Theater Oobleck

In Theater Oobleck's recent play Antistasia a Russian peasant rushes in from the fields in the midst of the 1917 insurrection, and breathlessly announces that a White Russian Army general is approaching from a hill in the distance.
"How do you know it's a White Russian?" asks one of the other villagers. "Intuition," she replies.

A minute later, an imposing figure (played by an actor calling himself Dave Barnstraw, who is also author of this drama) saunters onstage, face and hair painted white, white shag carpeting draped over his torso, white boots on his feet. (He couldn't be any whiter. He is as white as the other character played by Mr. Barnstraw - Rasputin - is black.)
After trying to drum up support for an assault on the revolutionaries, this White Russian general stops for a moment, and glibly asks, "Can someone get me one of those vodka drinks...with some coffee liqueur and a little cream in it?"
A White Russian.

With Antistasia, Theater Oobleck dishes up the irreverant, gender-bending, slapstick comedy that has delighted audiences for a decade or so, managing somehow to maintain creative integrity without selling out.
This is theater with a strong anarchistic bent. As the back of the program proclaims in a Bloated Statement: "No Director! Managing Director, no Artistic Director, no Technical Director, no Musical Director, no production directors....The fact is that the Director is a newcomer to the theater, and he/she (usually he) has served his purpose!...Here's a quote from an article someone gave me years ago:

'Putting the burden of innovation on the director is like putting the prime minister in charge of the revolution, for the director, insofar as he remains a director, cannot help but defend that kind of theater in which he has a place of importance, suppressing those ancient models of the theater which do not require his services.'"

Another scene in Antistasia: a fortune-seeker named Tevia (played with the exemplary and forward-looking visionary backwardness we've come to expect from the multifaceted genius of David Isaacson) escorts Anistasia to the countryside on a passenger train. Tevia has convinced Anistasia, daughter of Czar Nicholas and Czarina Alexandra, that she is actually Antistasia, daughter of a peasant woman who has offered a pig and a cow to whoever can find her long-lost child. On this train ride, Tevia coaches Antistasia on how to act "peasant."
News of the insurrection that sweeps Czar Nicholas II out of power rushes through the train. On one side, a Bolshevik proclaims the workers' victory and declares the dictatorship of the proletariat; on the other, anarchist Petr Kropotkin passes out handbills to the audience, announcing the Social Revolution: "Inspired by a new daring - born of the feeling of solidarity - all will march together to the conquest of the highest joys of knowledge and artistic creation...."
The contrast in principles of the Bolsheviks and the anarchists who propelled the Revolution is evident. (At this point it might have been appropriate to foreshadow the treatment meted out by the cynical, authoritarian Bolsheviks to anarchists and other dissident revolutionaries - maybe a club to the head?)

-David Meyers

Note for July 1999 >> Theater Oobleck is again presenting their hit show from Fall '98, Necessity, Danny Thompson's bloody and historically inaccurate biography of Thomas Edison.. It will play at Theater on the Lake in July 1999. Check Oobleck's website, for place and times. $7; free if you're broke. Call 773.252.3154.

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