A highly ambitious theater performance dropped Wednesday night in L.A., one that has the aim of helping to revitalize the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Performed in a reading by members of the Sacred Fools theater company, Mr. Satan Goes to Wall Street is a full-blown musical satire that's a wistful paean to that brief moment in our history. But Camelot it ain't.
You've got to bring a thorough knowledge of events leading to and around the Occupy protests to appreciate the lyrics. Since former Treasury Secretary and Obama White House appointee Larry Summers has cast the world into economic misery by lifting banking regulations, according to the show, Summers is doing Satan's work for free. So God fires Satan. “You stole my job,” Satan sings to Summers. To earn it back, Satan brokers a deal with Summers. He must go to Zuccotti Park in New York and break up Occupy Wall Street by ending an affair between two young occupiers — a college dropout and a union organizer.
The hourlong show shines with 10 witty, lyrical pop tunes, tightly crafted with journalistic details documenting elements of the Occupy protests that ended eight months back; pepper-spraying cops, Chipotle-loving media and food-obsessed vegan activists are referenced in a show that is intended for an August production in Zuccotti Park. Permit or no permit, writing team Sam Precario and Hieronymous Bang say they'll pull it off, and also move the show to the streets surrounding the upcoming Republican and Democratic conventions in Tampa, Fla., and Charlotte, N.C., respectively.
The evening's reading was a fundraiser for the tour cast with Bang's Imagination Liberation Front troupe, and the musical will return to an L.A. theater setting if things work out.
Bang, an Austin, Texas-based playwright whose previous work won raves from this newspaper (L.A. Weekly theater critic Steven Leigh Morris cited the political comedy I'm Gonna Kill the President!: A Federal Offense as among the best L.A. theater productions of 2005), crafted Mr. Satan as guerrilla theater.
Pulling off the production under street conditions will be a challenge. “If we have to go from street corner to street corner, we'll perform our play,” Bang tells LA Weekly. “We're not eager to get locked up, but that's one of the factors we've considered. We believe we can get our message out without that happening.”
Guerrilla theater has colorfully played a part in the recent political dialogue, notably the Billionaires for Bush — top-hatted and tiara-wearing culture jammers who garnered media fame perplexing passersby by pretending to be wealthy George W. Bush supporters on the streets of New York. Reverend Billy and his Church of Stop Shopping stage performances in which a robed choir belting anti-consumer hymns in public spaces.
Bang distances himself from those efforts; his is straight-up musical theater. “What distinguishes what we do? We don't adhere to sloppy street-theater mentality,” he says, adding that Mr. Satan's production values will be “sending a message that maybe this movement is more organized than anyone thought, and can create something meaningful.” Moreover, the intent is to rekindle the outrage at economic disparity that Occupy launched. “We can inspire people, get them to say, 'That's a funny thing they did about Larry Summers, I'm going to learn about him.'”
For more information on the show, visit its website mrsatangoestowallstreet.blogspot.com.