Hey, Everybody, Let's Put On An Avant-Garde Show!

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Hey, Everybody, Let's Put On An Avant-Garde Show!

Say, gang, did you hear the news? Rotten old Banker Mudge wants to tear down our clubhouse and put up a big office building in its place. Can you believe it? Us kids will have no place to go! Well, doggone it, I won't stand for it, and neither should any of the other kids here in Gurdeyville! I just know if we put our thinking caps on, we can figure a way out of this jam.

Wait... I got it! We'll raise the money to stop Banker Mudge by putting on a show! An avant-garde show!

I know what you're thinking: "Jeez, Mickey, we only know about stickball and skipping rope, not avant-garde dramatics!" But I tell you, gang, absurdist theater is in my blood! My pop used to be the artistic director of an experimental playhouse in Greenwich Village during the heyday of the Fluxus movement, and my great-grandmaw served drinks at the Cabaret Voltaire, which was just about the most important Dadaist theater in WWI Zurich. Even though I'm only 13, I've picked up enough from them to direct us a swell show.

Besides, we've got a whole mess of talent to work with here! Little Gracie tap-dances with pep aplenty, and Bucky's lasso tricks never fail to wow. Why, with just a little practice, they could be transformed into a chorus of shrouded, shrieking wraiths in no time! And who else but sweet Rosemarie, the golden-haired darling of our gang, should play the part of the slovenly mother-whore who's constantly giving birth to fist-sized maggots?

Now, don't get sore if you don't land one of the lead roles. There's work for everybody on this avant-garde production! Virginia's a demon with a needle and thread; she'll be just the gal to stitch together the blood-red cloth backdrop with the vagina-shaped opening through which the giant fetus enters in the first act. Jackie, the junkman's son, is a born prop man—he could dig up enough rusted urinals and soiled dolls' heads for a dozen plays! Sissy Chester can compose the dissonant, aleatoric score. And Spud never goes anywhere without his hammer and nails; he can build the stage and the sets, as well as the huge wooden letter M that drops to the floor and crushes the proletarian rioters at the end of Act II! The rest of you can sell tickets, paste playbills on the fence outside Schwoegler's Field, or hitch Nanny Goat to her cart and haul a giant papier-mâché phallus up and down Gurdeyville Town Square. Yep, we're gonna need all the help we can get!

If we're gonna put on a proper avant-garde show, it oughta be some kind of surrealist drama heavy on symbolism. Who will write this play, you ask? None other than yours truly, Mickey McCune, natch! Aw, don't worry, I've seen lots of these kind of shows—cabaret, poetry recitals, performance art, you name it. It'll be a cinch! I think I'll call my work Meat Play. It will be the story of the aforementioned fetus, who survives a premature birth and eventually ascends to the throne of an obscure Eastern European kingdom. There will be a waltzing skeleton, a murderous clown, an enormously fat industrialist who sits atop a large glass toilet and defecates money, and a lecherous bishop who covets his own sister but can't act on his impulses because he's buried up to his chest in dirt. Ain't that a peach?

By thunder, we'll do things up on that stage that'll have everybody talking here in Gurdeyville! Instead of stagehands, the actors will move the scenery right in front of the audience. Without warning or explanation, human actors will be replaced by marionettes... right smack in the middle of scenes! And, of course, there will be heaps and heaps of overlapping dialogue. This play will not only savagely attack the class system, organized religion, and sexual mores, but also, by subverting the conventions of mainstream theater, it will draw attention to its stale artificiality! Yesiree, this Meat Play is gonna be a pip!

What's that you say, Hamhock? "Nudity"? Jumping Jehosophat, you're right! How silly I was to forget the nudity! It's just the thing every avant-garde play needs. We'll paint our naked bodies all the colors of the rainbow, and the boys' penises will be gaily striped like barbershop poles! Golly, I can hardly wait for opening night!

We'll charge 10 cents a seat and invite everyone in town, from the ragpicker to the mayor himself. We'll even invite old Banker Mudge, just to show him he can't boss us kids around! When everybody sees our nifty avant-garde show, they'll be clamoring for more. The dimes will pour in, and not only will we have enough money to save the clubhouse, but we'll also have enough left over for ice-cream sundaes!

What's that, Bucky? You say the clubhouse already has the money to pay off Banker Mudge and stop his plan? Some other neighborhood kids raised the funds by performing a play of their own? A dialogue-free version of Uncle Tom's Cabin in which all the players lie onstage tightly swaddled in gauze? Gee, Bucky, why didn't you say something before I got on a roll? Well, I guess I oughta get back to working on my soap-box racer for the big derby!