Neo-Futurist Production Sets Model for Post Pandemic Theater Creation

Chicago prepares for its next phase of recovery without a firm date for resuming indoor performing arts events, The Neo-Futurist Theater has pioneered a new model of operation. Rather than sharing content from past productions, the company has moved its flagship show The Infinite Wrench to a digital platform, now called The Infinite Wrench Goes Viral, presenting 30 digital plays in 60 minutes each week. The Neo-Futurist ensemble of writer-performers continue to work from home and produce new plays weekly, which are then filmed and shared with patrons who subscribe via the Patreon platform.  

Since its launch in late March, the new digital theater-making model has proven successful, with The Infinite Wrench Goes Viral currently bringing in 50% of the production’s pre-COVID-19 revenue. The production has more than 650 weekly subscribers from Chicago and across the country, significantly more patrons than The Neo-Futurists’ 147-seat theater can normally accommodate over a performance weekend. As a result of the success of this digital theater platform, The Neo-Futurists’ ensemble members, contracted artists and staff continue to receive payment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are overjoyed by the response thus far, and thrilled to be sharing our uniquely personal, non-illusory theater with a broader audience,” said Artistic Director Kirsten Riiber. “For 31 years, The Neo-Futurists have provided a space for audiences to come together and see their experience reflected to them with honesty; and this is one of those times where staying present with our audiences, who we’ve never been able to do our work without, is vital. We chose the low price point to make our work as inclusive as possible. Accessibility is central to our mission and we know many people are struggling financially right now.”

The Neo-Futurists are the creators of Chicago’s longest-running late night show and normally perform live 50 weeks per year. For The Infinite Wrench Goes Viral, the Neo-Futurist ensemble continues to produce personal, of-the-moment content that speaks to the performers’ lives in isolation and other current events. Recent digital plays span from the humorous to the insightful, and have included topics such as murder hornets, singing from balconies, penguins exploring new environments, socially distanced Olympic training, and early retirement.

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