About Our Annual Production for the
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
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
Here's a rundown of the shows we've held as part of
the Festival thus far:
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!
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.
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!
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.
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
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!