Secret performances

May 9th, 2013  |  Published in Uncategorized

In a thread about recent shutdowns of houses doing DIY shows in Chicago and the best way to balance keeping things on the downlow and still accessible, someone shared this awesome piece of history from The Missoula Oblongata:

At the time, Missoula’s punk and DIY community was undergoing a crackdown by the fire marshal, who had systematically shut down almost every local venue that wasn’t a bar. This meant there was no affordable and accessible place for young people to organize concerts, art shows, or events. When people responded to this by organizing shows in their own houses, the fire marshal found the houses, shut down the shows, and threatened arrests.

In response to this strange and grave situation, The Missoula Oblongata’s first production was a performance of Macbeth, which we held in secret in the basement that we’d been renting out for rehearsing. The space was only accessible through an unmarked door hidden in an alley. There was no public advertising for the performance. The performers (local artists and friends who had never been in a play before) each handed out sealed invitations to people they knew (not including the fire marshal, with whom we were all now well acquainted). The invitations instructed them to meet at The Oxford (a local dive) on April 6th at 8pm wearing a red carnation. Sure enough, on that day, at 8pm, an usher dressed like a skeleton arrived and escorted the entire carnation-wearing horde from The Oxford to the alley and the unmarked door, and then down into the basement to watch the play.