Celebrating its tenth year, the Pumpkin Pie Show is a rigorous storytelling session amplified by its own live soundtrack. In junta high, Clay McLeod Chapman, a New New Stuff 2005 favorite, crafts a Sweet Valley-styled high school for terrorists where cheerleaders double as suicide bombers and guidance counselors are taken hostage by the A/V club. Holy causes worth dying for galvanize school spirits, blood is shed on the football field every Friday night and the Hungry March Band fervently plays on.
Original music written and performed live by the Hungry March Band.
Thursday, March 23: SPECIAL POST-SHOW PANEL DISCUSSION
with Michael F. Oppenheimer and Paul Rieckhoff.
Perception v. Reality: An in-depth conversation about government policy, media representation and what’s happening in Iraq – as well as the crucial role of the arts in addressing this ever-widening disconnect.
See what the Press are saying about junta high:
Under the collective name the Pumpkin Pie Show, novelist-monologuist Clay McLeod Chapman and a rotating roster of performers have spent the past decade reinventing the art of the campfire tale by injecting live music with visceral theatricality. This planned evolution takes a disturbing and invigorating turn in Chapman’s latest effort, Junta High.
Staged as a pep rally (replete with color guard and wooden gym floor), this is no mere collection of monologues — the high intensity of the performers is scored throughout by the Hungry March Band, a kick-ass brass ensemble that helps turn this storytelling huddle into an orgasmic nightmare of school spirit gone violently wrong. The concept casts the grim effects of complex geopolitical struggle as the rivalry between opposing high school football teams: A lethal homecoming queen (the electric Hanna Cheek) relates the discovery of a mass grave under the bleachers, for instance, and a team mascot (the wickedly gleeful Abe Goldfarb) provides an infectious demonstration of fascist antics.
Though this sassy approach may prove offensive to some, its aim is neither to glorify intramural sports nor to diminish global horrors. Junta High is not metaphor, but something akin to Brecht’s alienation effect: a fresh light that forces you to read in a new, left-field context the bloody international headlines that have grown dull with repetition. At a certain point, the laughter gives way to darker emotions, and the stories start hitting a bit too close to home. Luckily, the band kicks in to make us clap our hands and stomp our feet – but that just implicates us even further, doesn’t it?
– TimeOut New York
“Social anxieties, competing cliques, and the rival pressures to stand out and conform can certainly make high school feel like a battlefield. But arch-monologuist Clay McLeod Chapman replaces the figurative with the literal in this tale of warrior football players, terrorist cheerleaders, and guidance counselor hostages. Hungry March Band supplies the music.”
– The Village Voice, Spring Arts Preview
“The art and literature world find themselves with a strange, wonderful treat on their hands… The Pumpkin Pie show is a crazy, jubilant convergence of art and words and it seems like it sprung, fully-formed, from the mind of Clay McLeod Chapman. (P)ut this on your calendars. We promise it won’t be dull.
– The Gothamist
“Chapman writes complex, witty noir fiction — but it’s doubly enjoyable to see him perform…
– Flavorpill NYC
“Think of it as (Gus van Sant’s) Elephant times ten plus tubas.”
“Makes Columbine look like kindergarten… (The Hungry March Band) is a bombastic Brooklyn-based brass outfit with a known talent for getting jaded hipsters on their feet.”
– Theatre Today
March 16 – 26, 2006
Opens Thursday, March 16
Wednesday-Saturday at 8:30 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday at 4:30 p.m.