Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Rise Of The Numberless (The New Colony and Bailiwick Chicago)

True Story:
A few years ago, while I was moving, I lost my Social Security card and passport. All I had was my expired driver's license. So when I went to the DMV to get it renewed, they ripped it up in my face and told me that it was illegal to have it. So there I was with 0 identification. I went to get a Social Security card and they told me I needed a photo ID. I went to get a photo ID and they told me I needed a Social Security card.
They told me my one hope to get back into regular society was to get a copy of my high school transcripts sent up form Kentucky, but when I asked for them, the lady on the phone asked me to fax over a copy of my photo id.
So, I went to my Alderman and explained my situation. After about 2 weeks of checking, they told me there was nothing they could do, and that I was on my own.
For 2 years, I lived with no identification besides a birth certificate, because there is no way to receive one piece of paper without having another.
Eventually, I discovered a law that was made for people born in the early 1900's in Mississippi. You see, in a small region of Mississippi, all the old records were held in a church and about 20 years ago, there was a fire. That fire destroyed many people's original birth certificates making it impossible for them to get passports. So Congress passed a law allowing for you to go to a post office and fill out about 10 pieces of paper and take along someone who has known you for more than 5 years who is willing to swear to your identity, and then you can get on a list for possible approval for a passport. But that is the only way. Well, when I explained this to the lady at the post office, she of course had never heard of this law and told me to kindly go fuck myself.
On my second visit, I arrived with papers and mother ready to not take no for an answer. She was persuaded to allow it, after many calls to passport headquarters.
3 years I lived without ID. Off the grid. 3 years of being numberless.

There is an original play going on right now in Chicago by BoxWine Theatre Company called "Rise Of The Numberless: The Anderson Lawfer Story". It is mainly about my rise. It is pretty good, but I am not sure how they got this information from me. Well, I was watching it, and everyone is pretty good in it, but then on the bus ride home, I was flipping through the Red Eye and I heard about  whole separate play in town called "Rise Of The Numberless" which apparently had nothing to do with the play about me at all!

Well, this I had to see!

Rise Of The Numberless is co-produced by 2 extremely popular companies in town. The New Colony, known for their devised work and college kid go-get-em-ness and The Bailiwick Chicago, known to us older gentlemen as a place for straight guys to get naked on stage for gay guys. I don't think Bailiwick is like that anymore, but let us never forget our past lest we repeat it.

This play is about this group of roustabouts and tramps who cruise through the USA telling their story of how they became these vagrant bums.

Turns out, they live in the future where there is a one child law. Except instead of penalizing the parents, like how they do in China, they penalize the kids by sending them down the river like Moses. But these Moseses don't become Kings of Jews or build any arks. These Moseses play rock and roll music and bang each other like high schoolers!


See, all the regular people have these computer chips in their arms, and that is how you know who is legit and who isn't, because this gang of Walkalongs don't have any chips. They got nothing but the shirts on their backs and the glam rock makeup on their faces.

Now we learn that there are groups, or "pods" of numberless people all over the country but we stay with the Washington DC Pod for the whole show. I wish we got to see other pods, because I bet the Catskills Pod wears big bowties and tells old jokes. I bet the Branson Pod gets a lot of visitors with their Jesus loving country music shows!

But this DC Pod is ok, too.

So, this pod has been accused of assassinating the President of the United States, I think. Or they were accused? No, I think they are accused of it. So they are trying to get their story out to the masses that they aren't terrorists, but rather, your brothers and sisters. They are part of your family and all they want is to see you again and be loved. Also, they want to sing in tight harmonies and put on plays!

Now, I am a big fan of The Temptations and The Four Tops, and I have to tell you that if you are going to spend all this time on your tight harmonies, it wouldn't kill you to add a few dance moves. You know who else has dance moves with their tight harmonies? The Detroit Pod.

The music in this show is great. It's a little bit Hedwig, a little bit Dark Side Pink Floyd, and a little bit Scissor Sisters. Basically, it's everything you want to hear.

It was written by some dude with a ponytail and this lady I think. They can't give you press packets because they are on the run from the law, but I saw those 2 people there, so I will assume they wrote it.

The cast is supreme. All of them can sing, and they move around the way you want a cast to move. They work as a group, like a recently oiled, grubby, post apocalyptic clock.

Since there were no names for the actors in the program, I will have to do my best with telling you whom I thought were stand outs.

The incredible Nikki Klix plays the stage manager of the show, I think? But she is also an actor in the show within the show, too. She has the best hair for rocking. Her voice soars like a California Condor above the bleak desert in California. The frightful Mexican wrestler-ish Aaron Alonso plays this guy with a top hat that that is very watchable, mainly because you always want to keep track of your belongings around Mexicans, but also because he as this super live energy that is fun and playful. It is very important to be playful in times like these.

There is also the trifecta of excitement with Michael Peters as an ex-football star, Danny Taylor as a white lipped Temptress, and Michael Harnichar as a guy who is maybe not real? I'm not sure what the story was with him. I think his character is only in someone's imagination or something. He was good, though, real or not.

If you get caught up wondering about the story, you will lose track of what is so cool about this show. It is total immersion, from the moment you walk to the building till the time you leave.

This is what Chicago Theatre is supposed to be. Gritty, punkrock, in your face, Guerilla style Art that makes your hair stand up on your neck and your balls shrink up into your abdomen. Or your vagina.

I loved it because it made me inspired.

I felt like I saw something that was new and interesting and arresting.

We all need to see and perform in shows like this, so we don't forget why we decided to join this stupid industry in the first place.

They have booze there, too.


-Anderson Lawfer, Eric Roach 



1 comment:

  1. This is my favorite review of this show. Is the production perfect? No, but it's fun and loud and the tunes are great. Sometimes it's okay to go to the theater and just have a good time and dance around a little bit. The folks at Bailiwick Chicago and The New Colony certainly aren't asking you to give it anymore weight than that. It's a classic game of 'yes, and...' where you get to drink beer and watch cute people jump around on stage singing their faces off. Your review is pitch perfect. Thanks, guys!