Interact artists on Honey Boo Boo: "They didn't really see what the big deal was."
According to co-director Taous Khazem, satire is the name of the game for Interact Center for Visual and Performing Arts' new show, By the Seat of our Pants. The production features a series of parodies related to pop culture, and pokes fun at people and things including Honey Boo Boo, Downton Abbey, hacktivist group Anonymous, and Michelle Bachmann. Even the internet cat video phenomenon makes an appearance.
"There's an actual genetically modified jazz cat," Khazem says.
Part of the development throughout the rehearsal process involved figuring out what news was going to still be news by the time the show was onstage. They figured in things like the sequester, Kim Jong-un, and pop-culture moments that would still be on people's minds.
Khazem says that the message of the show is that we can all laugh at ourselves, though sometimes audiences don't know if it's okay to laugh at Interact shows. "Yes, we have disabilities, but we are funny and hysterical," he says. By making fun of things on television and the internet, the Interact team aims to "work your quirk, so to speak."
Like most Interact productions, By the Seat of our Pants was written through improvisation with the Interact artists and staff. For this show, guest artists Kimberly Richardson and Mohammed Yabdri joined in the creative process. Frequent Interact collaborator Aaron Gabriel, sound designer Sean Healey, and choreographer Colette Illarde have also added their touches to the piece.
This is the first time that Khazem, who directed Madame Josette's Naughty & Nice Cabaret over the holidays, will be co-directing with Interact's artistic director Jeanie Calvit. "We take a tag-team approach," Khazem says. "We worked off each other's strengths, bouncing ideas back and forth, and running with it." It helps that the two have a shared vocabulary, as they both trained at the famed Jacques Lecoq school in Paris.
The show took lots of research, with time devoted to watching Downton Abbey and other shows that are satirized. "It's funny, because not many of the Interact artists had seen Honey Boo Boo," says Khazem. "They didn't really see what the big deal was."
IF YOU GO:
By the Seat of our Pants
April 25 through May 18
212 Third Ave. N., Minneapolis
7 p.m. Thu. through Sat.; 3 p.m. Sat.; plus 7 p.m. Wed., May 15
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