The mutant messiah

Not something you would want in an Aquarium with
Experimental theater. There’s a niche in Chico that hasn’t been filled for quite a while, and that is for a space that allows, facilitates and nutures “experimental” theater, music and film. Much has been said about the late ‘80s in town, when seemingly an explosion of talent arrived apparently out of nowhere. The foci of much of this hullabaloo were the Burro Room (later Juanita’s) and the Butcher Shop (later the Blue Room). I believe that it was the intention to give new ideas a chance that was the driving force behind the founders of these spaces (Mike Oliver, Syb Blythe, the Latimers). And it was this intention that created what many consider the glory days of the Chico arts scene.

New things are often hard to digest; like walnuts in the winter, they tend to sit in the gullet, slowly releasing their compact nutrients. I recently witnessed a brand-new play called The Doome Fish, written by local talents Haley Hughes and Ed Gillespie, that exemplified the notion of experimental theater. Written on Monday (and rewritten till showtime), cast on Tuesday, set-designed on Wednesday, rehearsed on Thursday and given over to panic on Friday, it was thrown together on Saturday in an unparalleled dash of wits and ingenuity. The Doome Fish played to about 70 stunned friends, family and community people who happened to walk by the right place at the right time.

Through metaphor and forced visual impact, The Doome Fish created a dreamlike vision that vacillated between heaven and horror. In Christian symbolism the fish represents Jesus Christ and, true to prophecy, the Doome Fish appeared carrying a sword. “The Messiah is coming,” crowed the orange-domed actor Eli Bird, “but to what end, to what end?”

Also new on the scene is the demo CD by locals The Terminal Wasteband. Produced by Kelly Bauman (Deathstar, North Magnetic), the demo is a sophisticated arrangement of tight pop vocals and clever instrumentals. The band is also interested in creating nights where found film footage and local cinematic masteries are projected while the band creates new and momentary soundtracks.

And be sure to catch the rough-and-tumble Asskickers as they play Doc’s Clock in SF on Sunday, Jan. 27th!