(EDWARDSVILLE, Ill.) The world premiere of Whammy!!: The Seven Secrets to a Sane Self , a play written and directed by Chuck Harper, is set for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 2, at the James F. Metcalf Theater at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Harper, a professor of theater and dance at SIUE and head of the performance area in the department, said the play explores America’s obsession with, and addiction to, self-help and self-actualization.
“Whammy! began with a question: What would happen if you took the idea of ‘self-help,’ and the industry that surrounds it, smashed it together with Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 comic film, It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, and then looked at this smashup through the lens of a dream? Over the course of my research I ended up with two questions: 1) “How is it that the most affluent and comfortable society in the history of the western world can produce so many profoundly unhappy or unsatisfied people?” and 2) As Walker Percy asks in his book, Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book, ‘Why is it possible to learn more about the Crab Nebula, which is 6,000 light years away, than you presently know about yourself even though you’ve been stuck with yourself all your life?’”
The play has been called a “montage-based original performance that combines video, movement, found text and original text, as well as real-time audience ‘happiness’ quizzes.” Harper explained that the play went through developmental workshops in St. Louis over the course of two weeks. “The original two questions posed were discussed and several of the movement sections were created by me and collaborator Mikey Butane,” he said. “In September, rehearsals started with the SIUE cast, and we all began keeping dream journals. As an ensemble we wove these dream images together with the elements of song, dance, and text, through structured improvisation, into the thing audiences will see on stage here—play? dance? performance?”
Whammy! will continue at 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, Dec. 3-5, and Friday-Saturday, Dec. 11-12, as well as 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6 and 13. Tickets are $10 for adults, and $8 for senior citizens, non-SIUE students with a valid student I.D, and SIUE faculty, staff and alumni. All SIUE students with a valid I.D. are free thanks to the Campus Activities Board. For tickets or more information call the SIUE Fine Arts box office, (618) 650-2774, or toll free, (888) 328-5168, ext. 2774. Visit the Web site: www.siue.edu/THEATER.