Just Do It!

Just Do It!

The teens of Cry Havoc Theater Company implore us to Shut Up and Listen in a cunningly chaotic devised theater piece.

Repetition is sometimes a sign of poor craft in any art form, including writing, but it can also be a powerful device. Think of Ravel’s glorious Bolero or certain artwork by Andy Warhol and Chuck Close.

Repetition is a building block for Shut Up and Listen, a theater piece devised by teenage performers for the second production by Cry Havoc Theater Company, running through Saturday, Jan. 16 at the Margo Jones Theatre in Fair Park. The results are cunningly chaotic—just like the lives of teens.

Director Mara Richards Bim and associate director Shelby-Allison Hibbs worked with the teens for weeks as they created the show based on their own everyday experiences and their relationships with each other and The Other—a.k.a. adults.

Cry Havoc Theater's Shut Up and Listen Will Make You Do Just That

Cry Havoc Theater's Shut Up and Listen Will Make You Do Just That

Like acne scars that never fade, even as middle-age wrinkles carve tiny paths around them, the worst moments of our teen years remain etched forever on our psyches. It is the time in life most pocked by humiliation, shame and insecurity. Impulse control hasn’t yet kicked in. Mistakes are made. And made again. We learn from the blunders or are doomed to repeat them, or be haunted by them, well into adulthood.

The all-teen Cry Havoc Theater Company plays on these themes and more in a wise and powerful new piece of devised theater titled Shut Up and Listen!, going on for one more weekend at the Margo Jones Theater in Fair Park. Directors Mara Richards Bim and Shelby-Allison Hibbs and their actors — Daniel Hinton, Trinity Gordon, Regina Juarez, Cara Lawson, Romeo Hosein, Jesus Sena, Lucky Lawhorn II, Shamaraye McQueen, De’Aveyon Murphy, Lilia Houser, Elijah Rice — created the script using Meisner acting exercises and writing prompts. Several original monologues punctuate the action, but the otherwise nearly wordless 70-minute production unfolds as a high-energy circus of physical movement that stretches into every corner of the intimate acting space. (Dean Wray served as movement director.)

Shut Up and Listen, Part Two

Shut Up and Listen, Part Two

In her January Teacher/Artist column, Shelby-Allison Hibbs realizes that once you become an adult, you never truly understand what being a teenager is like again.

When you ask teenagers to speak for themselves, you may be surprised by the response. For the rehearsal process of Cry Havoc Theatre's Shut Up and Listen, which opened Friday at the Margo Jones Theatre, many of our days included a writing session in which our actors wrote about a broad topic (like feeling watched, the woes of my life, personal fears), and these essays transformed into the monologues used in the show. Instead of putting words in their mouth, I wanted to hear what they were experiencing in the present moment.

How does a 15/16/17/18-year-old see the world right now?

Shut Up and Listen, Part One

Shut Up and Listen, Part One

In her DecemberTeacher/Artist column, Shelby-Allison Hibbs writes about the upcoming project from Cry Havoc Theatre, in which silence is golden.

Teenagers. They are in a limbo of sorts, no longer a child, but not considered an adult either. They push towards an identity of their own choosing while also pulled back into what others wish for them. These curious in-betweens want to be daring, to explore uncharted territory on a journey that is as unique and meaningful as they perceive themselves to be. But they are also held back by obstacles outside and within, surging continuously towards autonomy but never quite seeming to reach it.

To capture this experience and give teens a voice of their own, Mara Richards Bim created Cry Havoc Theatre Company. What makes the group unique is the aim of creating complex and provocative theatre, rather than simple or non-intellectually stimulating work.  Their second production, Shut Up and Listen, will perform at the Margo Jones Theatre in Fair Park in January and I am serving as associate director for the project. It’s a devised work modeled on the structure of Belgian theater company Ontroerend Goed’s Once and for All… This physical theatre work, with very little language at all, presents teenagers acting as themselves as if no one is watching. Chaos ensues as we see the group evolve through destruction and anarchy, and reset themselves in unexpected moments. As a work in progress, this column and the next will focus on the development of the project, starting with the first rehearsal.