created by Max Reichlin | directed by Ellie McKay
written by Scot Augustson (1001), Elizabeth Heffron (Foxy Populi), Bret Fetzer & Juliet Waller Pruzan (ElectriCity)
Feb 8-March 8, 2008

To keep spirits high after a world-changing catastrophe, a small group of hardy survivors have put together a theatre troupe to entertain their community. This evening of three new plays is presented using only the electricity created by two human-powered generators operated by the actors.

Each of the three scripts in Keep the Light On takes a different approach toward entertainment in a disastrously changed world, offering a variety of ways “to remember, and to forget”:

  • 1001 by Scot Augustson celebrates the act of storytelling as a young delivery boy falls into the path of danger and has to talk his way out of it. Tales fold in on each other like origami, featuring sudden kisses, pearl-handled revolvers, dust on the ceiling of a Thai hotel, and a Mexican widow with a Castilian lisp.
  • Foxy Populi by Elizabeth Heffron is a wild musical that looks back to the extravagent days before the apocalypse when we all had iPods, SUVs, and stock options.
  • ElectriCity by Bret Fetzer and Juliet Waller Pruzan takes us on a journey with a mother and her daughter as they visit the last amusement park on earth.
ORIGINS

Keep the Light On began as an experiment in human-powered lighting. The show’s creator, Max Reichlin, wanted to discover what could be done on stage when all electricity is provided by actors pedaling custom-made generators.

“It turns out that it’s tricky – people don’t make much power,” Max said. “So the show would look different from a traditional play in terms of the lighting.”

This line of thinking led Max to a conclusion about the content of the show:

“I thought ‘When would people actually use people to power a theatre?’ I’ve always enjoyed apocalyptic literature and I realized that in a post-apocalyptic world, with no electricity, somebody just might perform theatre this way. So that’s why the evening is composed of three plays presented by an imaginary, post-apocalyptic, theatre company.”

OFF THE GRID

Keep the Light On will provide a total-immersion experience in the world of the future, according to director Ellie McKay:

“Our dream is to take Annex Theatre ‘off the grid’ for each performance,” she said. “This means that the moment the audience enters our space, there is no outside electricity entering the building. To light the hall, we will hook up a car battery to some lights. Actors will be riding the generators on the stage to light the audience’s seats. Bathrooms will be lit by the users providing light with hand-crank flashlights. Instead of programs we will have a wall with hand-written information on recycled paper for people to read.”

SPECIAL FEATURES

  • Watch a 5-minute television feature about the Max and the show from KING-5 TV’s Evening Magazine by reporter Jim Dever, broadcast February 8. Click here to watch.
  • Listen to a February 6 interview with Max on Seattle’s NPR station KUOW. Click here to listen to Max’s segment in Real Player format. Or visit KUOW’s web site for an MP3 of the entire broadcast.
  • Read the January Spotlight at GreenIsSexy.org for an extensive interview with Max and Ellie!
  • Check out the YouTube video of Max demonstrating a generator in action!

REVIEWS

Misha Berson, The Seattle Times:

“If you gotta have a gimmick, the one Annex Theatre employs in Keep the Light On is an eco-friendly dandy. … What a novelty, in an age of digital and automatic everything, to see the cheerful, muscle-toned cast members take turns whirring away on stationary bikes.”

Foxy Populi “is a hilarious, sharp-fanged satire on the downfall of Western civilization, through the meltdown of a crazed blond pop star…, a swift, smash-mouthed portrait of celeb self-destruction. … Even people who wouldn’t be caught dead reading People magazine at the supermarket should know enough about Britney Spears to find this whipsaw version of her saga smart, funny and horrifying.”

1001 is “a skein of surreal scenes spun by a Scheherazade-like delivery boy who tangles with a one-eyed pharmacist, a homicidal client and a lisping Mexican widow.”

ElectriCity is “sweet and twisted, a puppet/human chronicle of a curious child and her mother visiting the world’s last remaining amusement park.”

“Bravo to Annex for continuing its irreverent explorations – and for ‘going green’ in a whole new way.”

Miryam Gordon, Seattle Gay News:

Foxy Populi is “fast and furious and sad and strange. … Megan Ahiers channels Britney [Spears]…as if Britney had suddenly shown up to be in this play.”

ElectriCity “had the most intriguing contexts and the best acting from Pamala Mijatov as a little girl who visits this strange amusement park. She has a particularly haunting little girl voice, as she observes too much for her own good.”

Keep the Light On is “a worthy effort, an interesting evening and a challenge to think about.”

Joe Adcock, Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

Keep the Light On “is an exercise in anti-conventional comedy…. The show is made up of three darkly comic one-acts…overwhelmed with shadows.” Keep the Light On “is a uniquely theatrical take on the familiar theme of a dystopian future…. Six plucky performers struggle to put on a show. Their hands, faces and clothes are smudged with dirt, but their creative spirits are unblemished.”

Neil Corcoran, Seattle Weekly:

Keep the Light On is “a well-done and novel sort of play-within-a-play which channels three curious vignettes of imagination and moral wonder.”


Foxy (Megan Ahiers) and her asset manager Jett Alamo (Alex Garnett) feel each other, while Sam Wilson pedals for power.

CAST
Megan Ahiers
Deniece Bleha
Alex Garnett
Ciara Griffin
Pamala Mijatov
Beverly Ann Thompson
Julie Westlin-Naigus
Sam Wilson
CREW
Stage Manager Kristina Volkman
Set Design Max Reichlin
Light Design Max Reichlin
Costume Design Emily Carlsen
Props Design Alex Harris
Sound Design Jason Miller
Dramaturg Brendan Healy

SPECIAL THANKS

Annex Theatre’s 21st Season is generously supported by: 4Culture, Flintridge Foundation, Seattle Foundation, the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs, Microsoft, and The Boeing Company.

Thanks to GreenIsSexy.org for featuring KTLO as their Spotlight of the Month for January 2008!

Special thanks to Wright Brothers Cycle Works in Seattle for their support and donations to this project.

Thanks to Cranked Magazine for blogging about KTLO.