For five weeks this June and July, Beau O’Reilly and Curious Theatre Branch will bring back the third incarnation of his short play series, “Three Story Animal,” combining three story-based theatrical adaptations each night running in rotating repertory, three nights each week. Each night, O’Reilly combines one of his own stories with one renowned writer—like Beckett, Hemingway, Donald Barthelme—featuring Theater Oobleck actors and one guest writer/performer: animator Chris Sullivan, monologist Diana Slickman, poet John Starrs, Curious co-founder Jenny Magnus, and playwright Mark Chrisler.
Why curate such an assorted three-part evening? “It’s a simple answer,” according to O’Reilly. “The first show we did at the twentieth-anniversary of Rhino Fest, calling it ’20 Story Animal.’ I wanted to do a bunch of stories from people who had been in the Rhino and some of my own. When people asked if I would do it again the next year, I thought, what’s the second story animal? It ended up being me and a guest. And in introducing the third element this year, I’ve been playing with short adaptations of pieces by famous authors… the gestures of short-story writing and novel writing applied to theater.”
O’Reilly’s three plays include “Tessie at the End of the Hall”: “I was 47 once,” he says, “and it’s a memory piece series of scenes that all happened that year, investigating memory itself”; “The House on the Lake in the Woods by the Ocean,” a modern folktale about a woman who meets a bear after being forgotten in a lakehouse by her husband; and “God Fucking Bless Henry Welles,” a dark comedy about a young man coming from a halfway house to visit an ailing, bedridden friend.
The first three nights will feature a new performance by Chris Sullivan, whose surreal, hypertheatrical solo performance “Mark the Encounter” was my personal highlight at Rhino this year. Sullivan’s new piece,”Aggression Therapy,” continues one of its themes: a satirical but emotive exploration of the therapy industry. According to Sullivan, “’Aggression Therapy’ is much more formal in its language—an oratory experiment, somewhere between the written word and the performed. I like to write things that no one would ever say, but say them anyway.” While the piece centers around a profoundly disturbing theoretical approach to analysis, Sullivan is most interested in “the way that being a caretaker, being in a dominant role in a relationship, eventually undermines you. You can never escape unscathed by any human interaction.”
What does he make of the triple-bill repertory format and the relationship between performances? “I am interested but not worried. It’s like putting two bugs in a jar and seeing what happens.” (Monica Westin)
“Three Story Animal” plays at the side project, 1439 W Jarvis, June 11-June 27 and Center Portion, 2850 W Fullerton, July 2-July 11.”Aggression Therapy” will run the first three nights. (773)508-0666, curioustheatrebranch.com.