Gonzo Opens with Gusto

This article was published in the EMU WeatherVane, a student newspaper.

The Black Box filled with students anticipating the first Gonzo theater of the year Inside the University Commons, past Common Grounds and the Art Gallery last Thursday.

Gonzo Theater, known as Gonzo, is a student run theater group where students can write, direct, and act in short skits.

Because Gonzo is student run, student authors can create a somewhat uncensored outlet for students to address all topics, from sex, sexuality, identity, violence, drugs, etc. Gonzo host, Senior Elisha Keener, begins every Gonzo with a different co-host. This time, Sophomore Sierra Comer held up the trigger sign warning people of the sometimes explicit content to follow.

“We ask the audience to shut their eyes as the co-host performs a little musical number, and in this way we’ve created a fun little tradition while still providing students who feel uncomfortable the chance to leave unnoticed,” said Keener.

Gonzo also follows a tradition of candy breaks and door prize competitions. Past door prizes have included pumpkins, Gonzo inspired pieces, and various other themed items.

Competitions have included threelegged scavenger hunts and toilet paper mummy wrapping contests.

“Sometimes they don’t quite go exactly as planned, but everyone has a good time and our Smart Shopper provided door prizes are usually a big hit,” said Keener.

The inspiration for the month’s Gonzo is posted the Monday before the first Thursday of the each month. The writers are then given until midnight the night before the performance to email their scripts to Keener.

Keener then chooses scripts that fit the inspiration and distributes them to those who have expressed interest in directing, usually through Gonzo Theatre’s Facebook page.

Directors then have the rest of that day to gather actors and coordinate rehearsal.

“I love getting new people involved in Gonzo. There’s nothing like seeing fellow students challenge themselves and grow artistically through the opportunity this event has provided them,” said Keener.

The inspiration normally involves a visual as well as a short written prompt and can be found in the first floor lobby of the Campus Center.

The prompt for this first Gonzo was a painting of Groot from “Guardians of the Galaxy” with the following quote from “The Lord of the Rings” character, Treebeard:

“We might do some things together. I don’t know about sides. I go my own way; but your way may go along with mine for a while.”

“Whenever the Gonzo inspiration is first put up, I run over to the Campus Center and make sure that I see it and take pictures so that I can start thinking about any inspirations,” said Sophomore Jeremiah Hines.

Gonzo started out with a few short pieces that seemed to pair nicely together, the first two exploring the emotional turns of relationships and the experiences of grief.

In true Gonzo fashion, the skits then turned lighter and humorous to keep the mood from becoming too heavy too fast.

Favorites of the humorous side included a skit where a suggestive space pirate steals a talking plant that holds the future of a dying planet, wherein Hines played the hip-swaying bandit, and a skit of three word pick-up lines, where, of course, Groot swept all the ladies off their feet.

In the end, Gonzo pulled out a few more tear jerkers, the most heart shattering of these being about an old married couple. The husband suffers from Alzheimers, failing to recognize his wife, but speaks of her as a young woman who stole his heart away. The author signed simply, “A Grandchild.”

Gonzo remains, as ever, a place where students can express and hash out their thoughts and feelings, as well as a place where students can come to glean new ideas, support their friends, and relax after a long month of classes and work.

The next Gonzo is scheduled for Oct. 9.

– Hailey Halcomb, Sports Editor