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Creator Yanks 'Too Much Light' From Neo-Futurists To Increase Cast Diversity

By Stephen Gossett in Arts & Entertainment on Dec 1, 2016 12:51AM

"Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind" turns 25 years old this year. Photo Credit: Melody Kramer

Greg Allen, the creator of Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind—one of the longest-running shows in Chicago history—is pulling the show from the company he co-founded. He announced on Wednesday his intentions to “rebrand” the show on his own with an added emphasis on diversity, spurred in part by the election of Donald Trump.

The show, which Allen launched with the Neo-Futurists in 1988, has become one of Chicago’s defining theatrical institutions, presenting its famous marathon of “30 plays in 60 minutes,” chosen at random with audience participation.

According to a release quoted in Time Out, Allen’s new, overhauled vision of TMLMTBGB will take an even more explicitly political bent:

“Faced with the pending inauguration of Donald J. Trump, Allen has decided to let the existing Chicago Neo-Futurists’ license come to an end so that he can rebrand the show with a new diverse ensemble that embraces a specifically socially activist mission.”

“I could no longer stand by and let my most effective artistic vehicle be anything but a machine to fight Fascism," Allen said. "I was searching for an artistic response to the firestorm to come and realized I had to put my strongest artistic foot forward to combat the Trump administration and all of its cohorts."

The new version “will be comprised entirely of people of color, LBTQ+, artist/activist women, and other disenfranchised voices in order to combat the tyranny of censorship and oppression.”

A higher-up with the Neo-Futurists, from which Allen departed in 2012, acknowledged professional and "personal" tensions, and said Allen hadn't consulted the company about his final decision. Artistic Director and Ensemble Member Kurt Chiang said in a statement to Chicagoist:

"The Neo-Futurists were surprised that Greg Allen chose to announce independently of our company and without collaboration with our Board and staff that he no longer intends to license the trademark Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind at our theater. For the past year, the company entered into negotiations in good faith about continuing this facet of our work together. While we are disappointed that it has come to this conclusion, throughout our long history with Greg there have been considerable artistic differences and irreconcilable personal conflicts."

Too Much Light—as we know it, at least—closes on Dec. 31. The Neo-Futurists plan to debut a new late-night show in 2017. No word yet on when or where Allen's new take will reside.