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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Theatre in a Van

Posted By on Wed, Jul 14, 2010 at 10:38 PM

By Jennifer Kilbourne

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Talk about taking the show on the road. Facing sky-high rents in New York City, actor Leon Pease, 23, decided to take his theater group to the streets and stay there. Last year, the group put on Bertolt Brecht’s The Elephant Calf in the back of a friend’s parents’ SUV. The show was a hit on the streets of Manhattan, filling all (both) available seats for every performance.

The troupe purchased a shortbus, renamed itself Theatre in a Van, and set off on a coast-to-coast tour, which stops in New Orleans on Saturday, July 17.

Interested passersby can pay $5 to see one of three original plays. The back of the van serves as a stage, and the bus can seat between 10 and 12 audience members per performance. Each show runs between 15 and 20 minutes.

In the timely musical The Big Spill, two musicians come up with a crackpot idea to save the Gulf. Musical accompaniment is provided by a guitar, tambourine, toy piano and melodophone. In a Choose Your Own Adventure twist, the audience gets to decide how the play ends.

Lint, which Pease describes as the most standard play in the lineup, is an “adult fairytale” about a dust bunny tired of the constant upheaval in the air duct where she lives. Coming of age, she ventures into the world outside the ventilation system she knows.

The dark comedy A Funeral Song for Duchess D follows two young concertgoers who confront sinister, abstinence-promoting sex symbols of the Disney star variety. Puppets also comprise part of its cast.

Though they haven’t nailed down exactly where they’ll park, Theatre in a Van targets high foot traffic areas. Pease is hoping to find the French Quarter parking.

The troupe’s long-term goal is to modify the bus’s engine to run on vegetable oil. For now, it’s outfitted with a solar panel which helps keep the battery charged and powers the cast’s cooking equipment. (Yes, they’re also living in the van.)

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