5Q :: Brian Matuszak brings ‘Hat’ plays back to DuluthRubber Chicken Theater’s Chicken Hat plays will call The Venue at Mohaupt Block home this go-round.
Proctor’s loss is Lincoln Park’s gain. Rubber Chicken Theater’s Chicken Hat plays, a continuation of the Out of the Hat plays founder Brian Matuszak created while at Renegade Comedy Theatre, will call The Venue at Mohaupt Block home this go-round.
To see what’s new this year, we talked to the man responsible for all the zany madness:
Budgeteer: When you started the Hat plays, did you think these anything-can-happen plays would make it to see 2010?
Matuszak: I started the Out of the Hat plays in May 2003 with my original theater company, Renegade Comedy Theatre.
I changed the name in 2008 when I started up my second theater company, Rubber Chicken Theater. Now they’re called the Chicken Hat Plays, but the format is exactly the same. We create eight entirely original plays — from writing to rehearsing to performing — in 24 hours.
I believed that these plays would last as long as the artists involved were still willing to do them, and that the audiences would enjoy seeing them. And, as you can see, we are still here!
What do you think the allure of the Hat plays are?
I think the allure is the artistic challenge that this format presents.
For writers, it’s “Can I really write a play based on random prompts in a few, short hours?”
For directors, it’s “Can I really direct a play and find props and costumes and help actors find characters and motivations and make it entertaining in a few, short hours?”
And for actors, it’s “Can I memorize all those lines in one day?”
And when they do answer the call and theater has been created, it’s the most exciting, positive, energizing feeling in the world. They all sit back and say, “Yes, I can.”
I should mention that our tech operators have challenges as well. (Megan Abel and Jerry Bacon will be heading it up for us this weekend, along with help from Tony Davis and Mike Anderson.) Not only do they have to figure out all the cues, but they spend a lot of time helping the directors find stuff, such as music or video elements.
So I think that’s the other appeal to this weekend of craziness: the camaraderie and collaboration that is needed to pull it off is amazing.
I know you said the Hat plays are moving toward less “blue” territory, but are you at least a little nervous about the plays your daughter will be appearing in?
I am not nervous at all because we have seasoned writers for this version of Hat. They are all talented enough to write something that is clever without being inappropriate.
There was a lot of raunchy stuff earlier on in our Hat history, and, sometimes that is OK, but I am confident these scripts will be wonderful for my daughter to appear in.
It’s a great experience for her to grow as a performer as well, and I am excited for this weekend.
How is The Shack treating you for Rubber Chicken Radio Hour?
The Shack is treating us wonderfully for the Rubber Chicken Radio Hour!
In fact, we have our season of shows already lined up with them: May 7 and August 20 will be our next two sketch comedy radio shows. Then on Halloween night, we’re going to recreate Orson Welles’ famous radio play “The War of the Worlds.”
What does Rubber Chicken have cooking that you’re excited about?
We are reprising two popular shows from last year: “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” will be going up in April at the Shack, and “Evil Dead: The Musical” will be bigger and bloodier than ever this October at The Venue!
We also are working with the Lake Superior Zoo to do an outdoor family show this summer.
But the show I am most excited about is our production of “American Buffalo” by David Mamet. That will be this June at The Venue. This is a show I have wanted to do for a long time, ever since I was in the audience and saw Al Pacino star in it off-Broadway in 1982 when I was a freshman at UMD. I can’t wait!
NEWS TO USE
Catch Rubber Chicken Theater’s third running of its whirlwind Chicken Hat plays at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 12-13, at The Venue at Mohaupt Block, 2024 W. Superior St. Like the Out of the Hat plays Brian Matuszak ran at Renegade, writers draw a who, a what and a where and then have a couple hours to write a script from those “prompts.” Cost is $10 per night or $15 for both.