Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Retelling The Simpsons for Mr. Burns

Mr. Burns, a post-electric play is up and running at the fantastic Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Washington, DC, and it's going great! In case you haven't read about it yet, here's the description:
Armageddon has struck and the grid is down: no TV, no radio, no internet—how will life go on? For one group of tenacious survivors, sitting around a fire and reminiscing about The Simpsons proves to be the greatest escape from despair. Miraculously, from their collective memories, a new industry struggles to be born: a crude theatrical re-creation of the digital culture we can’t possibly live without.
What did this play's investigative process look like? We've got info about that on the Woolly Mammoth Blog HERE. The first act of the play is drawn from a workshop that playwright Anne Washburn and director Steve Cosson led in 2008, wherein our artists tried to recreate the Cape Feare episode of The Simpsons from memory. They also did improv exercises where they had to list names of people they were searching for in the aftermath of the apocalypse.

Another exercise that they did, following the recreation exercise, was that they had to retell the episode to each other. We've got a transcript from that exercise! It's fascinating to read through and see how it morphs in each different telling. Plus if you know the episode really well, you can go through to see which details stick through the retellings even though they weren't in the original episode (hint: was Sideshow Bob writing the notes in ketchup or blood?).

For example, here is a look at how even the description of a relatively small detail morphs in its retelling:

Matt Maher tells the episode with Jenny Morris and Maria Dizzia:
MM:  the second the Deniro  it’s a spoof of the Deniro so it’s like it’ll be he’ll open a letter and suddenly it’ll be like a smash cut on a letter like” I’m going to kill you Bart!” Oiiiing! and then like widen out and then at one point he’s got all of the letters on the kitchen table and it’s an overhead shot of all the letters and it’s like womp womp – well  yeah that’s the sound, that’s the -- whomp whomp wom wom wom -- and it’s all of them sitting around the kitchen table and it’s like  ‘die Bart die I’m going to kill you Bart dah dadh dah dah dah’ and then’s like one written in pen and he’s like this one is written in pen and  Homer’s like oh I wrote that one because when (laughs tumultuously)  when when ah Bart ‘oh I wrote that one because for that time when Bart tattooed this on my butt’ and he like pulls down his pants and his butt is tattooed with the word ‘wide load’ (laughter) and the whole family is like: ‘ahh!’ and starts laughing laughing for like a really weirdly long time Marge, Lisa, the baby are just like:  ha ha ha-ha-ha… it’s very…I just thought it was funny that they would  just take a break from the episode to laugh at Homer anyway...
Then Maria Dizzia and Jenny Morris tell the episode with help from Matt Maher:
MD:  so then he goes home, then he goes home and he puts them all on the kitchen table and they’re all in blood except for one is in pen and do they say who wrote this one?
MM:  this one’s written in different
MD:  this one’s written in different, this ones written in pen -- and Homer says ‘Oh I
wrote that one’ and they say ‘why’ – does he ask why?  Laughs assent Why
MD:  and he goes: oh that’s from when Bart tattooed this on my butt and he pulls his
pants down and it says ‘wide load’ and the family laughs for, 6 minutes
(laughs) MM:  for an inordinately long time
MD:  for an inordinately long time, um – and then from there?
Then Maria Dizzia and Jenny Morris tell the episode to Quincy Tyler Bernstine, Sam Breslin Wright, and Colleen Werthmann:
MD: and this one says die Bart die and Homer says oh, I wrote that one
MD: and they’re like why and he’s like oh I wrote this after Bart tattooed this on my butt and he pulls his pants down and it says Wide Load
JM: and the Simpsons the whole family is like laughing laughing laughing laughing and then
MD: for like a really really long time
JM: for a really long time
Take a look at more HERE!

And if you want to, record yourself trying to recreate the episode and send it over to us! No cheating - you can't watch the episode first!

Check out our amazing reviews!

"As inexhaustibly original as the animated series that inspired it, the kookily brilliant “Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play” is the sort of once-in-a-blue-moon show that stays stuck in your brain long after it has chilled you to the bone."

"It’s a witty, bizarre, thoroughly riveting inquiry into the comforting -- some might say confounding -- durability of pop culture, as well as a rather sweet exploration of storytelling and how our innocence as a species is rekindled every time we retell or revise an old tale."

- Peter Marks, The Washington Post

4.5 Stars of 5
- DC Metro Theater Arts

"Through a prism of pop culture references and Kelsey Grammer impressions, Washburn reveals our primal human need for entertainment, as well as the hope seemingly banal works can offer."
- Washingtonian

For tickets to the show running through July 1, CLICK HERE!

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