Outside the Box; deadline difficulty and the idea of influence.

Real talk? Writing new plays every week gets hard.

Yes, we all join the company knowing that we will be required to write new plays on a weekly basis. There are times when we find ourselves six weeks into a nine week run. And the plays we have in the show are balanced and satisfying. And every play we write feels like all the other plays we wrote.

We are staring at a white screen, counting the seconds, measured by a blinking cursor.

Did you know that people still make books? That the world of independent publishing, while shrinking, still exists?
Imagine a large elephant holding a flower tight in its trunk, leaning in to hear the tiny call for help from a spec of nothing balanced on a petal.Perhaps I’m being dramatic. But there is some truth in that imagery.

Just last weekend, a group of independent and DIY publishers from around the country gathered at 1104 S. Wabash to sit at tables and sell their wares.This year, like last, I sat at a table with friend and collaborator, Ashley Elander.We are both from Michigan and met a few years back when we both worked at a popular coffee shop in Edgewater. After seeing Too Much Light for the first time, Ashley mentioned that I should send her some of my plays. She wanted to turn them into comics.

Working with Ashley inspired me to reach out to other illustrators to turn more of my written work and plays into small zines that could be put on a book shelf. To step out of an artistic comfort zone and see how the plays we create for Too Much Light translate to other mediums.
So, it’s not surprising that Ashley’s ability to inspire me would show up at a rehearsal for TML.

This week’s show will feature a staged adaptation of her comic This Is The Worst. So, I felt it only fair to introduce her to all of you and find out what she thought about her work becoming a piece of performance.

TH: Who is Boxhead? 
AE: Boxhead is the feeling you get when nothing in the world is going your way.  The uncontrollable circumstances where you can do nothing but say, “this is the worst.”
TH: What do you think about having one of  your comics turned into a two-minute play?
AE: I like it a lot!  Play-writing is so not my thing and it’s great that other people want to share the idea in their own way.  Plus, I’m 100% for everything Neos do.
TH: Here’s the situation; you have decided that you no longer can take city living. You pack all of your belongings and have only 48 hours before you leave for someplace more remote. How do you spend that last 48 hours?
AE: This is a hard question because the life of an illustrator is already pretty remote, i.e. lots of drawing alone.  However, I’d probably hit up a few favorite spots before I go, like breakfast at Lula, soak up the ambiance of Quimby’s bookstore, go on a gallery crawl, ride my bike around downtown.

You can find Ashley’s work at Galerie F in Logan Square, Quimby’s in Wicker Park and on chalk boards around the city. Soon, you will be able to see some of her illustrations in the newest book released by the theater. And, for a short time, on stage at The Neo-Futurarium.

Remember when I said writing new plays every week is hard?
That’s still true.

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Showtimes for Too Much Light:

  • 11:30pm on Fridays
  • 11:30pm on Saturdays
  • 7:00pm on Sundays
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