Old Subject, New Satire: CampBoHoGro! to Premiere at Dream Up Festival

Old Subject, New Satire

“CampBoHoGro!” is a surprise: it’s a satire about American politics that isn’t about Donald Trump!

In a time when Americans are anxious and rife with deep and divisive opinions regarding the upcoming presidential election, a play that looks back on past American presidents and satirizes their vices and image is a refreshing treat. There will be no Trump, Sanders or Clinton here. Instead, “CampBoHoGro!” looks back to the 60’s, satirizing past presidents like Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.

CampBoHoGro! Press Photo2 Pictured L-R Rachel Kerry Bianca Kenna

“Camp BoHoGro” devised by Brain melt Consortium. New York, June 25th 2016. Pictured L-R: Rachel Kerry, Bianca Kenna, Jessie Winograd, and Connor Prickett. Photo by Caitlin Ronan.

Co-creators Rachel Kerry and Jessie Winograd said that they first drew inspiration from a photograph of Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon and many other powerful men at the Bohemian Grove camp. The political and economic behemoths allegedly discussed politics and business in secrecy around a red-checkered table cloth. “We found the picture really compelling,” Winograd said, “though we are taking inspiration from real life characters, we are taking great liberties with historical events.”

The story revolves around several smaller interactions and events in the titular summer camp “CampBoHoGro!”The characters Nancy and Ayn (based on Nancy Reagan and Ayn Rand), denied entry to the men-only encampment, accidentally summon a demon spirit of the redwoods, Molochia, whose unbridled femininity threatens to destroy the camp.Meanwhile, Dick (based on Richard Nixon) and Ronny (based on Ronald Reagan) are in a bitter rivalry over the lead position in the camp’s Our Free World Pageant. PBJ (based on LBJ) is engaging in sadistic displays of power and dominance over his friend and subordinate Hubie (based on Hubert Humphrey). All the while, Hippies and journalists infiltrate the camp and add further existential threats. It’s up to the men of BoHoGro to band together to save their camp and their country.

While the play may not be a historically accurate account or representative of any of the politicians it satirizes, “CampBoHoGro!” serves as particularly potent satire about inclusion and exclusion in a time of political instability. Today, just like in 1967, America is involved in unpopular wars across the globe, the political systems corrupt and exclusive to a select elite and social unrest is widespread and vigorous, demanding everything from justice to racial and gender equality to government transparency.

CampBoHoGro! Press Photo3 Pictured Jessie Winograd Photo Credit

Pictured: Jessie Winograd as Dick. Photo by Caitlin Ronan.

Gender is also a significant theme of the play. Historically, Bohemian Grove has not accepted women into the camp. The cast responded to this by having all the main characters who were in actuality male be portrayed by women, and all the characters who were in actuality women be portrayed by men. The subject of male dominance and hegemony in American politics is also addressed in this manner, contributing to the overarching themes of a division between the government elite and the citizenry.

“I would say (to the audience) to be open,” Winograd said, not just to the themes of gender and political satire that makeup the backbone of the performance, but to the possibility of serious truth to coexist with the extremely silly and the patently false.

“CampBoHoGro!” is directed by Rachel Kerry, and is a devised work of theater by the Brain Melt Consortium. The Brain Melt Consortium is a name you may recognize from their past production of “A Spectacular Night with the Stars” at TNC and their play “Seven Fragments” which won the award for Best Video Design at the 2016 FRIGID Festival. BMC develops their plays via an abstract method: they decide upon a few distinct characters and plot points first and develop them to completion before writing the script. “Brain Melt Consortium’s process is a little bit like a role-playing game,” Winograd said, “We do our own research into our own characters and build our reality that way…we do a lot of improvisation together to find the nuances in the relationships between the characters.”

“CampBoHoGro!” will premiere at TNC as part of the Dream Up Festival on September 9 at 9:00 PM in the Johnson Theater. For a full performance schedule, ticket prices, and more info about the play or the festival, please visit http://www.dreamupfestival.org. For more information about the Brain Melt Consortium, please visit http://www.brainmeltconsortium.com.

Stay beautiful, America!

By Tim Esteves

Dream Up Returns

The annual Dream Up Festival returns to Theater for the New City for its newest season. The Festival annually presents fifteen to twenty new works of theater, with participants from genres of drama, comedy, musicals, experimental theater, physical theater, dance, and staged journalism and non-fiction plays. This year, the Dream Up festival has a range of enticing and challenging new works. Here’s a preview of some of the particularly interesting ideas that crossed our desk.

The play “Alpha 66” by Robby Ramos is a drama set in a Cuban prison during the Cuban Missile Crisis in the 1960s. It follows the story of Papo, a pro-Castro revolutionary as he is Alpha66postercalled into the prison in order to interrogate his brother, Rafa, who stands accused of distributing posters of Che Guevara in drag. A work of historical fiction, “Alpha 66” raises questions about duty and family, and how long the bonds of loyalty can hold out under pressure from an omnipotent, oppressive regime. The play arrives at an interesting time, considering a resurgent interest in Cuban culture and politics, following the easing of travel and trading restriction imposed upon the island nation by the United States for nearly half a century. Audiences are invited to view the workings of the Cuban government from the viewpoint of a family caught up in it, all while enjoying newly imported Cuban rum and cigars (finally!).

Another notable participant is “The Joint,” a musical with book by Curtis Jones. This play is set in 1960s Virginia, and features a rocking soundtrack reminiscent of the times. The story follows the young Corrida trying to get back on her feet after a failed career as a singer in New York. She is dragged into a web of secrets, intrigue and romance under the roof of The Joint, a juke club located under her house that has become a point of gathering for the community. With music composed by Timothy Graphenreed of “The Wiz” and choreography by industry veteran and tony award winner Kenneth L. Roberson, “The Joint” promises to be a wild and lively ride through the 1960s.

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“Missamma” performed in Dallas, Texas on March 27, 2016. L-R: Gayathria Kandadai, Kalyani Siddhartha, Rajeswari Udayagiri, Vijaya Bhaskar Rayavaram, Uttej Akupatni. Photo by Bytegraph Productions.

 

“Missamma” is a play written and performed in Telugu, a South Indian Language, with English subtitles, based off the 1955 movie of the same name. “Missamma” follows the story of two Indian immigrants of different religions in 1970s America, who, in order to find employment, must pretend to be a married couple. As the plot thickens, the two begin to develop feelings for one another, while a local detective uncovers a secret that changes their lives forever. Written as a comedy, the play is a family production, accessible to English-speaking audience with humor that is inspired by film legend Charlie Chaplin.

Ivette Dumeng as Charlie Chaplin

“The Chaplin Plays” Ivette Dumeng as Charlie Chaplin. Photo courtesy of Nylon Fusion Theatre Company.

Speaking of Charlie Chaplin, Dream Up is also presenting “The Chaplin Plays: A Double Feature,” by Don Nigro. Performed by Ivette Dumeng of the Nylon Fusion Theatre Company, “The Chaplin Plays” present two new short plays featuring the likeness of everybody’s famous tramp, bowler hat and mustache and all. Both plays explore the question of identity, and follow Chaplin’s ideas about life, death and, oddly enough, monkeys from Siberia. Abandon everything you thought you knew about Chaplin before strolling into this production.

All of these plays will premiere as part of the Dream Up Festival 2016 at Theater for the New City. We invite you to join us from August 28 to September 18 for these plays and more! For information about scheduling, ticket prices, and performance reservations, please visit http://www.dreamupfestival.org.

See you then, and never stop dreaming!

By Tim Esteves