Another month has come and gone and that means it’s time for yet another premiere at Louisville’s The Alley Theater. Debuting this Thursday evening (Dec 29), ‘Some Things You Need to Know Before the World Ends (A Final Evening with the Illuminati)’ is set in a church on the eve of the apocalypse, with Reverend Eddie delivering his final sermon alongside his assistant Brother Lawrence and a fervent congregation (as played by the audience). As described by the Alley, what follows is a series of crazy skits, “such as Saint Paul and Saint Timothy discussing the role of women in religion and […] a whacked-out game of basketball against the most formidable of opponents: Death.
Written by Larry Larson and Levi Lee, ‘…Illuminati’ made a huge splash in Louisville at the Humana Festival of New American Plays in 1986 and has since cemented its place as a regional theater staple across the country. Director Joey Arena has found himself at the reins of this latest iteration of ‘…Illuminati’ to grace the Derby City and recently sat down with LouisvilleKY.com for a brief interview:
LouKY: How did you become involved with this production? Had you had any previous exposure to this piece or others from Larson and Lee?
Arena: In 1986 when Illuminati pre-premiered at the Humana Festival I was working in the box office at Actor’s Theater. I went to see it opening night and loved it so much I saw it again every night of the festival. I had previously seen their play “Tent Meeting” at an earlier Huama Fest and loved it as well. We had been discussing doing the show at The Alley for years and it was just the right time, what with the world ending in 2012 and all… And I would have been royally pissed if I wasn’t allowed to direct it.
As for the venue… This play takes place in an abandoned dilapidated church, which in my over 15 years experience with The Alley could describe most of our theaters without building a single set piece. Seriously though, this is the sort of play we used to do in the first days of the theater.. character driven, slightly odd, and a hair of controversy thrown in for our own amusement. It raises some interesting questions and deserves to be done more than it has been.. it’s definitely an “Alley Theater style” show.
Arena: There’s really no specific audience that I think would get more out of this than any other. It’s a comedy, it’s religious based but doesn’t denigrate it any more than it exalts it. I think it’s a show for people who like to think and like to laugh. Regardless of your religious upbringing we all know most of the references and forms, and I’m most interested to see who the audience sympathizes with the most between the two characters. I’m also very interested in seeing how my version stands up to my fond memories of the original without it being a total rip-off of the original director’s vision. And props. This show has some really weird props.
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