November 30, 2023

Two gay ghosts in a cemetery falling in love, a demonstration of how to put on a condom and a dramatic reading of Ariana Grande’s “thank u, next” were the highlights of this year’s Gonzo Theater.

Gonzo Theater took place in Chakeres Theater this past Thursday. For those unfamiliar with the event, Gonzo Theater is the outrageous and sometimes weird pieces created from an inspirational thing. Gonzo means “freewheeling or unconventional, especially to the point of outrageousness,” and that’s what this year’s selected pieces were.

Student writers had the opportunity to submit writing for a short play over a two-day period. All of the pieces had to use a tailbone wrapped in lace and flowers as their inspiration. From 22 submissions, five were chosen and performed for the event. The actors of each scene only had one hour to practice it.

“You don’t care if you mess up; if it’s weird,” Logan McCord, ’19, the head producer of the event said. “You just do it.”

To start off the late-night event, members of the theater department threw packets of ramen, candy and condoms into the crowd to get them energized. The night followed the structure of each of the five performances with various crowd interaction activities in-between.

Crowd interaction activities included: a dramatic reading of “thank u, next” by Lexi Gallion, ’19; trivia featuring theater department professor Patrick Reynolds, reciting lyrics from a certain chosen word, a demonstration of how to properly put on a condom and an impersonation of a character from “Game of Thrones” by Ted Graeter, ’19.

To start the selected pieces, two actresses – Lydia Berg, ’21, and Kassandra Heironimus, ’19 – performed “Bones” written under a pseudonym, “Azzyland’s mom,” and directed by Olivia Zink, ‘19. These two actresses – one acting as God and the other as “Not God” – brought volunteer Lexie Cole, ’19, from the audience to use her as one of God’s creations.

“Bones” started out with God and “Not God” contemplating how many bones were in Cole and how her joints worked. Some highlight quotes included: “What is coffee?” from “Not God” only for God to respond after a pause, “I haven’t decided yet,” and “What are joints?” followed by “Some kind of drug.”

The second piece performed was “When A Girl Walks In…” by Nicholas Lancaster, ‘22, and directed by Joy Heino,’21. One actor started the scene, almost as if narrating, by singing Sir-Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back,” while two actresses conversed.

The third piece, “Light in the Face” by Jeff Franklin, ‘19, was directed by Kamilla Jensen, ‘19. The scene featured four actors and actresses, Claudia Scully, ’19, Brady Fox, ‘19, Taylor Oberschlake, ‘21 and Audrey Feiler, ’19.

Parents Scully and Oberschlake brought their son Fox into the dentist’s office for an appointment. Feiler plays an obviously over-sexual dentist who only seems interested in putting Fox under for his surgery. The end brings a major twist, however, with Scully pulling a water gun on Feiler; Feiler kills everyone but Oberschlake with a pencil. Then, Oberschlake turned to Feiler and said, “Now we can be alone,” before kissing to end the scene.

“Bouquet of Bones” written by Gallion and directed by Fox was the fourth piece performed on Thursday, staring Kalen O’Daniel, ’19, Dillon Thurber, ‘22 and Caleb Beck, ‘20. O’Daniel and Thurber portray two ghosts while Beck narrated their thoughts of love and desire. The scene ends with the two putting their hands in each other’s pockets and walking offstage before undressing one another behind the theater mainstage set. 

To end the evening, “Mean Mom Named Helga” by Aaron Rutherford, ’20, and directed by Lily Kerr-Jung, ’22, was performed. The scene starred Gallion as the mom and Jensen and Feiler as her two daughters. 

The mom is mean, as it appears as if she doesn’t feed her children properly and eats Fudge Rounds without sharing any with her daughters. Gallion handcuffs her two daughters together to keep them away from her food, but the two still ask for some. Eventually, Gallion suffers some sort of attack that kills her, and the two are able to escape and eat their own Fudge Rounds.

Feiler ended the scene by saying, “She could’ve just given us a Fudge Round.”

Gonzo Theater was presented to a full house and maintained full crowd interaction throughout with laughing, screaming and the occasional “No balls!” call to an actor for not eating a Fudge Round that fell on the ground.

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