Oobleck plays to be published in 2012

posted 09/07/2011

We are pleased to announce the July 27, 2012 publication date for a new book of Oobleck scripts.

The five plays, all written by Oobleck founding members, will be published by Hope on Nonthings, which previously published Mickle Maher’s Oobleck plays An Apology for the Course and Outcome of Certain Events Delivered by Doctor John Faustus on This His Final Evening and The Hunchback Variations in 2001 and The Strangerer and Spirits To Enforce in 2008.

More If You’ve Got It: 5 Plays from Theater Oobleck will include, in the order they were produced by Oobleck:

Ugly’s First World, by Jeffrey Dorchen
Necessity, by Danny Thompson
Innocence and Other Vices, by Dave Buchen
Letter Purloined, by David Isaacson
There Is a Happiness That Morning Is, by Mickle Maher.

There will be an introduction by Terri Kapsalis and a forward by Tony Award-winning playwright Greg Kotis.

Other publications available from Oobleck authors are:

  • Short plays by Dorchen, Isaacson, Maher, and Thompson published in last autumn’s issue of The Louisville Review (available on back order or now through pdf download)
  • and a number of Dave Buchen’s hand-printed books, available through his website.

Invitation to an Opera

posted 07/18/2011

On Monday, July 25th, 2011, Theater Oobleck will be holding a fund-raising event unlike any we’ve held before, to support a work unlike any we’ve ever created in our long, unlikely history:


That’s right, not kidding, an opera.

The libretto’s from The Hunchback Variations by company playwright Mickle Maher (The Strangerer, There Is a Happiness That Morning Is, etc), and the music — being penned even as you read this! — is by Mark Messing, the genius behind the scores of numerous Redmoon Theatre productions, and co-founder of that mad, brilliant marching band, Mucca Pazza.

It will be a strange and hilarious and moving thing, this opera.

And on Monday, July 25th, at 7:30 PM, Mr. Messing will be finished with exactly 67.3% of its composition.

Oobleck will be presenting that 67.3% to a select audience, in a special workshop presentation, at a super secret as yet undisclosed secret presentation hideout.

And you can be a part of that audience, and hear that 67.3%.

All of it sung by people with strange, hilarious, moving and incredible voices.

But here’s the deal:

Mark Messing’s composition—as imaginative, wild, and fun as it is—is enormously demanding, and requires highly trained singers and instrumentalists to pull it off. It’s OPERA, see? To realize it fully, to bring this new, beautiful creation into the world, and to debut it before the end of this year, we require your support. After all these years (23 and counting!) of offering low cost, pay-what-you-can tickets, we need to sell you just one at the downtown fancy-pants, operatic price of $50.00.

With your ticket you’ll be there at the beginning, a beginning that you helped make possible.

There will be wine, there will be cheese. And many fascinating eaters of cheese and drinkers of wine. There will be a discussion with the composer and playwright. There will be an atmosphere traced through with that ineffable sense of Oobleckian wonder. And also cheese.

But primarily, a bringing of the New.

Please come.


Click here for tickets and info.

Only 60 tickets will be sold, so click now!

If you’re unfamiliar with The Hunchback Variations (the original play), you can take a look at a couple of scenes from it here.

Chicago Stage Review lauds "Hunchback" workshop

posted 07/18/2011

In December, we presented the first couple “variations” of our work-in-progress: The Hunchback Variations Opera.

Venus Zarris of the Chicago Stage Review was there, and submitted this glowing report:

“This is NOT the stuff of standard theater, MUCH LESS standard opera. It IS the stuff of an absurdist masterpiece. Maher’s writing is cerebral and acerbic. Little to nothing about this script lends itself to music, much less the constructs of opera, but Messing takes the traditional framework of operatic composition and applies a musical quantum physics to perfectly meet The Hunchback Variations somewhere in the midst of the its unreal realm. We heard only a handful of movements to the opera. That was more than enough to know that we were in the audience of something extraordinary.”

See her full report here.

The Wine Cycle (Baudelaire in a Box: Episode One) album release

posted 06/18/2011


The song from Happiness

posted 06/18/2011


Words by Mickle Maher, music by Chris Schoen.

Fall Down by Radio Oobleck

More raves for Happiness

posted 05/10/2011

There Is a Happiness That Morning Is confirms again Theater Oobleck’s reputation as one of the most creative and original troupes in town. FUNNY, WITTY, LITERATE, and PROFOUND… It’s the actors who make it a slam-dunk” -Windy City Times

“one of the year’s most extraordinary offerings that you cannot afford to miss. Genius writing requires genius acting and this spellbinding ensemble realizes the peculiar reality of the story with fascinating and riveting effect.” -Chicago Stage Review

“Find a stranger or more thought-provoking evening and it’s bound to be another Oobleck show.” -WBEZ

“This play explores the depths of romantic involvement in a way that engages and thrills the audience… I expected great things from There Is a Happiness That Morning Is, and I wasn’t disappointed. You won’t be either.” -Gapers Block

"Couplets on Coupling" Chicago Reader reviews Happiness

posted 04/22/2011

press, reviews

Justin Hayford:

“Maher’s ludicrous, heartbreaking There Is a Happiness That Morning Is…is his most powerful play to date.

Three of Chicago’s most intelligent, flexible fringe actors make up the cast… and whether ruminating on 18th-century poetry, academic minutiae, or love’s transience, they make Maher’s intricate, demanding text ring true at nearly every turn.”

Read the rest

4 stars for Happiness from Time Out

posted 04/19/2011


“Goosed by precise, masterful performances, Maher’s text is almost endlessly engaging and frequently hilarious… It’s a tantalizing examination of love’s dark secrets.”

Read the whole review at Time Out Chicago.

NewCity recommends Happiness

posted 04/19/2011


Monica Westin lays it out for you:

“This is Oobleck at their best: an unorthodox premise that oscillates between rapid-fire madcap humor and unexpected enlightenment, with playwright Mickle Maher’s rhymed verse a study in contrast between passion and wit.”

Read the rest.

Happiness photos

posted 04/14/2011


There Is a Happiness That Morning Is photos by John Sisson.

Hysterical in South Bend!

posted 02/16/2011

Theater Oobleck makes its Indiana debut, with this one-night-only performance of The Hysterical Alphabet.

The details: The University of Notre Dame (co-sponsored by Gender Studies Program) presents The Hysterical Alphabet, Wednesday, February 16, 2011, 8 pm, at Browning Cinema, DeBartolo Performing Arts Center.

It is free, but is a ticketed event. For tickets phone 574-631-2800 or visit

More details are at the Gender Studies website

This hit show — a collaboration between author Terri Kapsalis, video-collagist Danny Thompson, and sound artist John Corbett — is currently touring American campuses. So far it has been seen at Bates College, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Clark University, the Rhode Island School of Design, and Emory College.

An appreciation of the performance at Emory is here … to quote:

“In a refreshingly non-didactic, yet pedagogical performance, Theater Oobleck’s The Hysterical Alphabet, is an example of what a 21st-century hybrid of art and scholarship might be.”

In addition, following its Chicago premiere, the work was reviewed in Newcity.

“Theatre Oobleck’s “The Hysterical Alphabet” is a beautifully nuanced mixture of historical treatise, medical discourse and poetic archive, chronicling the sometimes hilarious, often horrifying saga of the “female malady” that is hysteria throughout the centuries. Oobleck has remounted their inspired multimedia presentation at the Chopin Theatre, after premiering last fall in a one-night-only showing at the Gene Siskel Film Center. Terry Kapsalis’s remarkable text, an ABC’s of women and their wily wombs (now available in book form with fantastic drawings by Gina Litherland), is the axis material, but accompanied by Danny Thompson’s stunning video “documentary,” and John Corbett’s gratifying sound design, the sum transforms into something greater than its (private) parts. The three artists enter quietly, without fanfare, and take seats at a long table before a large projection screen. Aided by microphones, a computer/projector, record player and numerous sound folio devises, the performance/lecture takes off, with Kapsalis reading matter-of-factly, almost demurely, her lyrical chronology of ailment, while Thompson frenzy of found and original video images unfurl to the tunes (and crackles, cries and whistles) of Corbett’s manic soundscape. The trio packs an astounding amount of information into little more than an hour’s time—delivering a lesson that is wickedly funny, surprisingly heart-wrenching and not to be missed. (Valerie Jean Johnson)”

You can see an video excerpt of the play here and can order the book version here

Louisville Review publishes 4 plays by Oobleckers

posted 01/18/2011

The Louisville Review’s Fall issue devotes its entire drama section to works by Oobleck authors.

Included are Happy Happy Bunny Visits Sad Sad Owl by Danny Thompson; Ubu Papa by Jeffrey Dorchen; Havel/Bickle by David Isaacson; and Delivery by Mickle Maher.

The drama section is edited by Charlie Schulman.

It is available through The Louisville Review website

Oobleck in Puerto Rico

posted 01/18/2011

Theater Oobleck is engaged in our most ambitious project to date: Baudelaire in a Box, a cantastoria of the entire contents of “Les Fleurs du mal,” to be completed by 2017, the 150th anniversary of Baudelaire’s death.

The first installment was performed at the HideOut in April. The next installment will be performed January 26-30 in Puerto Rico, as part of The Festival Vititiri. And the third installment will be back here in Chicago and at the Banners and Cranks festival in New York City this summer

Here’s the skinny on this weekend: The Festival Vitititiri presents four different nights of puppets, circus, music, cantastoria and wine.

Wednesday January 26th at 8:00, at the Nuyorican Cafe in Old San Juan. Theater Oobleck, Clare Dolan, The Dolly Wagglers, Circo Nacional de Puerto Rico, Y No Había Luz, María de Azúa and Eden Cruz perform.

Friday and Saturday January 28 & 29th, the festival travels to south west coast in Guanica at La Bodega Andreu Solé with Theater Oobleck, Clare Dolan, The Dolly Wagglers, Circo Nacional de Puerto Rico and Y No Había Luz.

And Sunday afternoon at 5 they are back in San Juan at the Abracadabra Café in Santutrce with Theater Oobleck, Clare Dolan, The Dolly Wagglers and Eden Cruz.

Theater Oobleck will be performing three new cantastorias from the Baudelaire in a Box project. Chris Schoen will sing his adaptations in English and Eden Cruz will sing his in Spanish of The Giantess, The Sick Muse and Hymn to Beauty with scrolling artwork by Dave Buchen.

(And what is a cantastoria, you might ask? Cantastoria is the Italian word for a performance form originating in 6th Century India involving the display of representational paintings accompanied by sung narration. It traveled the world and has taken on many forms, from Indian religious Par scrolls to the Indonesian Wayang-Beber, to Persian Parda-dar entertainers, to itinerant European street performers selling broadsides, to the German banklesanger in Weimar cabarets to the present day revival.)

A thoughtful assessment of 'Casanova' from Chicago Theater Blog

posted 06/02/2010

press, reviews

“When modern day financial instruments and credit default swaps begins to resemble the impulsive gambling schemes of an 18th-century libertine, why shouldn’t we turn to that sly, witty, and insouciant rogue–especially when, down on his luck in prison, he is being candid about all his vices, compulsions, hair-brained money-making misadventures and sexual entrapments. Isaacson has rediscovered the perfect figure to expose us to the implications and ramifications of real-life venture capitalism. Add a little sex, an aspect of human nature that is driven by many of the same delusions and impulses as gambling with other people’s money, and you have the 21st-century financial crisis, only saucier.”

Read the whole thing here.

Newcity calls Casanova "a revelation"

posted 06/01/2010

press, reviews

The Newcity Review:

“Imagine if NPR—in particular, perhaps, the “Planet Money” show—were a theater company, and “Casanova Takes a Bath” might be something they would produce. In this one-person show, writer/performer David Isaacson takes a topic as dry as the recent American financial crisis, and overlays it with the lens of eighteenth-century libertine Giacomo Casanova, suddenly making the narrative of the financial crisis as saucy as a Harlequin romance…
“You have to marvel at the kind of mind that could see the parallels between two such seemingly disparate worlds. Yet, while you may not come away with any deeper understanding of economics, Isaacson’s insightful antics are nothing short of a revelation.” (Neal Ryan Shaw)

Link to full review

Centerstage says 'Casanova' is a must-see show

posted 05/27/2010

We love the lead of this review:

“If you’re in Chicago, and you’re looking for some brilliant comic juxtapositions, go see any show produced by the folks at Theater Oobleck; they are the Brilliant Comic Juxtapositions People.”

And the rest of it isn’t so bad either! (No, actually it’s good. Very good. You can read it here.

Chicago Reader review of 'Casanova'

posted 05/27/2010

press, reviews

“In this amusing solo lecture-cum-farce, [David Isaacson] exposes the cupidity, stupidity, narcissism, and—most of all—magical thinking behind the crisis by showing how nicely it parallels the financial misadventures of a man who got in on the ground floor of laissez-faire capitalism: the legendary lover, Giacomo Casanova. . . . Charming and smart.” — Tony Adler, in the Chicago Reader

Read the full review.

The Chicago Tribune reviews 'Casanova'

posted 05/27/2010

“If the financial shenanigans that led to our economic meltdown still make your eyes glaze over, David Isaacson’s new one-man show, “Casanova Takes a Bath,” should go a long way toward rectifying that.” — or so sayeth Nina Metz in the Chicago Tribune

Read the full review

One show only: "Lost Works of Beckett" makes triumphant return!

posted 05/27/2010


Theater Oobleck, along with our pals the Neo-Futurists, are really excited to bring back, for ONE SHOW ONLY, one of our biggest hits ever: The Complete Lost Works Of Samuel Beckett As Found In An Envelope (partially burned) In A Dustbin In Paris Labeled “Never to be performed. Never. Ever. EVER! Or I’ll Sue! I’LL SUE FROM THE GRAVE!”

It is this Saturday, May 29, at the Steppenwolf Garage, 1624 N. Halsted Street, in Chicago, at 5pm.

Here’s a sampling of what the press has said: “Howlingly on target!” – New York Times. “I fell off my chair laughing” – The Guardian. “Hilariously liberating” – The London Times. “The performances are sharp, the wit sharper; it had audiences in screams and tears” – Village Voice

After eleven international runs including the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, London’s Riverside Theater, a three-month UK tour, a production touring Europe in German, and three sold-out runs in New York City, this Theater Oobleck/Neo-Futurist collaboration returns to Chicago for the first time since it premiered in the Rhino Festival in a decade ago.

Featuring Neo-Futurist Founder Greg Allen, Oobleck Founder Danny Thompson, and the amazing John Jughead Pierson as “the actor”, this is a one-shot opportunity to see this award-winning show before we tour again.

Tickets are $15. More if you’ve got it! FREE if you’re broke!
No reservations accepted. Just show up at the Steppenwolf Garage on Saturday (May 29th) before 5pm, give us a donation and you’re in!

We will be filming the show so bring your friends!

Watch! 'Casanova,' the music video

posted 05/20/2010

Courtesy the magical Danny Thompson.

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