The TechNonsense 2 Twenty-Third Anniversary
A bunch of crazy kids got together in 1992 and did the impossible, and I thank them.
I was back stage on opening night, waiting for everything to either begin, or abruptly end.
This was not a tried and true play being performed by yet another community theater group. No Neil Simon. No Agatha Christie. No rousing musical numbers that had been originally produced on Broadway. It was mine. I wrote it.
Heck, it was me. Even though I wasn’t in the first scene; there I was, all over the stage. From the audio currently playing throughout the theater in the darkness, to the simple cubes that would be various set pieces, shuffled around by stage hands that weren’t really stage hands at all, but just as integral to the production as the actors: It was all me.
It was 1992 and I was twenty-seven years old, waiting for the first laugh from the audience who had arrived to see something they probably didn’t even understand when they heard about it. TechNonsense? What the heck is that?
In fact, as I paced the floor, waiting for what seemed like forever, but was in reality about a minute-thirty, I wondered if I was actually nuts. Even though we hat tried this once before, and it did fairly well, this was a gamble: A giant projection television center stage, projectors on either side, and speakers all around, like a poor man’s Dolby surround theater. Comedy sketches with the actors on stage, pre-recorded video segments, and segments where people on stage would literally be talking to video counterparts of themselves on the big screen.
How did I even think this up? It was ludicrous to attempt. Today, if I said I wanted to do a stage production with video and audio cues, you would tell me to grab the appropriate files and load them up on a computer. Sure, it’s all doable – No problem…
But not in 1992. Technology was not yet up to snuff. My tech crew had two S-VHS video decks, as well as a true miracle of modern technology: An auto-search cassette deck for the audio cues. Old-fashioned video cable was running through a crappy Radio Shack video amplifier to the stage, barely producing a discernible picture on a ridiculously expensive 70-inch projection TV. Audio cables were run along the walls. It was amazing things even played, let alone played on cue. Old-fashioned Analog equipment wasn’t made for this – We had to force it.
I wasn’t the only one biting off more than I could chew; I had invited about twenty or so people to overindulge with me. Just like the audience currently sitting in the dark, the cast and crew pretty much had no idea what they were getting into, either. They trusted me.
And for me, it all rested on the first gag. Isn’t that how it works? If they laugh at the first gag, you have their attention. They are willing to take the ride. If it falls flat – well, it’s going to be a very long evening.
And for a supposedly high-tech production (as high-tech as you could be on a shoestring budget), I was depending on… Nothing. Audio playing out over a totally dark theater. You’re not supposed to throw it all out there at the beginning, after all – You were supposed to let it build… Right?
And, after darkness, there was a simple pratfall.
Yes, my high-tech production depended on a simple piece of 1930s vaudevillian schtick to get things rolling. The wordless equivalent of, “I’m taking my case to a higher court.” Good Lord, someone shoot me, now. They are going to boo this thing off the planet. I will be burned at the stake by home-grown wannabe big-time theater critics with torches and pitchforks. In black and white. Yes, the world will literally turn black and white after this travesty, and it will be all my fault. But that’s okay, after they kill me, the world will return to glorious technicolor, and things will be safe once again for theater-goers all over the world. Vince will never get the keys to society, and society will be the better for it.
But wait! There’s more! Get a load of the second gag: All the cool video stuff breaks down. The technical show that depends on all the technology to work, stops dead in its tracks.
Are they even going to get that? One thing I always told myself was, until you are doing a 20 zillion dollar blockbuster, NEVER make it purposely look like you are making mistakes – everyone will think you actually ARE making mistakes, because it’s NOT a 20 zillion dollar blockbuster. This isn’t high art, dimwit; stick to the Three Stooges, and leave the highbrow crap at the door…
It’s amazing what can run through your mind in only a minute and a half.
So I waited. And I paced. And I listened. It was all out of my hands, after all: The first cue was up. The tape was running, and the audience was listening. I was committed, and I really think I subliminally made sure I wasn’t the first person out. If I had been, I may never have actually stepped on the stage.
So, Bill Blane; motivational speaker, business guru and financial expert; the man dubbed “Mr. Lucky” by his ravenous followers because it seemed that he just couldn’t lose, stepped out onto the stage and grabbed the microphone to impart his amazing words of wisdom and personal cash-flow to the theater audience… Where he was promptly electrocuted, and dropped dead.
Thank God, someone laughed.
What follows below are the videos of the first and second act of TechNonsense 2, warts and all. Yes, it was rather bumpy. Yes, the video segments were low-budget. Yes, the graphics and animations are laughable by today’s standards. Yes, these recordings have been through the preverbal wringer, and have seen better days. But you can’t deny that a wonderful handful of people came together and created something downright amazing out of nothing in the ancient year of 1992. I thank them all, and will never forget pacing in the dark, all those years ago. It meant so much to me that they all came along for the ride, and would not have been possible without them.
You say you don’t want to watch the whole thing? I totally understand: Neither do I. Instead, try these three snippets from the show:
VRH Productions and Rialto Community Players Present: TechNonsense II – The Second Attempt
Written and directed by Vincent Hase.
Tim Ademic • Ken Blume • Chris Cordasco • Sandra Giannini • Shonda Gibbons • Steve Hamilton • Rosella King • Elmer Rivas • Randy Schuster • Tiffany Smith • Jack Warshaw
Vincent Hase • Jason Giacopelli • Mike Gibson • Ken Holme • Candy Kane • Shannda Smith • Jake Whitmore • Sharon Wilson
Special Video Guests:
Steve Hamilton • Edward Berggren
Production, script and video copyright 1992 by Vincent Hase – All rights reserved.
Original stage design by Vincent Hase. Completely changed and actually made functional by John Patrick.
Original Music by Walter Noon • Copyright 1992 by Walter Noon
Original Music by Eric Huff • Copyright 1992 by SPPLD
Performed June, 1992 at the Rialto Community Playhouse. Rialto, California.
Yes, you may hear a brief portion of Diane Schuur’s recording of “What a Difference A Day Makes” somewhere in the production, and see a re-purposed Death Star explosion. We had no singer, and ran out of budget. Please don’t sue – it wasn’t like we actually made any money on the stinking production, anyway – crikey…It was 23 years ago…Give it a rest…