Dallas — A small crazed female detective in a trench coat pulls you on to stage and blasts a series of questions at you. She pronounces every "r" as a "w" and the spotlight under which you're being interrogated rises up out of the back of his coat. This is Butt Kapinski, the preposterous private dick—a twisted mix of Sam Spade by way of Elmer Fudd. It also happens to be the creation of Los Angeles-based performer Deanna Fleysher. Her one-person show Butt Kapinski, named for the character, aims to bust open the usual presumptions about audience participation.
“Most people hate audience interaction in a show, and usually so do I. The performer does it annoyingly, the audience member has to leave the comfort of their seat, and usually it involves making the ‘volunteer’ a laughing stock,” says Fleysher. “My show aims to change our feelings about audience participation.”
In fact, having taken the show to festivals all over the North American continent, Fleysher has found that making the audience full, celebratory participants in the show makes the piece even more engaging.
“As an interactive comedian, I used to be frustrated by the divide between the stage and the audience. How can you truly connect with the audience when you can’t get close to them, without leaving your light, that is?”
So, Fleysher found a way to take the light with her.
“That is when I invented the portable streetlight. Strap that baby to my back, and bammo! The show goes where I go,” says Fleysher.
During the show, Fleysher goes everywhere. The stage itself doesn’t confine her. As she zig-zags through the nourish murder mystery scenario that the audience gleefully creates along with her, the whole notion of a one-person show is turned on its head.
“It is a solo show, starring the whole audience. How many solo shows can say that?”
» Butt Kapinski, which is for adult audiences only, plays at the following times at the Margo Jones Theatre:
- Thursday, May 22, 10:30 p.m.
- Friday, May 23, 7:30 p.m.
- Saturday, May 24, 9 p.m.
» To see a full festival schedule, go here