Ongoing - Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind at SAFEhouse for the Performing Arts. Once upon a time (in 1988, to be precise) a scrappy Chicago theater group decided they would write 30 very-short plays and try to perform them all in the space of an hour. They called the resulting show Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind and devised a few rules: it would always involve the audience (which yells out the next number to be performed off the play "menu" and therefore determines a new order to the show each night), it would always be changing (brand new plays cycle in each week), it would always be honest. The Neo-Futurists, as the group dubbed themselves, have been wowing crowds with Too Much Light ever since, and in 2014 some Bay Area theater peeps were inspired to found the SF Neo-Futurists and start writing and performing their own version of the show.
I first saw a performance two years ago and was blown away by how original and hilarious and yes honest Too Much Light was, and after checking in again recently (in the SF Neos' 140th week) I am pleased to report absolutely none of that has changed. To give just a random sampling of the plays on my particular night, one moment two characters acted out a scene from The Little Mermaid in the style of David Mamet, and the next ensemble member Willie Caldwell narrated his "Guide to Safe and Efficient San Francisco Transversal" (hint: headphones are key), before Jessie Alsop performed "A retelling of the time I found a dead guy floating next to my boat, in the style of Courtney Barnett" on her guitar, and then the whole cast had me in tears with "Two and a half minutes of silence for Terence Crutcher." The pieces vary wildly in tone, and that's the brilliance of it. Thanks to the utter commitment by the cast members (who somehow make it all look easy) Too Much Light manages to not merely hang together but to transcend the sum of its parts. The SF Neo-Futurists give me experimental theater just the way I want it: sharp as hell and teetering on the edge of total chaos.