Live Active Cultures
Seth renews his vows with cult pop culture
Published: February 18, 2012
In a college religion class I took, I learned that cults are small, young social groups dedicated to the ritualized veneration of a sacred text or charismatic leader. (A larger, older cult is called a religion.) While I’ve never sold flowers in an airport, my life seems wedded to the world of the cultish, at least within an arts and culture context: From last week’s Star Trek convention to Disney’s domain (surely the world’s most profitable cult), I frequently find myself among the obsessively exclusive. Over the past week, I’ve renewed those vows with cult pop culture, and appropriately enough, my quartet of experiences coincided with the four wedding essentials.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show wasn’t my first cult-film crush – that would be Pink Floyd: The Wall – but it’s my deepest. Still, I hadn’t attended the Rich Weirdoes’ “shadowcast” show at Universal CityWalk in more than a year. On Halloween night I remedied that, largely because local nerd-rock favorite Marc With a C played a pre-show set.
Though the show has upgraded (when I began we used folding chairs and flashlights; now there are actual set pieces and spots), I’ve apparently aged. When I find myself grumbling that I don’t understand the audience callbacks and whining that 1:30 a.m. is past my bedtime, it’s time to retire my rice and fishnets.
If anyone in the local theater community could start their own cult, it would be Beth Marshall. At last Thursday’s Play-in-a-Day 2011, the former Fringe producer again demonstrated her power to assemble Orlando’s A-list artists. This annual experiment in extreme playcraft isn’t unlike cult indoctrination: 24 hours of isolation, insomnia, arbitrary rules and forced collaboration with strangers. The difference is that Play-in-a-Day supports Orlando Shakespeare Theater’s PlayFest instead of some paranoid polygamist, and produced seven brand-new playlets – several of which were pretty good.
Participating writers included David Lee, Josh Geoghagan, Paul Strickland, Kenny Babel and Lindsay Cohen, with Laurel Clark, Tara Corless, Jay Hopkins, Paul Castaneda and Marshall herself directing. My top picks: Rob Anderson’s Twilight-Sleep, directed by Jeremy Seghers, starring Eric Pinder as a pregnant pre-op transsexual, Nicole Carson as his wife and Arwen Lowbridge as an unsympathetic nurse; and Rob Ward’s The Special, directed by Leesa Halstead, featuring Dorothy Massey and Lauren O’Quinn on an Internet date, with Brett Carson as their waiter.
Last Friday, I returned to my first cult fascination: the Muppets. Kermit the Frog and his felt friends’ fates rests with the box office for their upcoming film, but I’ll remain a fan even if Amy Adams ruins their comeback worse than she did Julie and Julia. Thanks to the Heather Henson-hosted Muppet Movie sing-along, held at the Gallery at Avalon Island as part of the Orlando Puppet Festival, a new generation got to experience her father’s classic comedy.
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