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February 21, 2013 | Theatre,

The Debate Society: The Next Thing


The Debate Society is not only The Next Thing, it is The Current Thing. This company has blown up in the past year, garnering rave reviews and an exceptional reputation for producing fresh, innovative new work.

debate societyDriven by the creative minds of Hannah Bos, Paul Thureen and Oliver Butler, this theatre company pushes the boundaries of experimental theatre by “creating unexpected stories set in supremely intricate, vividly theatrical works.” Their work is complex and refreshingly trusts the audience enough to allow them to actively work to fully understand what they see on stage.

Blood Play, for example, is a smashing success of a dark thriller. Set in the early 1950s, the play captures a very specific moment in American history and focuses on a Jewish family moving from the South side of Chicago to a Jewish suburb in Skokie. From a series of coincidences, a spontaneous party erupts in the basement of the house. Despite the merriment, there is something sinisterly dark lurking in the shadows. Blood Play takes us on a journey of secrets and distorted realities that ends with shocking revelations and shifting perspectives, all the while keeping us on our toes with irresistible tension and impeccably timed humor.

One of the most fascinating parts of this presentation is that the world of the play originated with an old tale of male menstruation. Yes, I said it: male menstruation. Figure that one out. If this makes you a little uncomfortable, don’t worry—since then the tale has evolved from a literal interpretation to an informant of the general mood of the work. This fact just speaks to the originality and merit of The Debate Society’s process and motivations for making their art. It is subjects like these that never get written about…subjects that make for juicy, interesting, stimulating theatre. 

blood playThe Debate Society is the recipient of a 2012 Obie Grant, the winner of a 2010 “Village Voice Best of Award” for “Best Argument for Devised Theatre” and the 2012/13 Ars Nova Company in Residence. Hannah Bos was the recipient of a Six Points Fellowship to help fund Blood Play, which supports cutting edge work by Jewish artists exploring Jewish ideas and experience (a lot of the events that happen in the play are based on stories of Bos’s grandmother and mother).

Blood Play premiered last year at the Bushwick Starr and has since been featured at The Public Theater’s Under The Radar Festival this January. It made quite an impression in New York City and is certain to invoke a similar reaction in Boston and beyond. We’re excited and thoroughly pleased to welcome The Debate Society to The Next Thing Festival with what is certain to be a thought-provoking, barrier-breaking and satisfyingly, hilariously smart play.

Buy your tickets to Blood Play, presented from Feb. 21-23,  here. Don’t miss out, it is only playing for three performances during the TNT Festival!

If you’d like to see anything else in the Festival, the  festival pass admits you to see all of the groundbreaking companies and works: Vision Disturbance by New York City Players, A (radically condensed and expanded) Supposedly Funny Thing I’ll Never Do Again after David Foster Wallace by Daniel Fish, Birth Breath Bride Elizabeth by Sleeping Weazel, and Spring Training by UNIVERSES, as well as a concert with The Army of Broken Toys, The Shakespearean Jazz Show, films, workshops and more!

Andrea Gordillo is an Emerson BFA Acting’14 student and a Dramaturgy & Outreach Assistant at ArtsEmerson.

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