New Paradise Laboratories
$15 – $29
The Proscenium Theatre at the DrakeMap
“A blackout can be funny, infuriating, or frightening. It’s the moment when you realize, again, that you can’t know what’s waiting for you just around the bend.” Whit MacLaughlin of New Paradise Laboratories
“Dazzling! Nothing less than a theatrical meditation on the mysterious and dangerous universe human beings inhabit.” The Philadelphia Inquirer
New Paradise Laboratories provides a fresh take on the creation myth, infusing it with playful nonsense in an impossible setting—before, during and after the Big Bang. A horror-farce with philosophical overtones, Hello Blackout! follows the eccentric Kissimmees—triplets, their mother, an elusive father—at the beginning of time. Blackouts engulf the family as they slam into the inexplicable future—with grim and hilarious results.
The Kissimmee’s journey acts as a pageant for the new American era, presenting a world where everything is unprecedented, and where we must learn to live happily with the unpredictability of the universe. Hello Blackout! is choreographed to a mind-bending musical score by composer Bhob Rainey and played by a live quintet of virtuosic musicians.
$29 general / $20.30 member (Click here to join and save 30% on tickets to all shows!)
$15 student + 25-and-under
Festival Co-Producers Richard & Peggy Greenawalt
Special Screenings of O Monsters
WTF (Welcome: The Future!) Sessions
About New Paradise Laboratories
New Paradise Laboratories (NPL) is an experimental performance ensemble that explores radical means of expression to bend and reshape conventional ideas of theater. The company looks at theater as visionary experience, using a variety of creative strategies including company-devising techniques, cross-media design elements, and site-specific installation. Their work values sudden inspiration, paradigm shifts, and shocks to the system. The collaborative environment of NPL’s working process influences the content of their shows. The company supports an artist-as-entrepreneur model in its organizational structure and tend to be multidisciplinary in their interests: designers, writers, and producers, as well as actors.
Interview with Whit MacLaughlin
Abridged, check back at FringeArts Blog this summer for the full interview.
FringeArts: How did the title Hello Blackout! come into being?
Whit MacLaughlin: “Blackout” has many meanings, political and otherwise: It’s what a government imposes when it doesn’t want the press to reveal a piece of news. It’s what you do to a window when you want to remain undetected by bombers flying overhead. It’s something that happens when you drink too much or when you faint. It happens in theater to punctuate the end of a scene or play. We have concocted another meaning. It’s what happens when a gust of wind blows out the candle you’re carrying, or when the batteries run out in your flashlight; suddenly, you can’t find your way. A blackout can be funny, infuriating, or frightening. It signifies that moment when you realize, again, that you can’t know what’s waiting for you in the future. Which is pretty much always.
We’ve been studying ways that we try to tell the future: oracles, probability, fortune-tellers, astrology, intuition, algorithms. The fact is, there really isn’t a way to predict what’s to come with any certainty. This truth has really presented itself to us in a forceful way, recently, in our political life. We see the word “unprecedented” all the time to describe our situation. The question: Is anything truly unprecedented or is everything? We want to make the case that everything is. Like that old zen saying: you can’t put your hand into the same river twice. We have no choice but to get better at wrestling with unpredictability. And, possibly, enjoying it. This is at the heart of everything we do at NPL.
FringeArts: What brings NPL back to the Kissimmee family and their adventures in the universe?
Whit MacLaughlin: O Monsters was where the Kissimmee family first presented itself to us: a set of triplets, their carnivorous mother, and a father who vanished mysteriously some time ago. We thought it might be fun to figure out where they came from, this family of not-quite-human beings.
O Monsters took place in a weird version of the present. Hello Blackout! happens in the distant past – actually, before the Big Bang. What a fun question: what was family life like before anything existed? Of course, there’s no answer—it’s like using nonsense to start a story. But that’s what creation myths do: they start with “in the beginning there was not-even-nothing.” It’s an unanswerable riddle. But we’ve challenged ourselves to imagine an answer. Imagining things that happened before there was anything requires us truly to empty our minds.
FringeArts: What is appealing to you about the horror-farce aesthetic of the work?
Whit MacLaughlin: We’re currently living through a historic moment that reeks of horror-farce. I mean we couldn’t make a tragi-farce, no one would want to see that. It’s not that unusual, really. The Living Dead films have a lot of it but we don’t want to compete on that territory. Nutso-philosophy might be another genre description. Doesn’t mean there won’t be moments of extreme beauty.