Brüka puts spotlight on original plays

Brüka Theatre tapped into its homegrown talent pool and produced a few fruits of its labors last Friday during a media night for its Eight @ Eight production.

Brüka’s artistic director, Scott Beers, was the emcee for the night, introducing each group and explaining how Brüka came up with the idea to do Eight @ Eight. He said that the original premise was for eight groups each to do an eight-minute skit in eight days. But as some members dropped out and group sizes decreased, Brüka decided to combine the remaining groups into three separate teams. Each one had eight days to create a half-hour play.

The first team, called 20 Questions, presented a charades-type performance, in which two people picked from a stack of randomly mixed cue cards. The cards contained written expressions or questions to relate to the action being performed by two people behind them. No one talked, except for a person acting as a timer who would alert the card bearers when the time was up with a “ding!” And when that person picked a card from their stack after hearing the “ding,” the written expression on the card would either cause a few puzzled looks in the audience or produce a bunch of laughter, because it strangely corresponded to the action on stage.

The third group, O, performed a more somber piece, in which an innocent-looking young man is in the process of creating something out of building blocks. But the message and pattern that he comes up with seems to confuse and agitate the people around him, prompting them to destroy his creation. The man-child writes down his observations in a book, and then starts creating his model again. A funny moment occurred during this skit when one character, acting as the man-child’s mother, cries out to another character, “He is the fruit of my loom,” after which she quickly corrected herself with “fruit of my womb.” It took a while for the audience’s laughter to die down.

The second group, Unraveled, probably got the most response from the crowd. In this performance, the action begins with a group of sweater-obsessed folks rapturously dancing with their knitted creations and writhing about until finally getting the sweaters on their bodies. The scene then moves to the meeting of a sweater appreciation society, which is planning the agenda and getting ready for the next big sweater convention. As the group crosses off the items on its list, several of its members occasionally drift away into their sweater fantasies, often touching and caressing their fuzzy apparel, coming back to reality after being caught in the act. The skit ends with the group once again dancing and crawling out of their sweaters, this time to the sounds of Weezer’s “Undone: The Sweater Song” and to the applause of an amused audience.

After the night’s entertainment concluded, Beers told the audience (which seemed to consist more of friends than media types) that when Eight @ Eight opens to the public this week, the skits might be slightly altered or improved a bit from the performances seen that night.

Eight @ Eight will open at 8 p.m. March 1-3 at Brüka Theatre’s Sub-Brüka space, 99 N. Virginia St. Tickets are $7 in advance and $10 at the door. Call 323-3221.