‘Expect the unexpected’: TBD’s fall show blends audience participation into its Neo-Futurist-inspired plays


Seeger Gray/Daily Senior Staffer

TBD premiered its fall show, “You Got Gunked … Woah,” for three performances this weekend.

Maia Pandey, Print Managing Editor

About halfway through TBD’s show Saturday, Britney Spears’ “Work Bitch” blasted through Shanley Pavilion’s speakers, vibrating the floor as cast members roused the crowd to rush the stage and dance.

Soon, the standing room-only crowd was jumping and shouting alongside members of the Neo-Futurism-inspired performance group. It wasn’t until the cast members shouted “Thank you,” which signals the end of every short play in a TBD show, that the crowd subdued.

Communication sophomore Aidan Klinges, who wrote that short play, said he wanted the moment to model a pop-up nightclub. Since most TBD shows are held in Fisk Hall, Klinges said the group also wanted to take advantage of the more intimate Shanley space for its show, “You Got Gunked … Woah.”

“I just sort of rolled with it and started spinning with glow balls,” Klinges said. “I really wanted to do something where we could get the whole audience involved.”

All short plays in a TBD show are written by cast members and presented in a different order each performance. Before the play begins, several audience members are handed sheets of paper with numbers corresponding to a play and then tasked with randomly taping them up on the wall to determine the order. 

The plays are also nonfiction and non-illusory, so each cast member plays themself onstage. 

The mix of introspective and offbeat plays, combined with the random order, results in the “emotional whiplash” key to a TBD show, according to Communication sophomore Jeff Snedegar.

During one of his plays, Snedegar asked the audience if anyone needed to use the bathroom and then accompanied a random member to the bathroom. As they took turns using the facilities, Snedegar called into the speakers on the main stage.

“We never know what play is going to come next,” he said. “That leads to the ability to do a resonant play…straight into me peeing on a microphone.”

Along with a bathroom break, audience members had other opportunities to participate. In one play, the audience scanned a QR code and voted on which cast member they thought would be most likely to cheat on a partner. The members who ranked first and last place then clasped hands and exchanged compliments.

Klinges said he especially advocated for this play to make it into the show, with the goal of examining “problematic questions” reminiscent of reality television.

“What I really liked about it was at the end, instead of being like, ‘Oh no, this is how we value ourselves,’ the two people turned to each other and just had an honest conversation about the things they liked about each other,” Klinges said.

The promise of a slightly different show each time compelled Communication sophomore Ella Gatlin to attend two of TBD’s three performances this weekend. Gatin said she encourages anyone who hasn’t seen a TBD show to catch the next one.

“Expect the unexpected and be willing to just let the performance take you where it’s going to take you,” she said, “Because that’s really what it’s about — trying new things and being truthful.”

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Twitter: @maiapandey

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