Thursday, April 17, 2008

call & response - jan 15 & 16 2008

Since August we’d thought of nothing else. The MCA called, could we read there? This was it—finally we no longer were just kids doing skits in our parents’ basements; we had burst onto the Chicago literary scene; we were recognized and lauded and wanted. In our heads we imagined the cover of the Reader, no, of Chicago Magazine: Rec Room, the New Chicago Style. Or some other equally silly and self-aggrandizing headline. For months we went over set lists, read sample pieces over pizza in Lincoln Square, furiously g-chatted about the theme and format of our two-night show, something we’d never attempted before. After months of planning and anticipating, of arguing then agreeing over time limits, setting and extending and resetting deadlines, after months of revisions and fashion montages, the New Year arrived; we had a show.

January 15 @ MCA Literary Gangs
Della (all the way from San Fran!) and Erin started us off with a spoken collaborative chapbook, calling on each other for inspiration and confirmation. Fred Sasaki and Jacob S. Knabb followed with a radio skit about the new life we’ve all wanted to purchase at one point or another. Meg Barboza then reminded us why she’s the smartest woman we know when she read poems that kept growing long after having been read. Idris Goodwin, Rec Room’s oldest friend (from the very first show in 2004!) once again proved that he deserves the nickname Best of with his call to his generation. After Idris we were treated to best damn jug band I ever did hear. Ernest Legg and Brother Beaker led us through a square dance, calling out turns while Dave Snyder played the jug in the background. C.T. Ballentine then read a story about a junk man who just can’t win a junk lady with a series of ill-thought phone messages. And oh my did Sunny Byers make us laugh with her comic gold involving telecommunications, puking, construction, and of course, farts. Miki Howald sobered up long enough to read a sobering essay about the in-between, and Toni Asante Lightfoot wrapped the night up in that way only she can: with love, warmth, and a beautiful reading of poems.

January 16 @ Black Rock
OK, then we reconvened the following night at our normal location, and this is embarrassing, but few of us actually thought beyond the first night despite our months of planning. So anyway… Fred started us off—with the help of Dave Snyder (hey Dave, when are you going to come back on stage with your own stuff? We miss you!)—with a conversation about reciprocation. You know what we mean. Meg, again with the poetry and awesome word play and all those things she does so well. Then C.T. came up and gave us a different perspective on Sunny’s story from the night before—the serial killer’s perspective. Thanks Dexter @ Comcast. Sunny followed him with a kick-ass account (no, seriously, there was a lot of blood. Oooooh, blood. Shut up, Dexter) of a trip across the pond. Idris read some shit that he said was no good but of course was good, even though we came away from it with the only the word cock in our heads. Miki didn’t bother to think ahead, so she did a mad-lib with the audience. The same audience who came away from Idris’s performance with the word cock stuck in their heads. Della then read poems about New Zealand, a very serious and sincere subject which incited no big laughs, which was good, because the poems weren’t supposed to be funny. And lovely Nicolette ended the evening by asking us all to dance, or to couples’ skate, as the sweet strains of Precious Moments swelled in the background.

p.s. Chicago Magazine did call, but not putting Rec Room on the cover clearly was an editorial oversight.


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