The Subversive Theatre Collective:

2002-2016: Now in Year #13 of our Kamikaze Journey!
Subversive Theatre: Where pissing you off is only the beginning

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  "What is there left for us that have seen the newly discovered stability of things changed from enthusiasm to weariness but to rediscover an art of the theatre, which shall be joyful, fantastic, extravagant, whimsical, beautiful, resonant, and altogether RECKLESS?" 
-- William Butler Yeats
1901

About Our Annual Production for the 
Buffalo "infringement" Festival

     In 2004, Subversive Theatre took a production of the original work A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON MY WAY TO SHOOT THE CZAR by our Founder and Artistic Director Kurt Schneiderman* to the Toronto Fringe Festival.  While many aspects of that production went very well, our participants were generally disappointed to find that this supposedly "Fringe" Festival seemed extremely tame, trivial, commercially-oriented, and all too dominated by corporate sponsorship.
     As fate would have it, in the midst of this disillusionment, Director Kurt Schneiderman* ran into a group from Montreal's Optative Theatrical Laboratory who had been expelled from the Montreal Fringe Festival the year before and had just launched the first-ever "infringement" Festival in Montreal and Toronto.
     This new founded "infringement" Festival was based on the belief that an alternative arts festival should openly encourage socially and politically-relevant material and must NOT become dominated by commercialism.  To achieve this, the "infringement" Festival operated on two fundamental principles: (1) no entry fees for participating artists,  (2) artists keep 100% of all money that comes in at the door for each project.
     Impressed by what he saw, Kurt Schneiderman* spearheaded an effort to launch an "infringement" Festival here in Buffalo.  The first ever Buffalo "infringement" Festival was held throughout the last week of July and the first week of August in 2005.
     The rest -- as they say -- is history.  The Buffalo "infringement" Festival has since mushroomed into an extraordinarily significant annual event on Buffalo's artistic landscape.  Each year, a wide range of our regions most daring, most unusual, and most issue-oriented artisans answer infringement's call making for Buffalo's hands down largest "non-hierarchal, non-commercial" artistic event.  The Festival runs for eleven days of "art under the radar" from the second last Thursday of July through to the first Sunday of August each year.
     To find out more about the Buffalo "infringement" Festival, visit their website at:  www.infringebuffalo.org.
    
The international component of the "infringement" movement continues to grow as well.  What started as a small affair in Montreal has today expanded enormously  with Festivals occurring annually in roughly fifteen different North American cities as well as a handful of cities in Europe.  But Buffalo has bragging rights as the home to what is by far the largest of "infringement" Festivals worldwide.
    
After playing a large role in getting infringement off the ground locally, Subversive Theatre continues to present a production as part of the Buffalo Festival each time around.  We set aside a slot from the end of July through early August each year for our most unconventional, most daring, most experimental, and most controversial projects to fit in with the "infringement" Festival's idiosyncratic mise-en-scene.  
     Here's a rundown of the shows we've held as part of the Festival thus far:

2005.
     Our first "infringement" production was the world-debut of MOTHER DIS-COURAGE, written & directed by Subversive Theatre's Founder & Artistic Director Kurt Schneiderman*.  An outright spoof on Bertolt Brecht's anti-war masterpiece MOTHER COURAGE, this farcical play pit Britney Spears against the ghost of Brecht in the battle for hearts and minds of an American soldier in Iraq and his peace-nik mother back home.
     This production developed into an international tour with performances at "infringement" Festivals in Montreal, Buffalo, and New York City.  Well received at every stop in the journey, the icing on the cake came as we wrapped up our tour with a performance at Greenwich Village's Players Theatre (two floors above the legendary Cafe Wah) for an audience chock-full of East Village radicals who lapped up every neo-Marxist reference!

2006.
     For our second infringement adventure, we presented the entirely off-the-wall redneck-mocking farce SINCERITY FOREVER by Obie Award-winning playwright Mac Wellman.  A gleefully bizarre story of white trash yokels, alien furballs, and blasphemous incarnations of Jesus Christ, this over-the-top play is an unrelenting mockery of American small-minded-ness and bigotry.
     Our rendition of this insane parody was as off-the-wall as the play itself.  All performances were held outdoors in a 1972 Ford Mustang convertible with actors clad in KKK robes as audiences clustered on all sides!  Beset by virulent rainstorms, deranged screaming neighbors, and bemused audience members, this production was an "experience" in every sense of the word.

2007.
    
For what would prove to be one of our most unconventional and most popular projects of all time, our 2007 "infringement" show was a street-roving rendition of Bertolt Brecht's One-Act play THE EXCEPTION AND THE RULE.    
     The play provides an elementary lesson on the evils of oppression as one particularly exploitative "Merchant" drives a horribly over-worked "Coolie" across an Asian desert in the reckless pursuit of profit.  
     Our version called on audience members to literally follow this play's journey as each performance wended it's way -- scene by scene -- through the parks, streets, sidewalks, parking lots, and alleys of Buffalo's Allentown District.  Complete with stylized mask and movement work and an entourage of hippie-bohemian musicians, this production provided audiences (some who planned to watch the show, and some who just happened to be walking down the street) with a totally unique and empowering theatrical experience that was a joy to bring to life!

2008.
     For "infringement" '08, we went way off the beaten track -- LITERALLY -- to the cavernous basement of a defunct factory building on Buffalo's West Side to present the notorious 1960s experimental protest play ...AND THEY PUT HANDCUFFS ON THE FLOWERS. by Fernando Arrabal.
     Set in a Spanish prison during the Franco Dictatorship, this psychedelically surreal drama offers a timeless outcry against imprisonment and authoritarianism amidst breath-taking-ly beautiful poetry and graphically grotesque brutality.
     In keeping with the script, our rendition offered an entirely trippy adventure involving live found-sound music, mind-bending pantomimed movement, and hauntingly stylized mask work to make for perhaps our most all-around "subversive" production to date.

2009.
      For yet another totally rule-breaking re-interpretation, we presented a totally off-the-wall rendition of Eugene O'Neill's One-Act black comedy THE HAIRY APE.  By far O'Neill's most overtly political play, this tale follows the half-comic misadventures of a horribly mis-informed working man who's eager to kill his bourgeois oppressors but just can't quite figure out how to get his mass extermination program underway!
     Adding a bizarre circus-esque setting, our radical adaptation of this theatrical classic involved a long list of experimental elements including live music and Foley effects, puppetry, juggling, intensely choreographed movement work, and a series of stylized, genre-defying performance techniques.

Where from here?
    
The "infringement" Festival has given our troupe a regular slot to focus on for our most irregular productions.  It has encouraged us to spread our creative wings in many new and previously unexplored ways.  We look forward to traversing more uncharted waters with our annual "infringement" productions for many, many years to come.  And we hope you'll join us for the journey!

 * = indicates members of the Subversive Theatre Collective

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