'Thirst: The No Round': Drink, be entertained, and fight the marriage amendment

Peter Sagal.
Peter Sagal.
Photo by Anthony Nagelmann

With the election only weeks away and the marriage amendment too close to call, plenty of forces have been arrayed to stand against it, including the folks at Thirst Theatre. The latest edition of Thirst: The No Round, brings an evening of short scenes about relationships to Eat Street Social in Minneapolis.

The creators include Peter Sagal (NPR's Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me), Bill Corbet (MST3K and Rifftrax), Allegra Lingo, Jim Robinson, Joseph Scrimshaw, Jim Lichtscheidl, and Sarah Gubbins. A slew of top actors, including Randy Reyes, Sarah Agnew, Tracey Maloney, Anna Sundberg, and Emily Guyou Halaas have been brought in to perform.

We caught up with Scrimshaw to get the details on the show.

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How did the idea come together? Did it start with the marriage amendment, or were there a number of ideas that already existed that seemed to fit under the relationship banner?

Joseph Scrimshaw: The last round of Thirst was in winter of 2010 so Tracey Maloney, Chris Carlson, and I have been looking for a time to bring it back. We all feel strongly about the amendment, so this seemed like a good time.

In terms of creative ideas related to the amendment, my sort of political and artistic perspective are really similar: That regardless of age or orientation the experience of being in a romantic relationship is very universal.

So in order to highlight that and create an evening of really fun, bizarre little plays, I asked the writers to each do a piece about relationships. Without too much meddling, we ended up with exactly what we wanted -- little scenes of relationships at all different stages, orientations, and even some romance between people who are technically dead.

What kind of experience will people have at the show?

It's like dinner theater without a stage. People will be eating and drinking, and then a couple will start talking loudly about their relationship problems. Nine times out of 10 that will be a planned scene between the actors.

How do the different authors tackle these issues?

A couple of the pieces deal directly with the very current issue of marriage equality, but most of them just have a sense of fun and celebration about the joy and conflicts of being in a relationship.

I wrote a framing monologue that will be performed by Randy Reyes. He's had a fight with his fiancee. He's offended that she called him kind. He thinks "kind" translates to weak so he's decided to go to a random bar and cause trouble. To me, it's a fun way to look at the
amendment issue. We need to be brave and pro-active and sometimes angry to make these social and legal changes, but ultimately the idea of equality is about kindness. It's about celebrating the things that unite us as opposed to making laws based on our differences.

There are a lot of shows dealing with these issues around right now -- any worry of amendment fatigue in the weeks leading to the vote?

I'm getting my hands dirty working on the plays right now. I wrote the piece for Randy, I'm directing the piece Peter Sagal wrote, and I'm performing in the piece Bill Corbett wrote, so I'm spending a lot of time with these ideas.

And one of the great things about this collection of plays is that while they do address the specific issue, they're much bigger than just this amendment. We could do this same round of plays a year from now and it would just read as an evening of plays about the triumphs and failures of relationships.

The evening does have a cause behind it, and we do want to encourage people to be pro-active about defeating the amendment. So we are hitting people over the head, but we're hitting them very gently and elegantly.

As far as political theater goes, this evening of short plays will be like being massaged over the head with a velvet hammer. Plus, there will be beer.


Thirst: The No Round
7 p.m. Mondays, Oct. 1, 8, and 15
Eat Street Social
18 W. 26th St., Minneapolis
For tickets, visit online
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Eat Street Social

18 W. 26th St.
Minneapolis, MN 55408


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