Lights! Camera! Action! Wait...this is theater, right?
It's easy to forget - and I mean that in a good way - when watching a video of a sock puppet sexily breathing out atrocities while behind me a heavily painted woman in a baseball bat is defending a man decked head to toe in armor made from Mac Computer casings. Welcome to "Fight Girl Battle World."
THE ALLEY THEATER
You'll find The Alley Theater in a building that reeks of sawdust and fresh paint. Once upon a time, it was Kahn's Carpet Warehouse, but now it's undergoing a slow transformation into The Butchertown Pointe - a complex of mostly loft style vast open space offices leaning heavily towards alternative tenants. It has the ambiance of an old 1990's Dot Com Boom building that was repossessed after bankruptcy court. Lots of exposed wires and beams, interestingly shaped spaces, and occasional bits of inflatable furniture combined with lots of late night hours fueled by caffeine and determination.
The Alley Theater opened in The Butchertown Point on October 1, 2009.
"I'd been out of theater for awhile," said owner Scott Davis. "I used to have the Alley Theater on Baxter back in the 90's. About 3 years ago I was producing film festivals at JCTC, where I teach film and video. My partner at the time really wanted to do theater and talked me back into it. We went down to Coyotes and they literally said, 'We just built a theater. Let's get started!' We began with cabaret, which did okay, but mostly the experience let me know this really was the time to get back into theater.
When Coyotes closed I started randomly looking around. My old theater was up for lease, so I called the landlord. It had more than tripled in price for half the space available when I was renting it. But he said wait, wait, there's this great new space down in Butchertown. You should check it out. I thought, 'Youv'e got to be kidding me.' I checked it out anyway. It was way too big and the building wasn't finished yet. There was no way. I told the owner, 'I have $160 in the bank. I'm opening a theater and can't guarantee we'll make anything.' He took the offer. He really wanted to have a theater in here to complete the atmosphere and the space."
SOMETIMES YOU NEED TO REINVENT THE WHEEL
You'll never find a production of "Annie" at The Alley Theater. Davis takes pride in offering audiences a live experience you can't get anywhere else in Louisville - even if that means going home bruised.
"I found the script for 'Fight Girl Battle World' when I was looking in New York, Chicago and LA for what they call alternative theater that works. I don't want to do what other people are already doing. I don't have anything against Modern American Realism, I don't have anything against serial comedies, but in order to justify our existence it doesn't make sense to do what someone else is already doing. Finnegans is all original stuff that they developed. That's great - so we won't do that. The Necessary Theater has everything normal covered. They do a great job with it. 'Evil Dead' and 'Vampire Lesbians of Sodom' are the closest we get to standard theater fare."
Let's put this in perspective. What he calls borderline standard fare included a bonus rain poncho for audience members who sat in the bloody splash zone at "Evil Dead: The Musical." I saw "Fight Girl Battle World" at their preview night. I freely admit I'm a sucker for campy science fiction, so this was entirely up my alley. I've never seen anything like it done live before. They did a fantastic job making an immerse experience out of a show with purposefully cheezy costumes and props straight out of a low budget 60's SF film - though I don't remember quite so many transsexuals in "The Navy versus The Night Monsters." More's the pity. While a conversation was going on in the space ship, prisoners would escape from the jail across stage and the next thing I knew a fight scene would break out behind me. I was constantly twisting in my chair to keep up with everything. If I shouted for her attackers to duck, I had no doubt the actress who played E-V would drag me out of my chair and use me as a human shield.
"That bat hurts! It's tiring. We're all sore. None of us had any real fight experience, so we had to learn all our stage combat for this show," said Davis. "Fight Girl Battle World makes the complications in "Evil Dead" look like a cakewalk. We thought it would just be the stage fighting, but we had to add a crew person because there were so many sound cues. There's so much going on all at the same time - sound, lights, fights, shadowboxes. It's the only theater script I've ever read with 'cut to' used repeatedly - and they mean it! It's cinematic."
It's also awesome. Don't take my word on it. Go see "Fight Girl Battle World" yourself this weekend at The Alley Theater.
March 26, 27, 28
March 26, 27, 28
$16/$12 with student ID
In the spirit of keeping people happy, they boast a very convienient outdoor smoking space (it's closer than the bathrooms) as well as entire bottles of wine for only $15.