Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The New Adventures of Popeye Opens This Week After Jenny and Jenni!

Hello all! Factory ensemble member Sarah Rose Graber here! I wanted to let you know about another show we have coming up: “The New Adventures of Popeye!” We’ve taken five clowns and created a series of episodes using your favorite Popeye characters and put them into more modern scenarios. We’ve used the world of Popeye to embrace current issues through high-energy slapstick comedy, cartoon inspired fights, and just the right amount of satire.

Many of you saw our first stab at this idea during the Abbie Hoffman Festival. There was an overwhelmingly great response to our quirky take on modernizing the old, classic Popeye episodes. As you can imagine, we couldn’t have been happier. People wanted more, so we took our little show to Strawdog for another successful performance! And now we’re back home at the Factory for a whole late night run! Friends, we are jumping for joy! EXCITING!

We’ve been learning a lot from each other and developing how we work as an ensemble. As a result, we feel our material for this show is even stronger than the last! We’ve created a brand new series of episodes for this late night run and we have done our best to bring this cartoon world to life in our writing and execution. From the moment you walk in the theatre, we will have games and prizes for people, and in true Factory Theater form, we encourage you to grab a beer and dive in with us for a good time! The water feels just right!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Almost there...

Tech Week. That magical time when everyone involved in a show comes together to make sure everything happens as it should. It's exciting to say the least.

At the Factory, there is an extra sense of anticipation because we're bringing a world premiere to the stage and that premiere is more often than not, the product of people within our ensemble.

Jenny & Jenni marks the playwriting debut of longtime Factory ensemble member Shannon O'Neill, as well as the Factory main stage directorial debut of ensemble member Laura McKenzie.

Previews begin tomorrow night and we are really thrilled to bring audiences in for the first time. It's
pretty cool to be able to present something that no one has ever seen before. For only 10 bucks, Factory Theater gives people the opportunity to be able to say, "Jenny and Jenni, 2010 first preview...I was there, man, I was there." Come check it out. It feels good.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Toga Party Tonight!

T's Bar! 5025 N. Clark

Come for the drinks...stay for the drinks.

Special bonus deal for party attendees: I can only tell you if you're at the party.

Special bonus deal hint:

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Dateline: Factory

Chicago. May 30th-June 6th

Seven Things I've Learned In The First Week Of LOA Rehearsal

1)Fight Rehearsal, or How I Learned to Parry:
For those of you in the theater community reading this, I'm sure you've all experienced rehearsals in a space other than where the performance will eventually take place. It's never a really big deal; kinda like having the hiccups. A minor inconvinience, but you know at some point you'll be breathing again. And there's no comparison to tech week when there's the constant give and take adjustments going on all the time. Like trying to win an argument with my wife. Luckily, I always manage to duck when she chucks a Fresnel at me. I'm all about similie.

2) Sweating:
I try not to, but my glands are tied. There's no better way to get to know a complete stranger than sliding together like freshly harvested eels at a 4am Japanese fish market, (thanks for the similie tip, Bourdain). It's even better if you already know the person. 'Cause then it's like, "Hey! This deepens our friendship! We don't even need a towel for this"! Note to all directors: Stage combat rehearsal in the month of June equals cast bonding, (I'm talking to your collective armpits Sevigny and Dughi).

3) Rehearsing in a Former Funeral Home, or How One of Our Cast Members Sees Dead People:

Funeral homes are fun, let's all agree. I mean, you never know what will happen. Well, you might have a general idea. But there's always something going on. Lingering spirits, for instance. During rehearsal I tried to deliver a right cross to Gorsky's chin and turned into Whoopi Goldberg. It was fun for a while since I was the only black person in the cast, but eventually everyone called me on my relationship with Ted Danson. I cried openly, (but it might have been Whoopi's tears) and went down the street for some hot links. Engle was pissed.

4) How I Figured Out How to Reinforce the Relatively Recent Pride That Comes with Proclaiming Yourself a "Geek", Wondering if You Should go to That Party or Not When You'd Rather Stay Home Pounding PowerAde with Your Buddies for an "Old School" Night of Dungeons and Dragons, or How to Take the Concept of "Viral Video" and reduce it to a "Viral Phrase" via the Interwebs:


5) BARS: Why are they located next to theaters?

Tip: If you go to the Burlington (pronounced grandly in descending tone as "UHtheburlington"), bring your night vision goggles. And I'm convinced Dukes is run by canines. That is all.

6) Shooting a Promo in the Rain, or How None of the Tennants Appreciated Corri's Wonder Woman Costume (except a little kid):

Shannon and Chuck were gracious enough to let us film on their sharecroping expanse of cement, but I should quit smoking. Nothing like doing a fight full-speed multiple times. And then gasping like a Lung Fish that just reached land. See? Similie and Sea Creatures. Which is the name of my next album.
7) How to End a Blog:

What Would (your) Koken Do?

Koken: The black-robed stage assistant of Kabuki who assists the actor with properties and costume on stage. (thank you bookrags.com)

Mine would carry a sign that says shazaam!

And anytime I said something like "I want a root beer" or "Give me back my beard clippers" my Koken would go:

And then I'd get what I want.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Geek of the Week: Comics

Comic books have a fun outlook on life. Examine the stereotypical comic book format: wonderfully overblown characters, impossibly proportioned bodies, and the sweetness of superpowers, for starters. Add in characters talking to themselves to describe narrative action ("Head spinning...stomach empty...gotta have sandwich...") and pages gushing with splashy action and you have a great gumbo of enjoyment. My favorite absurdity, however, is the sound effects. For one of the best examples of this trope, witness the Batman fights via Adam West:

Start your smorgas-soundboard off with "Sock," "Pow," and "Zok" with plenty more to come. There is a lot of silliness to the Adam West Batman. A LOT. But it's a head-first, fun-loving dive into an ingrained trait of comics.

Comic book sounds can be so ingrained that they take on a life & recognition of their own. Some characters can lay claim to their own unique sound effects. "Snikt!" is closely tied to the X-Men's Wolverine and "Thwipp!" to Spider-Man just to name a couple. According to Wikipedia, these sounds are trademarked by Marvel Comics, but a detailed search of the US Patent and Trademark Office did not confirm this (always double-check Wikipedia, kids).

As this is Geek of the Week, I have my own broad sampling of the comic sound effects oeuvre. Here follows a shortened classification:

Contact Sounds (usually fist-on-face), i.e., the Adam West Batman specialty:
  • Pow! Wham! Boom!

Vocal Reaction to Contact Sounds. What the fist-on-face recipient says after said action:
  • Ooof! Ungh! Argh!

Weapon Sounds. Those made by lasers, eye beams, energy blasters, and other props:

  • Zaakkkk! Bzzzzt! Va-Whoom!

Character-Specific Sounds:

  • Snikt! Thwip! Bamf! Zapt! Shazam! Krakadoom!

During the so-called Golden Age and Silver Age of comics, these types of sound tropes were common. While some of these onomatopoeic (Vocabulary! Ka-Blam!) methods remain in place, modern comics seem to favor a shorter, more efficient sound style. Instead of "Yeeeeeaaaaarrrggghhhhh!!!" a character today might simply say, "Nnf." Although nothing tops the single-digit sound effect, often employed when a character dies or passes out:


Shortest word balloon possible.

To me, the sound exclamations are a big slice of the fun pie that is comics. Within this brand of literature, imagination runs wild and any flight of fancy is within reach. It is also a visually-based medium, allowing simultaneous expression through pictures partnered with text. I like things graphic, so comics are specially simpatico with me. Fortunately, many good writers, past and present, have graced this medium. Which brings us to The League of Awesome.

This show furthers the medium's indulgences. It's a romp with appreciative nods to classic and modern comic stories. It's also girl-centric and girl-penned. Women writers are a very underutilized branch of the comic book tree. This trend is changing, and The League of Awesome is a terrific trailblazer.

I can't say what sound effects will be employed, but I know L.O.A. has action abounding. I expect this show to have the cheeky fun of Adam West's Batman but be far cooler to look at and much smoother in its execution. My money's on it. In fact, I expect the smart whips involved in this show will find a way to leverage cool sound. They are a group of super heroes after all.

Until next issue, WHAM! (the sound, not the horrible music group)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Grilled Meat, Cold Beer and Kicking the Ass of Villains or What I Did on My Summer Vacation

by Corri Feuerstein

For some, summer begins with Memorial Day and the chance to wear those white shoes that have been calling your name since March. For others, it begins when children come back into the house, their laughter filling the room when you ask them to clean things. For others, a barbeque is the inaugural summer kickoff meal, and thus the season begins.

For me, summer begins when I don red, white and blue spandex and start delivering roundhouse kicks to the face.

Sure, this may not be the typical tire-swing-over-a-river, Country Time Lemonade type of vision most have, but screw it. Rivers are filthy and no one trusts the ropes on a tire swing unless they're drunk. And everyone is drunk in those commercials. Make no mistake. Summer begins with The League of Awesome.

Last summer, Sara Sevigny and I took on a project with a deadline of July 1. We had to finish our first draft of The League of Awesome in order for it to be considered for the next Factory season. We wrote furiously, ignoring sleep and day job responsibilities to get it done. One of us is now unemployed, but we'll just go ahead and say that isn't related. Obviously, we finished. And 97,000 drafts later, The League of Awesome is now in rehearsal, scheduled to open on July 16, 2010. There is a phenomenal cast and crew attached, and we're watching this thing come to life. The only eloquent thought I have on that is: Holy Shit.

I have wanted to be a superhero for so long -- I used to dream I could fly. It was a top secret thing, and people would freak the fuck out in my dream when I showed them. My voicemail has declared me a part-time superhero for the last six or so years. I have wanted to write with Sara for a damn long time, and write a show for the Factory ever since I saw Alive. (Yeah, I just dated myself. Let's say I saw it as an infant, ok?) So now, all of this comes together nicely in one summer package wrapped with a kickass bow of justice.

Summer and superheroes go nicely together. I mean, seriously, those thumbtack-sized costumes aren't built for winter warfare. Mine fits in a Ziplock bag and I'll be living on gum, caffeine and pure will.

As we head into summer, we see those kids on vacation out there, doing what we did at their age: playing outside and pretending to be stronger than we actually are. Whether sprinting at lightning speeds for the ice cream truck, aiming higher on the swings, cartwheeling and spinning 'til you puke, or balancing on someone's feet on your stomach to play "Superman", we've all dreamt of being a hero. And now, thanks to shirking the responsibility of a job that pays me and locking myself in a dark theater away from sunshine, my loved ones and reality, I get to be one.

This really is going to be the best summer ever. It's the summer of Awesome, and I'm happy as hell to be a part of it.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Ensemble Update

Need a Factory fix before the summer? Check out what some of our ensemble members have been working on:

Matt Engle, after recently closing Legion with Wildclaw Theater, is back as a buccaneer at Navy Pier. Check him out. Watch him shake his pirate treasure. At the end of May, he begins rehearsals for Factory's LEAGUE OF AWESOME!

Corri Feuerstein, founding director of Will Act For Food Theater Company, recently produced the currently running Ten Unknowns by Jon Robin Baitz. Shows run Thurs.- Sun. through May 29. Go here for more details. All food donations benefit the Lakeview Pantry.

Laura McKenzie is part of the two-woman comedy rock extravaganza known as the Laura On Laura Comeback Tour. Shows run on Thursdays through May 20 at the iO Theater. Click here for more info. Click here to read the review in the Tribune.

Eric Roach will be appearing in The Odd Couple, a little-known diddy by some dude named Neil Simon. Previews are May 18-22 and opening night is May 23 at the Raven Theater. Click here for more info!

Now go see some shows!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

So Easy Being Cheesy

If you are thinking about seeing the show tonight, it's sold out.

But here's an 80's fix for you from one of the authors of the HIT SOLD OUT SHOW, Kirk Pynchon.

Hey, Kirk. What's so funny? Seriously. Stop laughing.

Remember when headshots were in black and white? Like 90 years ago.

I wonder what that shirt feels like.


By Kirk Pynchon

The summer of my sixteenth year I thought I was the coolest motherfucker on the planet. Not because I had my own car (a 1983 blue Oldsmobile Cutlass Sierra previously owned by my mom). Not because I started wearing two different types of cologne (Polo in the day, Drakkar Noir in the evening). Not even because I started dressing like Don Johnson from “Miami Vice”(who was, and still is, something of a mentor to me). No, I was cool because I spent the Sunday nights of my summer hanging out at a nightclub called The Cosmopolitan or, for those in the know, Cosmo for short. Sure, The Cosmo was an under eighteen club that served no booze and was located deep in the burbs of Cleveland, Ohio, but what did that matter? I was a clubman and The Cosmo was my home.

The Cosmo was located at the very end of a shopping mall in Mentor, Ohio, about an hour outside of Cleveland. This being the Midwest, the club was very democratic. There was no doorman, no velvet ropes, no VIP’s. You simply walked up to the front door, paid your five-dollar cover and entered the hippest place on earth.

To be honest, I’m sure that the inside of The Cosmo looked like a nightclub on the ground floor of a Ramada Inn located just outside of any major U.S. airport. But at sixteen, to me it was the epicenter of all things cool. Strobe lights, dry ice machines, loud 80’s dance music, and chicks with ridiculously big hair – The Cosmo had everything. And I was a part of it.

One of the greatest and coolest moments of my life happened one night at The Cosmo – which makes me quite the sentimentalist or just plain pathetic. I was on the dance floor grooving to “Can You Feel the Beat” by Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam. I had just performed my patented spin move, you know, the one where I spin around one and a half times rather than once because one spin is for pussies? And as I finished my turn, there she was: the cutest girl I had ever seen. She wore long spandex pants and a huge, oversized paisley shirt. Brightly colored, neon bracelets covered one arm. She wore earrings so big they could choke a donkey. And she had the biggest fucking hair I had ever seen. It was massive. It was more than just a hairdo – it was a lifestyle. She might have been wearing perfume, but it didn’t matter as I was intoxicated by the overwhelming smell of her Aqua Net Hairspray.

I slow motion walked over to her and immediately started dancing. Didn’t talk, didn’t ask, didn’t beg. Just immediately started dancing in front of her. She couldn’t resist me. She couldn’t resist my incredibly moussed hair. She couldn’t resist my white sports jacket with the sleeves rolled up and the collar popped. She was mine.

As we danced she told me her name was Trisha and she worked weekends at The Chess King (I quickly made a mental note: “If I start dating her seriously, I bet I could get a discount!”). We danced with each other to every song. We danced to the good – “Kiss” by Prince, “Word Up” by Cameo. We danced to the bad – “Take Me Home Tonight” by Eddie Money, “Dancing on the Ceiling” by Lionel Richie. And we danced to the just plain bizarre – “St. Elmo’s Fire” by John Parr? The thing was, it didn’t matter what song we danced to. All that mattered was that I was a dude grinding with a chick without any parental supervision.

Then the DJ, as if he knew ahead of time that Trish and I were meant to be together, slowed things down and spun “Broken Wings” by Mister Mister. I looked at Trisha. Trisha looked at me. No words were spoken. We started to slow dance. Trisha put her head on my slightly hairy chest and we just swayed. She looked up at me with those big, heavy, mascara eyes and smiled. I felt like we were the only two people on the dance floor. I felt like we were the only two people in the world. We were one.

So I sang to her.

“Take these broken wings/And learn to fly again/Learn to live so free”

“When we hear/The voices sing/The book of love will open up and let us in”

(And yes, I whispered the “Yeah Yeahs” right after the chorus. I whispered it right in her ear. Cause I was that cool.)

As the night drew to a close (this being an underage club, I think all of us had eleven o’clock curfews), I decided to take it to the next level.

“So,” I asked Trisha, “Can I call you sometime?”

Trish smiled and took out a pen from her silver studded purse.

“Do you have anything to write on?”

I looked around, hoping to find a cocktail napkin at the bar, but there was nothing. I guess teenagers really, really need something to rest their Pepsis on. I knew I’d never remember her number and yet I knew that I had to have it. I couldn’t leave The Cosmo and never see this girl again.

Then it hit me in a flash: A way to get her number and a way to impress her at the same time. Suavely, I pulled out my wallet, you know, the ones that velcroed, pulled out a one-dollar bill, gazed into her eyes…

…And ripped it in half.

“Here, “ I said, casually handing her half of the dollar, “write it on this.”

Trisha’s eyes widened in astonishment. She might have thought I was extremely rich. She might have thought I was incredibly cocky. She might have thought I was a bad ass for committing a felony. But, regardless of what she thought, I knew that at the very least, she thought I was fucking cool. *

(*I have since told my wife this story, and all she has to say about it is, “You dumb ass. Why would you waste a dollar like that?”)

Trisha wrote down her number, leaned in and kissed me. She tasted like watermelon and I could feel just a hint of a moustache on her upper lip (which I actually was a little jealous of).

“Call me soon,” is all she said.

I wish I could say that the rest of the summer was as magical as that night at The Cosmopolitan. But, alas, it was not. Though we did a lot of dry humping that summer in the backseat of my car, Trisha was not the girl for me. In fact, she turned out to be a ball buster and an incredible pain in the ass, and when she got grounded for an entire month at the end of the summer, our relationship died. I never got that discount at The Chess King.

But I will never forget that incredible moment we shared at that nightclub. And I’m pretty sure Trisha didn’t either.

One year later I went back to The Cosmo and nothing had changed. The strobe lights, dry ice machines and the 80’s dance music were still there. Except The Cosmo was no longer an underage nightclub.

It was now a Laser Tag Center.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Opening Night

Cat Dughi and Jill Oliver
Now that's what I'm talkin' about.

Dancing ladies makes Mike Ooi a little too excited.

Wait. Sorry. That's just a cupcake.

Aileen May and Esteban Andres Cruz

They don't have to take their clothes off to have a good time.

They can dance and party all night. And drink some cherry wine.


Colin Milroy, the face behind the magic, and Sara Sevigny, the magic, enjoy some crazy green trashcan punch that was CRAZY.

Angelina Martinez and the Bollo

Only rock stars allowed at this party.

Casey Pilkenton and Jacob Ware.

Which one needs help standing?

DJ Chas Vrba, Allison Cain and Noah Simon

Without you, we would be nothing. NOTHING!!!!!

Thank you Factory for a kickass opening night!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Help us get up to 5k TODAY- with IGIVE

Together, you and iGive.com can make times a little less tough for The Factory Theater

The Factory Theater gets a dollar for each person who joins iGive using the special link below and visits one store via iGive between noon Wednesday, March 24, 2010 (Chicago time) and noon Thursday, the next day.


The Fine Print:

- Offer active between 12:00 p.m. (noon) March 24, 2010 and 11:59 a.m., March 25, 2010 (Chicago time).
- New members only (never have been an iGive member previously).
- All the normal rules of membership, searching, and purchasing apply, our site has the details.
- Once we've given away $5,000 in total, the offer ends.
- The special link and visiting a store via iGive are necessary. No link, no store visit, no $1.

Help today!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Factory Theater is a Goddamn Chicago Treasure

Check out TimeOut Chicago's Review of Hey! Dancin'!

May we all just take a moment and agree that the Factory Theater is a goddamn Chicago treasure? In the homeland of scrappy ensembles achieving longevity on their own DIY terms, the Factory’s 18-year run and uncompromisingly weirdo aesthetic deserve praise. There may be no other company that so shamelessly, and regularly, dials up to 11.

Hey! Dancin’!, the company’s latest, sounds nightmarish on paper. It’s 1986, and two silly girls sneak onto their favorite cable-access dance show to hook up with their dreamy guys of choice. The host is named after a douche, the middle-aged station manager is a pillow fetishist, and there’s a magical black girl sent by Prince to save us all. Factory member Beyer and former ensemble member Pynchon, who’ve separately penned multiple scripts for the company, push the ridiculous further than you’d think possible, taking a Saved by the Bell premise to a cocaine-punched conclusion.

First-time director Graber makes sure the plot moves but wisely focuses on the far funnier ’80s stereotypes trapped inside it. The cast is stellar, playing parodies of parodies. Catherine Dughi infuses wanna-be slut Trisha with precision ditziness, while Aileen May’s resident mean girl has a soul as acid-washed as her fringe jacket. Rachel Sypniewski’s costumes are both far too much and just right, down to the purple suede, red vinyl and $14 shades. What could have been a pop-reference death march is, in the Factory’s hands, cheap, relentless and hysterical.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Insider: Opening Weekend

I love surprises. Pleasant ones especially, and this past weekend had a couple.

Opening weekend for Hey! Dancin'! is in the bag. As expected, the cast did their work in dazzling fashion. I cannot adequately commend the wonderful attitudes, dedicated energy, and extreme hotness of every cast member with my words. They are golden. The wonderful theater they create needs to be seen and absorbed to its full effect. These beauties are supported by the smartest and sexiest crew there is. I'm so happy with all the technical elements that support the production. I love all these folks. So go see what they've made. It is a wonder to behold.

But on to the surprises. The first happy one was the huge number of people who have already seen the show. Previews were nearly (or completely) sold out every night. Previews! Opening night was sold out, and even with some attendance drop-off Saturday and Sunday, the total attendance for this weekend was astonishing. Good crowds were expected, but having to turn people away during Previews was not, nor was what came as surprise #2.

This next big surprise was the deviously executed operation of sneaking co-playwright Kirk Pynchon from Los Angeles into Chicago for Opening Night. This operation was so stealthy that even this Insider was unaware. The cast and local fan girls of Kirk Pynchon, Jet Set hottie, collectively squealed with glee upon his entrance.

Based on the loud laughter I've heard from the lobby, our audiences are enjoying themselves. As I write this, we have gotten one review so far, and it is very positive. I hope that this tremendously successful first weekend rolls into an amazing run. Part of that depends on you, dear reader, and when you see the show. Please do so, if you haven't already. You'll love it. That will come as no surprise.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Why We Love* the 80's Part I: My Hair

Hey! Dancin'! is really bringing back the good ol' 1986 memories. Out of everything that comes to mind when I think of my childhood during that great* decade, what really stands out are my epic struggles...with my hair.

Now, granted, that gorgeous* lady isn't me, but because I couldn't find any pics of my own 80's hair ("couldn't" meaning "wouldn't") she graciously donated her face for this post.

80's hair was big. And my baby-fine, heat-resistant, curl-resistant, everything-resistant coif just wasn't up to the challenge. I tried to spiral perm my hair so many times that I'm shocked it didn't simply go on strike and fall out. I remember buying bottles of Rave #4 and using an old tooth brush and a curling iron with a circumference the size of a fishing pole to coax my bangs 3 inches off my forehead -- only to watch them wilt and fall the moment I stepped out into a mild breeze.

But the ultimate futility?

Banana clips.
Other girls had curly, frosted-tip manes flowing in a perfectly centered cascade down the middle of their backs while I had long, anemic straggles, incapable of even holding the clip in. Walking down the hallway at school was inevitably too much jostling for my languid hair to handle, and the clip would simply slide all the way down and sit on my back or, worse yet, completely drop out and hit the floor.

Hey! Factory! How about doing a show that takes place in the 90's? Flannels, ripped jeans, baggy clothes...not only could I finally put away my pencil-sized curling iron and bottles of Aussie Liquid Cement spray, but also I didn't even have to wash my hair. In fact, not washing my hair made me look fashionable! Now that's my kind of decade.

*- an indication of slight sarcasm

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Hey! Dancin'! Video Promo

Many thanks to the incredible duo of Mike Tutaj and Elizabeth McQuern for putting this together. Feast your eyes and ears:

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Insider: The Dance So Far

I positively crackle with excitement as I write this. It’s taken me a while to write about this next great Factory play and I have seen so much to like about the production during that time. The energies building around Factory’s production of Hey! Dancin'! for the past six weeks are hyper-electric. Watching everyone involved lower their heads and charge into the fun makes me giddy. The process cranked to an even higher notch when Chicago was graced by world class cable access chick magnet Kirk Pynchon this past weekend. Kirk dragged himself off the silicon-soaked, botox-infested breast of Los Angeles to make a spectacular return to Chicago and provide choreography for this swinging text he created with Mike Beyer. Based on the swoons of passion I’ve heard from the cast, Kirk’s visit was a resounding success. I can’t wait to see the results.

So, this Insider has so much to review. The cast is stunning. They blend and bond so well. I’m dumbfounded that we could assemble this much talent in one place and not have faces melt. If you think I exaggerate, I dare you to come see what this cast can do. What they’ve created so far on just a bare stage is captivating. I’m so damn thrilled with every single friggin one of them. We are fortunate to have this level of talent to help us produce this play.

Speaking of producing, I personally count my blessings with this production crew. Another amazing level of talent in each area. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by these fine, savvy technicians with mad skills. Their designs and dedicated work running the show will be a big piece of the spectacular dancing pie that the audience will eagerly devour. Based on the response from the rousing Launch Party at Chief O’Neill’s on February 18, we’ve got a show that will thrill. In short, I am really pleased with the process to this point.

So that’s the dance so far. Roaring with promise beyond my wildest expectations. We have a ways to go yet. There’s still a few weeks before the first preview. The cast is off book and will incorporate the choreography this week. The designers start their constructing, painting, recording, focusing, cueing, and fitting as we lead up to Load-In. We've got a lot of parts in place already. Still, many things could happen between now and when the first audience arrives. Tech week will be the usual marathon for everyone. For the cast and crew, I hope for nothing worse than soreness and fatigue from all this dancing and producing. I hope that everyone feels fulfilled in their work. I personally love watching every piece of this production machine go. With Superwoman Sarah Rose Graber steering the ship (one couldn’t ask for a better production partner), we can navigate through the choppy waters. I'm so grateful for the support from those around me in the production, both inside and outside the crew. I believe all the time, hard work, and sweet dance moves going into this production will be rewarded. For what it’s worth, I’m the show’s biggest groupie. I’m as excited to be backstage with these rock stars as the bubbliest teenager from the 80’s. Come and see for yourself.

PS: coming soon is a video promo for this show that’ll blow your leg warmers off. I’ll let you know where to find it as soon as it’s available.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Cost Of Being Famous

(EDITOR'S NOTE: As we go full-steam ahead with rehearsals for Hey! Dancin'!, co-playwright Kirk Pynchon shares a particularly fond memory of the year 1986. Enjoy.)

During my junior year in high school I became famous…sort of. I auditioned and became a cast member of “Jet Set”, a local cable access show in Cleveland. Jet Set was a teen show, “produced for teens, by teens”, as the log line went. It was essentially an hour-long talk show where local teen athletes, musicians and honor roll students got interviewed ad nauseam, interspersed with bootlegged MTV videos of the hippest rock bands at the time (Mr. Mister, The Outfield, The Hooters). I was the co-host and VJ of Jet Set – and I thought I was the motherfucking bomb.

Now, in full disclosure, I was never recognized from Jet Set. With the exception of my mom, no one I know watched the show. Occasionally one of my friends would watch it after I bugged them incessantly. They would respond with, “Dude, I saw your show. You looked like a total homo.” But that didn’t matter. In my heart and in my head I was a star and a tall, cold glass of awesome.

There was one time when I actually experienced a moment of idol worship. One of the girls on the show, Tanya, had a friend named Robin who “thought I was the best part of the show and looked just like Don Johnson.” She desperately wanted to meet me. Tanya assured me that Robin was really cute and would I be interested in going out on a double date with her?

Hell yes!

I was absolutely ready and willing and able to meet some of my public. And if my public just so happened to be one cute girl that was enamored with me then even better. I hate to use the term “fan” (as Prince says, “Fan is short for fanatic so I like to call my fans ‘friends’”) but I was about to hook up with my very first, full-blown groupie.

The double date took place that Saturday night at a miniature golf course on the west side of Cleveland. Tanya was there with her boyfriend Jeff and when she introduced me to Robin I knew that it was going to be not a good night but a great night. Robin was absolutely cute. She was a vision of pink – pink shirt, pink skirt, pink socks and pink scrunchy. She had such incredibly feathered hair that Heather Locklear would have wept from jealously. And she wore this incredibly sweet smelling perfume that I only later realized was called “Poison” (I only realized it later because the girl whom I lost my virginity to wore it and today I can’t smell Poison without feeling really, really old).

Robin came up to me, a bundle of nerves, and said, “Oh my gosh! I am so excited to meet you!”

As cool as the other side of the pillow I said, “Well, I’m excited to meet you too, Robin. I’m glad you’re a Jet Set enthusiast. Now, shall we golf?”

Robin melted into a pool of Kirk Pynchon adoration right before my very eyes.

So our time on the miniature golf course was magic. Robin was completely engrossed in all things me. She hung on every word I said. Every subject I brought up fascinated her; the importance of “Miami Vice” in my life, my basketball career and why I deserved more playing time, how much I liked chicken parm sandwiches. Everything riveted her.

We continued our putt putt game, not caring what the score was (which was good because, honestly, I sucked at putt putt). As we moved to the last hole on the course, a gust of wind suddenly blew a leaf into Robin’s well-coifed hair. Seeing a chance to be a gentleman and give her a thrill at the same time, I smiled and said, “You have a leaf in your hair. Let me get it out.”

I put my golf club down and casually walked up to Robin, who looked at me with her expectant, hazel eyes. I reached to pluck the offending leaf away…

…and scraped the entire side of her face with the pencil that I had forgotten was still in my hand.

Robin looked at me with horror and pain as if to say, “Why, Kirk, why?”

Robin now had a huge red wound that went the length of her entire cheek. It remained there for the rest of the night. Luckily, her obsession with all things Kirk was still as strong as ever (but not nearly as strong as mine) and she forgave me. By the time Jeff and Tanya drove us to the nearby Pizza Hut for dinner, Robin had reapplied another layer of blush and it was like the incident never happened.

At the Pizza Hut, while we ordered our Meat Lover’s Pan Pizza, Robin mentioned that she wanted to get a salad from the salad bar. Being the classy guy I was, I offered to go up to the salad bar for her. Robin just beamed.

“Any special requests?” I asked.

“Well, definitely no onions,” Robin said, which I took to mean I can’t wait to make out with you later, “and lots of ranch dressing.”

My heart sank a little bit. I hated ranch dressing. I still do. It is the worst fucking salad dressing on the planet. I’d rather drink my own urine then eat a salad with ranch on it. But I wasn’t about to let ranch dressing come between me and a little tongue action with Robin so I forced out a smile.

“Coming right up,” I said.

I went up to the salad bar and began creating the prettiest goddamn salad you have ever seen. Lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppercinis, croutons – all perfectly proportioned and all perfectly organized on the plate. Robin would lose her mind when she saw how awesome I had made her salad.

As I made my way over to the tubs o’ dressing, I started to get a little nervous. Could I really kiss Robin after her mouth had been swimming in a ranch dressing pool? I wasn’t sure, so to be safe, I put the ranch dressing in a small bowl on the side. That way I could control the amount of ranch she would be using. Genius, I know.

I sauntered back to our table where I thought it would be really charming if I pretended to be a French waiter and impress Robin with what little of the French language I had learned in school.

“Votre salade, Madame,” I said in the worst accent possible.

And I was right. I was charming and Robin was impressed. That is, until the small bowl of ranch dressing fell off of the salad plate and landed right in her lap. Robin was now completely mortified and rushed to the bathroom with Tanya to clean off the gobs of ranch dressing that now clung to her skirt.

I sat down, full of shame and embarrassment. Jeff, who I didn’t really know and had only met that night, said through a mouthful of pizza, “That shit was hysterical.”

The rest of our dinner was an exercise in me trying to win Robin back. Though she wasn’t cold towards me things were definitely a little chilly and I worked overtime in my attempts to charm the socks off of her. I told jokes and I made compliments. I talked about the inner workings of Jet Set and what it was like working on a hit teen talk show. I even paid for dinner for all four of us just so she’d think I was still a big shot (which Jeff was only to happy for me to do). I did whatever I had to in order to maintain my one true fan and keep my hope for groupie sex alive.

So as it was getting late, Jeff drove us back home. Being in the back seat with Robin, I knew that this was where I needed to make a big move. The move that would effortlessly segue into some back seat heavy petting. Luckily, I had that big move – my killer move. It had never failed me in the past and it certainly wasn’t going to fail me now.

“Hey,” I said to Robin in my best Mickey Rourke whisper, “I’m really glad you’re here.”

“Yeah?” Robin asked with love in her eyes.

I let a silence come between us before I said, “Yeah.”

Robin smiled at me. I smiled at Robin. Robin inched closer to me. I inched closer to Robin. Robin put her hand on my thigh. I elbowed Robin right in the nose.

Okay, in my defense, it wasn’t my fault! Jeff had a beat-to-shit Honda Civic Hatchback that had absolutely zero room in the back seat. Plus he was a slob and had a bunch of crap thrown around so I really had no space to work. So when I went to put my arm around her I accidentally smashed her in the nose with my elbow. I swear, if I had been in a Lincoln Continental then this would be a completely different story.

But none of this mattered to Robin. She had had enough of me. I scraped cheek, a stained skirt and a bloody nose was enough punishment for one night. TV star or no TV star, Robin was going to have nothing to do with me. She stewed for the rest of the ride home, pinching her nose and wiping the tears from her eyes.

As I got home that night I remember thinking to myself, “What’s the big deal? I bet there are other chicks out there who have seen Jet Set and who want me even more than Robin. I’m a TV star! They’ll be coming after me in now time.”

Three months later the show was canceled.

Post script: I recently dug out the video of my Jet Set appearances (which as a teenager I had labeled “Jet Set – The Best of Me”). I popped it into the VCR and watched my younger self for the first time in over twenty years. The cool, hip guy that I had imagined I always was had been replaced with an awkward, nervous and uncomfortable sixteen-year old with bad acne, even worse hair and a voice that sounded like a eunuch. Very sad.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Hey! Dancin'! Official Release.

Preview Weekend March 12th-14th Fri-Sat 8pm, Sun 7pm $10

Opening Night Friday March 19th 8pm.
Opening night Performance/Post-show party $25.
continuing Fridays & Saturdays at 8pm $20.00,
Sundays 7pm $15.00
Closes April 24th

All performances at Prop Thtr 3502 N. Elston Ave.
Chicago, IL. 60618

Tickets available by calling 866.811.4111 or at www.thefactorytheater.com

The year is 1986. The hair is big, the fashion is ridiculous, and dancing is king. The hottest dance show in Chicago rules the cable access airwaves -- and its name is Hey! Dancin'! It's the last show of the season, and the station manager is threatening to change the music format because the show has gotten "too black". Our heroine Halle Stanton, with the help of her slutty friend Trisha, finagle their way onto the show. Halle hopes to meet the show's Ray-Ban-wearing star -- Kenny Kaposki, better known as Double K. Will love blossom between the innocent Halle and the dance superstar Double K? Will the show survive the change of music from Cameo to Poison? And will Trisha have sex with the show's older (yet willing) host, Randy Massingill? Find out in Hey! Dancin'!


Esteban Andres Cruz, Catherine Dughi*, Dominique Johnson, Laura Korn, Anderson Lawfer, Aileen May, Melissa Nedell, Jill Oliver, Casey Pilkenton, Seth Remington, Sara Sevigny*, Frank R. Sjodin, Noah Simon, Anthony Tournis, and Jacob A. Ware

The Production Team:

Director- Sarah RoseGraber*
Writer- Mike Beyer*
Writer/Choreographer- Kirk Pynchon
Production Manager- Colin Milroy*
Assistant Director- Timothy C. Amos*
Stage Manager- Phil Claudnic*
Assitant Stage Manager- Jermaine Edward Thomas
Technical Director- Jim Moore
Set Designer- Angelina Martinez*
Lighting Designer- Shannon Evans
Costume Designer- Rachel Sypniewski
Sound Designer- Chas Vrba*
Props Mistress- Christine Jennings*
Graphic Designer- Jason Moody

*denotes Factory Member

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Give the Factory a buck with igive.

If you want to help the Factory, but don't have the cash on hand, you can do it by signing up for the Factory igive page. No purchase required. Follow this link:


Sign up, and we get a dollar. So easy, it's almost sick. The one caveat is it must be done by noon on Thursday (tomorrow) So don't delay.