Normally we're urged to keep our minds out of the gutter, but, starting this weekend and running through the next two, the folks over at the Nightingale Theater have given us permission to go ahead and go there. They are, after all, getting it on with their newest production, written, performed and produced by the 50 Swats collective, called "Dirty Thoughts."
The 50 Swats collective is well-known around these parts for its unique and edgy short-form, high-impact brand of theatre. This show will take the crew even further to the edge with its erotica-themed content. But, said 50 Swats member and actor in the show John Cruncleton, it may not be what you think. While some of the content is based on the idea of stimulation or arousal, the majority of the show is not.
"The point of the show is not as much to create arousal as to examine the perspective of sexual psychology and intellect," said Cruncleton. "While there is some direct take on erotica, most of the show is an examination of the mechanics of desire, lust and sexuality.
"There's a real variety of tone. Some is comic, some disturbing, some provocative and some casual."
Cruncleton called the overall style of "Dirty Thoughts" is "neo-realistic . . . with an emphasis on character and daily life."
The last few productions staged by 50 Swats have been performed as a series of monologues ("Eight Reindeer Monologues, "Humans"), but "Dirty Thoughts" incorporates the monologues with two and three-person dialogues and one piece involving all nine members of the cast.
The cast includes Angela Adams, Sara Cruncleton, Kaycee Johnson, Heather Sams, Julie Seals, Cassie Harris, John Cruncleton, Joseph Gomez and Jason Watts. Cruncleton said, though the unbalanced ratio of men to women was not planned, it does provide the show with a unique, female-based perspective of erotica, one which isn't often heard.
Amber Whitlatch, who is also a member of 50 Swats (though not performing in this production) and co-owner of the Nightingale, explained the interesting way the writer's collective works. The collective considers itself a sort of beehive, and when one of the members is inspired to put together a show, he or she takes on the persona of the "Queen Bee Dramaturge."
The Queen Bee, in one mysterious way or another, contacts the rest of the hive, giving them the theme and a deadline, and the hive produces a piece of work by that deadline, turning it in anonymously. Then the group decides as a hive which pieces will be incorporated into the show, auditions actors from within the group, and begins rehearsals.
Even as the group is rehearsing, though, the hive doesn't know until opening night, when they see the program, who wrote the pieces in the show and in what order they will be performed.
Neither Whitlatch nor Cruncleton would tell me who the Queen Bee was for "Dirty Thoughts," but Cruncleton said that the theme of erotica was one that all members of 50 Swats could relate to and be inspired by.
"It's an easily digestible theme to go in all different directions with," Cruncleton said. "From comedy to tragedy, sex is at the root of much of both."
50 Swats has a way of pushing the envelope with everything they do, making the audience feel uncomfortable at times in order to provoke thought, and you'd better believe this show will be no exception.
The show starts at 8pm this Thurs., Fri.
and Sat., June 14 through 16, and continues June 22 and 23 and June 29 and 30. (Thursday night's show is a preview.) The Nightingale is at 1416 E. 4th St., between Utica and Peoria. Tickets are $5 for the preview and $8 for all other shows. For more info, go to www.midwestertheater.org
Sugar and Spice
Saturday, June 16 and Friday and Saturday, June 22 and 23, "Dirty Thoughts" will be followed by "Candy Land," a burlesque performance by the ladies of Eye Candy Burlesque.
Eye Candy is one of a couple of burlesque troupes in Tulsa, though it's arguably the best known and most successful. Katrina Lofgren, also known as "Momere," the emcee of the group, said the troupe got together about a year ago as an offshoot of the all-female comedy troupe, SuperOVUM.
Right now, the troupe consists of four ladies: Katerina the Naughty Ballerina, Lu Foxx, Savonne the Minx and Momere. "Candy Land" will feature guest singer Xanaboobs
"Candy Land" is about the different stages in a woman's life, said Lofgren, like "marriage, love, falling in love, being dissed by love and being alone." And she said Eye Candy Burlesque appeals as much to women as it does to men.
"It's more of a fun, flirty, feminine expression of sexuality," she said. "We get to have fun with our sexuality and make it light and airy. We live in a very puritan society, and we don't have near as much freedom with our sexuality as Europe and other places -- except maybe the Mideast; those girls are covered head to toe. But Americans don't enjoy sex as much as Europeans do, so we're just helping out."
Lofgren explained, though, that watching a burlesque strip tease is a lot different that walking into your local gentleman's club. Eye Candy provides a vaudevillian-style act, with comedy and choreographed and rehearsed dances, rather than just dangling from a pole. And they still try to leave a lot up to the imagination. That's the tease part.
Each show begins at 10pm at Nightingale, and tickets (you have to buy them separately from "Dirty Thoughts") are $8. As "Momere" said, it'll be a night of "high quality tits and ass."
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