Tearing Down the Big Top
TBA Opening Night at The Works
Becca Biggs
There is always a going-to-the-circus quality to the opening night of TBA. This year once again the Big Top was the time-warp known as the old Washington High School, circa 1924. Inside the vast, sprawling building pulsed with energy as the decidedly young crowd out for the all age performance crowded into the Theatre. I did hear someone behind me say that “there are a lot of older people here complaining about not having dinner and being hungry.” I might have fit the profile, but I hit the taco truck later in the Beer Garden and didn’t utter a word about being hungry or how tired I would be the next day.
Inside the theatre a strange tension began with the opening beat of what had been billed a Japanther and Nightshade battle. The spare driving intensity of the art punk meets girl group harmonies band was intensified by the huge scrim that both shielded them from the audience and provided the screen for Nightshade’s puppet antics. The battle ensued with giant silhouettes of ice cream cones, snapping heads, girls licking lollipops flipping between silhouettes of the hard rocking gang. We stayed through the pop goth classic Surfin’ Coffins:
To all the corpses
in metal coffins
along the freeway
and in the office:
To all the corporate
spillin their coffee:
we do not copy
The human spirit’s still alive
Down by the ocean
It was so awesome
Out of the city
We all went surfin…
Later in the Beer Garden I noticed the projection on a large canvas screen. It looked like black and white footage from the toppling of some dictatorship–wild crowd surge ripping down the wall. That’s when I realized it was a live feed and the audience inside was, in mass, pulling down the scrim–tearing down the Big Top.