Robbie Morgan moved to Chicago in 1998 hoping to get involved in the kind of theater that had captivated her at Actors Theatre of Louisville: immediate, relevant theater. She found the Neo-Futurists.
"I went to see a show and was amazed," Morgan said over tea at the new café Cuppa. "I said, 'I don't know what I can do here,' and they said, 'You can make brownies for the audience.'"
So she did, serving chocolaty goodness to audiences while they waited for shows to begin.
That began seven years of Morgan working with the troupe — acting, writing and baking — until she moved to Toronto for graduate school in 2004.
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Now, back home in Central Kentucky, Morgan is bringing some of her Chicago theater experience to Lexington. The Neo-Futurists will perform its hit late-night show Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind on Friday and Saturday night at Natasha's Bistro and Bar.
"It changes every week," Neo-Futurists founder Greg Allen says of the show. "It's 30 plays performed in random order.
"We try to keep the show up to date so it's diverse as life itself."
The show is performed with a clothesline on which cards with the names of the 30 two-minute plays hang. The audience calls out the number of a play, and then the actors perform it.
The plays themselves run the gamut from comedy to drama, silly to profound — maybe even silly and profound.
"There's a real sense of exhilaration with the format," Morgan said.
In addition to performing, the Neo-Futurists will conduct a pair of workshops articulating the group's style and approach.
There are a few rules they follow, Morgan says. For instance, all the actors are playing themselves; they never play a character. And the actors are aware of and interact with the audience. Also, there are no directors.
"I teach people that because of the aesthetic, you are using your own life and your own experience to make a creative statement," Allen said.
Morgan said it is an approach that can work with non-actors and experienced stage performers alike.
During its 22 years, the Neo-Futurists have spawned troupes in New York, Memphis and Montreal.
Morgan thinks Lexington might be ready for one.
She says that when she moved back home to Lawrenceburg, she considered moving to Lexington but wondered whether the city had a substantial creative community.
Then she saw the March Madness Marching Band at last year's Fourth of July parade.
"You can feel that creative energy and drive," Morgan said. "I lived in two big cities and love that experience. To come from that and find as rich and diverse an experience in Lexington is really wonderful."
Morgan says she hopes from the workshops to gain a sense of how much interest there would be in creating a Neo-Futurists-like group in Lexington. The group, she says, would perform every three months or so and could play at any number of venues around Lexington. Besides Too Much Light, the Neo-Futurists in Chicago do original, full-length shows.
Whether a troupe comes together here, Morgan says, it is worth bringing the Neos to town because "the show is just so much fun."