Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind is our ongoing, everchanging attempt to perform 30 plays in 60 minutes. We do it every Friday and Saturday at the Boxcar Playhouse, 505 Natoma Street in San Francisco.
You can purchase tickets here.
But, you ask, what is Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind?
Glad you asked. Come sit by hearth and let us tell you a tale of intrigue and mystery, of non-illusory theater and “number jumping.”
What? No time for that? Alright, here’s our bullet point list.
Too Much Light / T.M.L.M.T.B.G.B. / Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind was created by Greg Allen as an ever-changing attempt to perform 30 plays in 60 minutes.
The first performance was Dec 2, 1988 at Chicago’s Stage Left Theater, and has been running ever since. T.M.L. has also been running in New York since 2003!
The last time T.M.L.M.T.B.G.B. was in the Bay was the 20th Century.
Here’s how it works:
Audiences (henceforth known as “you”) arrive early to the performance and are given a token, or toy, to signify that they have a guaranteed spot to the performance (you have to give it back, sorry). Upon entry to the theater you roll a six-sided die to determine the price. Tickets are $10 plus the roll. If you roll a 5, what do you pay?
. . .
. . . .
That’s right, $15!
Next, you enter the theater through a ritualized practice that we’ve concocted. It’s safe and doesn’t stain. That part doesn’t stain. Just remember to speak loudly. After said ritualized practice you are handed a menu. Other theaters, who subscribe to dated practices, might refer to it as a “program.”
The Menu contains a list of 30 play titles, and above the stage there is a clothesline with the numbers 1 – 30. Coincidence? No. It’s not. It’s planned. We also purposely put a dark room timer with 60 minutes inside up there somewhere, too. These things don’t just happen.
The performance will begin! You will be excited! You will be involved! At the start, we will turn on the dark room timer, which will tic-tic down to 0:00. In those 60 minutes we will attempt to perform all thirty of those plays you see there on your menu.
How do we choose the order? You might ask. Go ahead, say it out loud to your device’s screen. You can just mouth the words if you’re embarrassed.
Great question! And the answer is, YOU choose the order. At the beginning of every play we say the play’s title and GO, and when the play ends, we’ll say CURTAIN. At that point, you look to your menu, find a play title you like, find its number and shout that number as quickly and loudly as you can. We’ll repeat that.
1) We say, “The Play’s Title,” Go!
2) We do the play. This is the play. It is happening all around you.
3) The play is over and we say, “CURTAIN!”
4) You shout the number of the play you want to see next. For example, “6!”
This continues until we finish the plays, or until the timer runs out of time. The plays you see could be sad, funny, political, abstract, confusing, naked, extra-clothed, musical, or anything we want, really. We might come out and talk to you. We might even touch you. Gently.
We follow three rules when creating theater for you.
1) You are who you are.
We don’t pretend to be anyone we’re not. I’m me and you’re you.
2) You are where you are.
Let’s face it, we’re not going to spend the money to trick you into thinking we’re trapped in the belly of a whale, or the rock’em’sock’em gangster streets of old timey Chicago. No, we’re in a theater. In San Francisco. In California. In the U.S.A. In North America. In the northern hemisphere. On earth. In space.
3) You are doing what you’re doing.
We don’t like to lie about stuff, so we don’t. If we say, “Today I ate pb&j,” then you can rest assured that pb&j was consumed. If we pull out a bottle of whiskey and sip it, then yes, we are really drinking that whiskey and the performance is about to get a whole lot more interesting.
Once our time is up, if it’s a Friday or Saturday night, and we’ll bet you it is, we’ll hand one audience member a large six-sided die. Maybe it’ll be you. If it is, you’ll roll that die. We’ll take whatever you roll plus the roll from the other night, and remove that many plays from our menu to create brand new ones. That means each week we premiere between 2 and 12 new plays. We like to say, “If you’ve seen the show once, you’ve seen the show once.” It’s a pretty pragmatic approach.
So that’s it. That’s what you need to know about Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind. Or so you’d think. Want to know more? Head over here.
If you’ve gone this far, you should probably just make your way to the show and see it for yourself.