This last couple of weeks, I was filled with a curiosity and passion to understand the “Neo-Futurists Aesthetic.” See: Neo-Futurists – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Auditions were held for the SF Neo-Futurists last weekend, and I tried out. A prepared two-minute original play was requested for each auditioner.
I created and performed the Illustrated Punologue.
The Illustrated Punologue
©2016 by Katarina Countiss
[Katarina stands midstage, with a stack of 9”x12” basic line drawings with minimal coloration. The drawings are oriented landscape. She holds them in a presentation fashion, facing the audience. Each italicized-bold word is a different drawing. She effortlessly tosses each drawing to the floor to reveal the next drawing while supplies last. The drawings fall to the floor with a natural and organic spread.]
Katarina: Good evening buoys and gulls. Even, though I’m the new squid on the dock, you’re about to get schooled. Hey Anyfin is possible. There are some orcaward puns I’m going to trout. I’m not shore. Water you think? My friends bassed me to do it. Talk about pier pressure!
About me, I like to keep it reel. I can be koi and seal-y, but sometimes I can be sofishticated. I’m a snapper dresser. Also, thrifty. I’ll shop at the cheaper stores, all but Ross.
I like current events, but I’m open minded. I like to hear from both tides, you know, look at things from a different angler. I probably shouldn’t talk about the upcoming eelection, but I can’t kelp myself.
Gillary Clamton or her opp-prawn-nent Bermy Sand dollars? Good reef! She takes anemoney from brig banks, or at least that’s what I’ve been herring. She’s not getting my boat. I’m dolphinately rooting for Bernie. He’s salmon who moves with porpoise. He needs to fine-tuna his policies. What does he think about common coral? I think with a little mussel, he can crab the nomination. The race aincho-hvy (aint over) yet.
What whale this election mean for our future? Dystopian? Everyone dressed stingray? Scannable barracudas on every neck, canoe imagine?
Now let’s a picture a turtle 180. A future with flying carp and otter newt technologies. Keep urchin up! Don’t just want change. Beach change!
For those arriving lake, I’m krilling it up here. It cod’nt be better! I’m kraken myself up! I egret I have no moray to say! If you see me later, feel free to wave.
Below is a video of me presenting the punologue sitting down on a couch in my house.
NOTE: The audition process is a confidential event so, with the permission of the SF Neo-Futurists’ director, I will only be sharing the assignments and my pieces performed in this blog post. Also, these assignment descriptions are paraphrased.
I was called back for the second part of the audition: a creative workshop with 12 other auditioners and the SF Neo-Futurists team. In this two session event, the auditioners created new original pieces with stipulations to be performed and discussed.
Assignment 1: Before the first session, we had a few days’ notice to prepare a 2-minute play in the Neo-futuristic aesthetic and perform it at the first session. Added stipulations: the piece must use the specified word in some way. Not every auditioner had the same word, though some repeated. Mine was “floating.”
©2016 by Katarina Countiss
[The play starts with a black out. Katarina walks out onstage with a pink balloon attached to a pink silk ribbon that measures about 4 yards. The ribbon is in her mouth. The recording plays throughout the piece. The recording is an instrumental with a layer of clips from Katarina’s last therapy appointment, recorded and presented here with her therapist’s permission. The recording also has some dialogue which is in the script below. The light comes on after 5 seconds of Katarina moving slowly and subtly raising her arms. Katarina paces across the stage and lets out ribbon from her mouth; the balloon slowly rises. 1 minute later…]
Katarina: Okay. Hold up.
[The music and therapy track stops on the recording.]
Katarina: [addressing a higher part in the theatre, a space above the audience] This is from my therapy appointment, isn’t it?
Recording: You certainly sound sad in this session.
Katarina: Yeah. It’s not all bad though.
Recording: Here. Alright, I’m going to continue playing the track while you dance with a balloon on a possibly absurdly long string.
Katarina: Is this too personal?
Recording: Don’t worry. Just look at them.
[Katarina looks at Audience.]
Recording: The audience. They’re eating it up.
Katarina: [addressing a higher part in the theatre, a space above the audience] Are you sure?
Recording: No, I’m not sure. I’m a recording.
Katarina: Right, right. Touché.
Recording: Now, just a couple more bars and finish with a bow and I think that will be it.
[Music cues back up. Katarina puts the ribbon back into her mouth, dances more, letting out the ribbon more, grabbing it with her hands, pulling it out at its full length, getting wrapped into it, lowering herself to the ground, pulling the balloon down until it touches the ground as the music ends. Lights off.]
Assignment 2: Before the first session, we had a few days’ notice to prepare ourselves with a topical topic (a current event or topic that won’t be relevant in 3 months or so) to base a 2-minute play in the Neo-futuristic aesthetic and perform it at the second session. Added stipulations: the piece must use the other members of your team (there were three people in each team), write their roles with their individual voice/skills/perspective in mind. We had opportunities in the first session to get to know our team members, brief them with our chosen topics, give input and ask questions. At the end of the first session, another stipulation was added, different for each person. Mine was “audience interaction.”
The Nevada Convention 2016
©2016 by Katarina Countiss
[A folding chair is placed stage center in the very back of the stage. A waste basket is stage Front Left. Simon, Vanessa and Katarina stand in a row in stage center. Katarina holds a basket and open tray divided into two parts: one side has 12 blue M&M’s and the other side has 12 green M&M’s.]
Vanessa: [addressing the audience] I’d like 5 audience volunteers! Great. [She directs them to in front of the folding chair] Just stand in a line right here and face the audience, cross your arms, and look mean.
[Vanessa steps onto the chair and starts reading in an official tone, the rules of the Nevada Democratic Convention 2016 for the rest of the play.]
Katarina: [addressing Simon] I’m sorry. You are disqualified from the play. Just try not to get in our way.
[Simon goes to stage Back Left and tosses a crumpled up piece of paper, aiming for the wastebasket. He goes up to retrieve it and returns to stage Back Left and repeats this action for the rest of the play.]
Katarina: [addressing the audience] We’re going to have a little election. The blue M&M’s are for Hillary Clinton and the green M&M’s are for Bernie Sanders. To vote, you take the color M&M of the person you want to vote for and put it in this basket. Any questions?
[Katarina starts with audience Left, front row and offers the basket/tray to each audience member, going up the stairs and down each row, going down the stairs until everyone has had the opportunity to vote. Some might ask “What are the colors again?” Katarina is helpful and answers any questions to make sure the process is clear. Katarina returns to the stage and counts the M&M’s, then reaches into the basket and throws a small handful of M&Ms over her shoulder.]
Katarina: [addressing the audience] All those in favor of the play ending early, say aye! All opposed say neigh. Ayes have it!
Assignment 3: Assigned at the end of the second session– write a 10-30 second play based off a significant moment/day in your life. Imagine the sights, sounds, smells, touches, tastes, feelings, and emotions and consider recreating/reimagining/responding to these things in your piece. You can only use one line of text.
I Met My Partner at a Murder Mystery Party
©2016 by Katarina Countiss
[A folding chair is placed stage center in the very front of the stage, a couple of feet from front row. Katarina sits in it. She looks at the audience and opens up a clear glass bottle filled with a small amount (3 fingers) of water. She takes a swig from the bottle and closes it.]
Katarina: [addressing the audience, smiling, conversational in tone] He kept giving me this look… [Giving eye contact around the audience as if telling a story at a party]… like I was the killer… [Dramatic pause for effect] and I was.
Ultimately, I did not get invited to join the SF Neo-Futurists. I had a very great time getting to know other creative thespians in the Bay Area and seeing amazing new work done in the Neo-futurist style. I plan on auditioning again at the next opportunity and in the meantime, exploring this aesthetic more.
A big thanks to everyone who helped me prepare with facts about the Nevada Convention and the electoral process, to everyone who gave me feedback on my plays, to my teammates for performing perfectly, to the SF Neo-Futurists who saw something in my audition and invited me to callbacks and their administration of the best creative sessions I’ve ever been to. ❤