My friends and I saw Bunny Gumbo's Combat Theatre the other night. This was a horrible angering mistake. The Combat Theatre process, as far as i can tell, is as follows: Jim Fletcher invites his friends and people he knows to participate in the show. He assembles a very large cast and crew from the local theatre community, gives each person one distinct role, which can be acheived in a few (i'd guess at max 8) hours, and then bribes them to beg their friends and family to give Jim $18 each.
With a casting process based on friendships, not merit, a pyramid scheme supported by an absurdly large cast (whoever brings the most audience gets $100, everyone else gets nothing) as a promotion system, randomly selected subjects and locations that are so obvious, they all but write the play themselves, writers too lazy to do much of anything challenging or creative with these ready-made script set-ups, actors who rarely play anything but the most worn out imitations of facile stereotypes (with a few notable exceptions) ridiculously high ticket prices and an audience who is only there to see their friend or family member acting goofy, it's no wonder Bunny Gumbo crawls up near the top of the deadliest theatre i've seen.
Deadly Theatre, a term coined by Peter Brook, is theatre that nobody actually likes. We just go through the motions of liking it because we think we're supposed to. It's Shakespeare. It's a stale cliche, an old joke, something that we laugh at or attend, or promote because it's so familiar that doing so is socially ingrained. We go because for whatever reason, we ought to, not because we want to. It's deadly because it's an unsustainable scam, sinking the medium of theatre in a bog of mediocrity and social niceity. Most of what hit the stage in Saturday night's Combat was deadly.
Bunny Gumbo promotes themselves as though they are producing edgy original works, as though this 24 hour theatre production is an impressive feat. But these works would only be edgy to pre-school teachers, original to a recently dethawed cro-magnons, and impressive to someone who hasn't participated in producing similar shows. To someone who has produced the 24 hour staging of a dozen plays written in 10 minutes, or the 24 hour writing and staging of a full length musical, both with everyone taking multiple much larger roles that actually require them to lose sleep and experience stress, and both with far more merit, originality, and watchability (though less audience) than what Combat produced, (not to mention full sets and almost no budget), to someone who's done that, Combat Theatre is an insult, it's a fucking scam. It's a bunch of theatre people having a party and charging $18 for the privledge of watching them play.