The man at the center of the mayhem. Photo from Rich Cotovsky’s Facebook page.
Mary-Arrchie, a storefront ensemble with close to three decades of critically hailed in-your-face productions, will hold its Abbie Hoffman Died For Our Sins festival this weekend, August 14th - 16th. The annual event involves veteran and fledgling groups from across Chicago’s vibrant theatre community gathering at the Mary-Arrchie’s 735 W. Sheridan Road home base. It has almost been around as long as the theatre itself, having sprung to life just two years after Mary-Arrchie was founded.
Once again, the official kickoff will be a hippie-infused rally in Daley Plaza at 2:00 PM on Friday afternoon. This will lead to a march to the Mary-Arrchie Theatre at the corner of Broadway and Sheridan Road, just south of Irving Park Road. Artistic Director Rich Cotovsky will once again resurrect his impersonation of Yippie leader Abbie Hoffman. I’ve seen the Opening Ceremony several times, and it’s simultaneously spooky and fun how he emerges from a casket after being brought onstage by a fervent team of cast members.
Each year, Cotovsky/Hoffman oversees a chaotic and virtually nonstop barrage of drama, comedy, music, and performance art that he jokingly concedes he shouldn’t be able to pull off. But somehow he always does. I performed there for 20 years with the Famous In The Future comedy group, and I’ve continued to go every year since. The participants develop a sense of community among themselves, as well as with the audience members who have become Abbie Fest regulars.
This year, Famous In The Future will present a mix of skits and songs titled Organic Free-Range Non-Genetically Modified Comedy on Saturday night. They’re the only group other than the Mary-Arrchie to have participated in every single Abbie Fest; FIF founder Frank Carr and Rich Cotovsky are the only performers who have managed that feat. Also on Saturday, Abbie Fest veterans Black Forest will present their latest original avant garde comedy piece And Now. Mary-Arrchie will perform Arlene Cook’s Gas Mask 101 and Matt Borczon’s Wild Dogs, both of which are showcases for the theatre company’s hard-edged approach.
Other performers include Rush Pearson; The Plagiarists; Dramageddon; Democracy Burlesque; Revolution Theatre; Iguana Productions; Indie Boots Theatre; and Trained Monkey Productions. The full schedule, voluntarily put together by Frank Carr, can be found on the Famous In The Future website. Also, the Abbie Hoffman Died For Our Sins Facebook page has updates and informative posts from the various acts involved in the festival.
Tickets are $10 for an all-day pass and $25 for a weekend pass.