Rough and Tumble: Theatre That Doesn’t Suck

Rough & Tumble is a ten year-old theatre company that has made a name for itself in Boston for its inventive physical comedy and bold theatricality. The company develops original works, produces new plays by Boston playwrights, and stages guerilla theater events around Boston (such as an elaborate chase scene through the Boston Public Library and a playfully bizarre tour along the Freedom Trail).

While not quite clowns, they use clowning, circus skills, melodrama, masks, and just about anything else they can get their hands on to make theatre that, in their own words, “doesn’t suck.” (Yes, that’s part of their mission statement/manifesto)

They’ve got a great manifesto up on their website (listed below)

Here’s part of it:

Our stuff looks different, is outside the norm, linear narrative, realistic, method/classical stuff because we are looking for new, more alive ways to engage and exhilarate our audience. If that means setting up a bedroom on the Boston Common: OK. If that means creating a show with no spoken dialogue: right-on. If that means adapting a movie script for the stage: brilliant. We love a creative challenge because it’s fun, and it presents opportunities to give our audiences glittering moments of awareness. We experiment with the form for the sake of what we create, not for the sake of experimenting.

Our motto is “Theater That Doesn’t Suck” because we think most theater does suck. If we could call what we do something other than “plays” and “theater” without confusing people, we’d do it. Most theater is talky, bland, self-important and preaching to the choir. Most theater ignores completely what is unique and exciting about the form. We want to make theater that is more like seeing a great rock concert: dizzying and exhilarating and euphoric and communal and there’s a chance you might get laid. And we don’t think that’s experimental, as much as we think that’s what theater should be like, and everyone who isn’t trying for that is doing it wrong.

Their next show is a mostly true story of famous airship captain Hugo Eckener’s effort to fly the Graf Zeppelin around the world in 1929, carrying dozens of journalists, photographers, paying passengers, and the physician to the King of Spain. They are combing through the many histories and newspaper reports that chronicled the event to recreate the atmosphere of media frenzy, populist pride, and futurism that swirled about the voyage. In addition to all of the historical research, they will be making a bunch of stuff up wholecloth.

The show will be at the Factory Theater, 791 Tremont Street in Boston from April 11-27.

To find out more about Rough and Tumble, visit their website

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