The New Colony Artistic Director, Andrew Hobgood thinks lesbians are funny. And nuclear holocaust. And quiche. But then, who doesn’t, really? Originally a seven-minute sketch which stole the show at Collaboraction’s 2010 Sketchbook, Five Lesbians Eating A Quiche tells the story of The Susan B Anthony Society for the Sisters of Gertrude Stein, who, when catastrophe strikes, find themselves responsible for America’s future. Due to audience demand, the show is back, and more absurd than ever.
Our Town Describe the show.
Andrew Hobgood Whenever we're asked, "What's it about?" it's always fun to deadpan back, "five lesbians eating a quiche." But the show is really a dark absurdist comedy exploring America's obsessive over-active imagination which has fueled both the greatest achievements of the country and our greatest embarrassments. It tackles our sense of adventure, our fears, our idealism and our country's relationship with devout belief in a religious body. However, we take it one step further. To make the audience understand that they are just as much a part of the American persona, we have created a fully realized environmental experience. The audience walks in and is immediately treated like they are one of the fellow sisters of the society, all women in 1956.
OT What originally inspired the piece?
AH A couple years ago, during a New Colony party, Sarah Gitenstein, who is directing this show, jokingly gave me a pen and a notebook and told me to write down the title of a show The New Colony would produce someday. And as any well-intoxicated Artistic Director would, I wrote the first thing that popped in my head and found myself committing to it before I'd processed the absurdity.
OT Why remount it?
AH To develop our shows, [we ask] the actors to create their characters well beyond the needs of the script. The more that they have in their heads; the more realized the show is. The Sketchbook version could only be seven minutes; however, the cast developed enough material for a twenty-five minute show. Then reviewers and audience members started asking when we were going to do the full-length production, and then it won the Audience Favorite award at Sketchbook. This is the first New Colony show ever produced due to audience demand.
OT What went into developing it into a full-length show?
AH All the creative team members and cast [went] back into their notebooks and pulled material we’d cut from the seven minute version. The show became about specifically these five women, and what happens to them after they realize that America has been nuked.
OT How does FLEQ jibe with New Colony’s artistic mission?
AH The most valued part of our mission is the goal of attracting and educating a new arts-supporting audience. When theater is competing against film and television, we try to seek out the experiences that are impossible to recreate on film. So this show's fully realized environmental approach, performed in real-time, integrates the audience into the piece. Even though it takes place in the 50's, we work to align the vernaculars, thoughts and feelings of that period and our current times to make it emotionally and intellectually accessible. We want audiences to look at a lesbian in 1956 and say, "I totally know her!”
OT What’s it like to work both as a business consultant and in the theater?
AH Art needs structure to succeed. Business needs creativity to succeed. And both tend to believe they don't need the other. That's [how] my consulting career was born. I solve theater problems with my business expertise and I broaden businesses' imaginations to help them launch to the next level. Really, all artists are entrepreneurs. Most don't think of themselves that way. But that's the truth. You're your own boss. You handle your own marketing. You handle your own money. You handle your own sales. I wish theater departments in colleges would inspire a love of business in their students. They are doing a huge disservice by not making entrepreneurial passion, strategy, and business management a key take-away for any theater graduate. Hopefully I'll get to see that happen. And hot damn I'd love for TNC and me to be a part of that change.
Five Lesbians Eating a Quiche runs June 23rd through July 30th. Go here to purchase tickets.
A writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Terez Rosenblum freelances for a number of web sites and print publications. Her debut novel, “Herself When She’s Missing," is forthcoming from Counter Point Press. She is also a figure model, Spinning instructor and teacher at Chicago’s StoryStudio. Inevitably one day she will find herself lecturing naked on a spinning bike. She's kind of looking forward to it actually.
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