezerra ’16 talked about the benefits of living as a “Senior Washed Up Girl or Guy.” Others, however, included the entire cast, including “Flitzkrieg,” where the cast threw paper planes at the audience while repeatedly yelling, “This is a flitz!”

Several other skits also included audience participation, including “Blloons,” during which audience members competed in a Hunger Games-style balloon-popping game and “Life of a Salesman,” in which Nate Grice ’16 attempted to sell an audience member to another audience member in the crowd, the latter of whom quipped, “Is it like a Tesla?”

However, some of the skits were much more serious. “Masks” referenced the Student Assembly’s new push for mental health awareness through “Sticker Day,” at which students filled

out stickers that say, “I hide my ____ behind my ___ .” In the show, the cast members completed this phrase, revealing their own issues to the audience while miming the action of taking one’s mask off.

Other skits were monologues by cast members. In “Moments,” Sadhana Puri ’18, Dan Fishbein ’19 and Bezerra discussed specific moments in their lives, ranging from Fishbein’s discussion of his love for NFL player Tom Brady to Bezerra’s tale of a joke gone wrong at the expense of his high school music teacher to Puri’s recollections of being in Las Vegas as a seven-year-old.

Klein stated that the variety of skits is one of her favorite parts of the show, as the cast can “speak about anything.”

She said that her favorite skit in her experience as producer was one from this past fall about the end to need-blind admission for international students at Dartmouth. Since she felt there was no other place for it to be discussed on campus, she found it valuable that Jose Burnes ’17 and Bezerra were able to speak on the issue within the context of the show.

A cast favorite and the finale of Saturday’s show, the skit “Welcome to Trips,” provided a similar commentary. Starring Alex Petros ’19 dressed in Dartmouth flair, acting as a member of Dartmouth Outing Club’s First-Year Trips’ H-Croo, the skit provided criticism of some parts of Dartmouth and Trips culture. Petros’s character said, “I’m cool and relatable but also better than you,” and invited an audience member to join the fictional a capella group the Dartmouth Winds, snidely noting that they would probably not get in anyway. At the end of the piece, he had audience members dance to “Everytime We Touch” by Cascada in traditional Trips fashion.

Regina Yan ’19, another member of the cast, said the skit is one of her favorites, noting Petros “puts over 100 percent into his skit.”

Petros noted that it was also one of his favorites, saying that the skit presents a lot of the “pressures that [Trips] hides.”

Many audience members enjoyed the show. Gwendolyn Howard ’19 said that she “loved the show,” and named “Flitzkreig,” “Welcome to Trips!” and “Blloons” as her favorites.

Clara Bezerra, a Boston University student and sister to the show’s Bezerra, found seeing her brother in a more improvisational environment interesting. Her favorite skit was “Dad Wars,” in which Bezerra and Grice battle using dad jokes in an attempt to win the title of “the best dad ever.”

One of the most surprising elements of the show given its success is that the actors do not have to audition. This is one of the characteristics of the show that many cast members found rewarding about the group.

Petros said that he found the cast to be “one of the most welcoming groups on campus.”

Yan, who had never performed onstage in front of a crowd before, said she found the experience “eye opening.” She said that she is particularly grateful for her new “theater family.”

Burnes said that this “very open” environment is one of the reasons he joined the production. He said that he finds his fellow castmates very “talented” and is grateful for the opportunity to work with them.

“Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind” was performed in the Bentley Theater on Saturday night and Sunday evening.

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