Storm the Stage!

Feels like old times: The string band Pigs Eye Landing and players from 'The Parsnip County Shindig'
Charissa Uemura

Every time I see a show produced by the Galumph Interactive Theater, I get a new name: This time out, the company dubbed me Frank Connally, and declared that I was a Scottish vicar. This required me to badly impersonate Sean Connery for the evening, even as I engaged in such unlikely behavior as flinging parsnips at a wooden pig, delivering stern lectures about the dangers of intemperance, and do-si-doing to old-time fiddle music. For the most part, the interactive theater movement seems to have deteriorated into affairs like Tony n' Tina's Wedding, in which the audience remains a spectator, even as they share a meal with an actor playing some exaggerated caricature. The Galumph troupe, by contrast, is determined to create a theater that is truly interactive--to the point that the audience itself is the show.

That's the case with their latest creation, The Parsnip County Shindig, which is set at a 1903 county fair in Northern Minnesota. The whole of it is overseen by a handful of professional performers in straw hats or cotton bonnets (including a string band called Pigs Eye Landing), but the show is mostly in the hands of its attendees. At the performance I attended, the audience/performers consisted mostly of regulars at the Tapestry Folkdance Center, a cosponsor of the show. This crowd proved to be a marvel on the dance floor, spinning their partners in what can only be described as a series of terrifying polkas. They also proved to be inveterate hams, clustering around a water jug marked "XX" and pretending to grow drunk as the evening wore on. Intoxicating theater, indeed.

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