The Ko Festival in Massachusetts finishes up with a piece called “A Comic Strip.”
This got us to thinking: what comic strips have been turned into stage plays?
Li’l Abner: caught the movie version on TV one rainy afternoon a few years back. It’s actually pretty fun. Manages to look like a comic strip, actually. From 1959. The original Broadway production ran for almost 2 years in 1956. Go Dogpatch.
Doonesbury: This one ran on Broadway for 104 performances, which isn’t bad, but isn’t anything to write home about either. The cast recording and script are long out of print, although you can find the LP on eBay, as well as the script, though you’ll have to pay too much for the latter. We say stick with the original strips.
BATMAN: The Musical has been kicking around for awhile but has yet to see the light of day. Read The Dark Knight Returns to tide you over. Actually, read The Dark Knight Returns and skip the show if it ever does appear, unless you are a massive Meatloaf fan (Loafer Jim Steinman is writing the music for the singing, dancing Dark Knight). (When you’re Bruce Wayne, you’re Bruce Wayne all the way, from your first grappling hook, to your last dying daaaay….)
None of this, by the way, has anything to do with the Ko Fest’s offering. Press release is below, if you’re in Mass or will be, go check this out and let us know what you think.
The Award-Winning Touchstone Theatre’s Dark Comedy A Comic Strip Closes the Ko Festival of Performance’s 15th Anniversary Season
A Comic Strip
By the Touchstone Ensemble,
Directed by Daniel Stein of the Dell’ Arte Company of Blue Lake, CA
In Touchstone’s brand-new, dark and funny work, the life of a seasoned, successful, and world famous comic-strip artist begins to violently unravel. How can art possibly inspire change in a world so filled with very real suffering? He almost gives up, until his favorite comic strip characters manifest before his eyes and lead him on a life-changing journey. Warning! Viewer Discretion Advised! This piece contains adult themes, graphic language, strong sexual content, the devil himself, and a healthy dose of broccoli. Think Looney Tunes meets David Lynch. But keep the kids with a babysitter.
Meet Phil Krevice, a once-popular comic strip artist, as he comes face-to-face with one of the hairiest pickles he’s ever encountered: How does one find humor in a world that is so full of tragedy? Driven to the bottom of the barrel – rejected by his stripper ex-girlfriend, shunned by the rest of the comic art world, and bested by Jeff Friendly, the newest and hottest comic strip artist, he stands on the brink of drawing his last frame – until Virgil, a long-abandoned creation, comes to his rescue, taking him on a hair-raising journey through the underworld. It is there, in the most unexpected of places, that Phil begins laughing again and gets back to his drawing board.
Directed by Daniel Stein, Guggenheim Fellow and internationally acclaimed artist who is one of the guiding lights behind the renowned Dell’ Arte Company of Blue Lake, CA, A Comic Strip is Touchstone Theatre’s newest ensemble piece. Lauren Wilson wrote segments of the play, along with Bill George, co-founder of Touchstone. The nature of ensemble-based theatre, however, is that everyone has a direct hand in the creation of the piece, and in the case of A Comic Strip, some of the those pieces are puppets fashioned from newspaper.
When asked what it was like to have an actor’s hand inside of oneself for hours at a time, AwePhooey, one of the newspaper puppets, had this to say: “For me, the whole process has really been about letting the performed action be a collaborative one, because after all without that helping hand I admit I just wouldn’t be that fun to watch.”
Additional collaborators include cast member creators Max Gash, Vicki Haller, Mark McKenna, and JP Jordan, who also led the design of the set, lights, and sound.
This season Touchstone celebrates 25 years of original, professional, actor-created theatre!
The company is dedicated to being an active force in the renewal of theatre as a vital art form. It is a resident professional acting Ensemble rooted in both the local community of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and the international community of the actor/creator.
Founded in the mid-1970’s, Touchstone’s founding members were part of a series of improvisational bilingual street theatre troupes made up of professional artists, university students, local teachers and teens. These troupes brought an immediate and intimate form of theatre to neighborhoods and parks in order to acknowledge, engage and celebrate low-income Latino and Anglo populations.
In 1987 Touchstone renovated an abandoned 19th century firehouse into an intimate 72-seat home theatre still rooted on Bethlehem’s multi-ethnic, multi-lingual South Side where the founders lived and performed. Touchstone evolved into a regional theatre company producing and presenting a subscription season of original plays for all ages. The heart of its artistic process has continued to be the ensemble’s involvement in the entire process of theatre production, from playwriting to performing. For more information, visit http://www.touchstone.org
A Comic Strip’s director, Dan Stein had his own school in Paris for 15 years and has taught master classes throughout the world at institutions such as Juilliard School of Drama, New York and The Institute of Dramatic Arts, Tokyo. Daniel has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the United States/Japan Commission, the Pew Charitable Trust, and has been named a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow.
A COMIC STRIP
at the Ko Festival of Performance
August 4, 5 & 6 at 8:00 pm
In the Holden Theater, Amherst College, Amherst MA
Admission: $15 general, $12 students and seniors
For Tickets and Reservations please call. (413) 542-2277.
For Group rates and further information call: 413-427-6147