387 in 365.
That’s what the 2013 Archive Binder looked like at the start of this past year–empty and full of anticipation for the art that would gradually begin to fill it. After 48 weeks of rehearsals and performances and cuts and desperate Mondays and Tuesdays of writing, the ensemble managed to add 387 new plays to this binder and perform those plays for hundreds of people.
This weekend and next weekend we celebrate our anniversary with menus that feature the best of those 387 plays, being performed by a dangerously large cast (15 Neos this weekend, which is the largest we’ve seen an anniversary week cast in the past 10 years). These will also be, sad to say, your last opportunities to catch Megan Mercier, John Pierson, and Phil Ridarelli in the show for some time–Phil will be on a sabbatical and John and Megan are moving away from Chicago to be witty and charming and talented in other cities entirely. SO YOU HAVE TO COME SEE THESE SHOWS, PEOPLE.
The Best-Of shows are an opportunity for us and our fans to celebrate more than just the plays for TML. Besides all of the work for our flagship show, this past year the Neos accomplished a whole hell of a lot of first’s and other amazing milestones:
- Our three newest ensemble members Lily, Dan, and Kirsten all began their very first runs in the home show.
- Longtime ensemble members Kurt and Megan helmed their first prime-time productions, Analog and The Miss Neo Pageant.
- Brenda Arellano spent most of the past year compiling and editing a brand-new Neo-Futurist Process Book, slated for release early next year.
- We inducted our first six Artistic Associates.
- We launched a new website.
- With the help of a legion of generous crowd-funding fans, the organizational skills of our MD Dan McArdle, and the architectural prowess of our board member Doug Snider, we transformed our State Park into a completely different space.
- We began selling advance tickets to all performances of TML, giving our audiences a new opportunity to come see our work without being worried that they won’t be able to make it inside.
- We hosted our first international guest artists–Bron Batten, James Batten, and Glen Walton–for their limited engagement of Bron’s Sweet Child of Mine.
- We garnered our first-ever Joseph Jefferson Recommendation.
- Our 25th Anniversary Neoccasion became our most successful fundraiser to date.
- We raised several thousand dollars at our annual Pride Shows to benefit UCAN’s Host Home program, which works to place homeless queer youth into loving foster family environments.
- The show, and the company, both turned 25 years old this past Monday, December 2, and we celebrated by returning to the scene of the crime–the original Stage Left space, now the home of Chicago Comics–to perform a very special TML, featuring 21 performers and 30 plays from the very first show to the show that had taken place the night before.
- TML’s home show saw several delightful and surprising appearances from outside guest artists, including Anthony Courser, Bron Batten, Tim Baltz, and Constantine Arellano.
- Neo-Futurist ensemble, alumni, and associates remounted the 2011 holiday classic Burning Bluebeard at Theater Wit, under an exciting new enterprise called The Ruffians.
- We welcomed into a the fold a new sister ensemble, the San Francisco Neo-Futurists, thereby making Neo-Futurism a coast-to-coast aesthetic.
- Neo alumnus Joe Dempsey appeared on urban bus kiosks in several cities and football game breaks to tell us all about a Microsoft product. (We had nothing to do with this. We just like Joe Dempsey a lot.)
Tons of fun, Neo-Futuristas. Come see our last shows for the year and then join us next year for another empty binder.
– Bilal Dardai, Artistic Director (Ensemble since 2004)