In the interest of preventing disappointment, I’ll tell you right now that Circle Jerk involves no onstage group masturbation. Soup Can Theatre’s upcoming show is, however, structured a bit like a daisy chain. Each in the series of four plays was assigned an opening and closing line that does double duty, closing one show and opening the next.
Up-and-comer Brandon Crone, a recent National Theatre School graduate, was one of the four artists selected to write pieces. His contribution, Maypole Rose, follows one evening with a gay couple who’ve decided to spark a splif and do the deed. As the THC flows through their veins, things get strange. One starts to believe he’s a monkey, and they both take turns giving head to a banana.
“It sounds more sensational than it actually is,” Crone says. “It turns out to be a fascinating, intimate world between two men that’s honest, hilarious and incredibly moving. And I mean, come on. Who hasn’t practised on a banana before?”
Creating within the project’s textual limitations sounds like a daunting task. Imagine trying to write a cohesive short play that starts and ends with lines like “What’s Bulgarian for slut?” or “I think it’s time we talked about your filthy rituals.” But it was precisely those restrictions that attracted Crone to the project originally.
“It was actually relatively painless because you already have a beginning and an ending that you know you have to incorporate,” he says. “I know not every artist enjoys them, but I actually love limitations. I feel like they really ignite creativity. Except those times when the bar cuts me off.”
Collaborative endeavours can sometimes play like communal masturbation, everyone stroking each other’s egos and revelling in their own self-satisfaction. This particular project involves three separate companies and almost 20 artists collaborating. So how would Crone describe the process?
“It was a bit like Eyes Wide Shut,” he says. “A flurry of perpetual Dionysian orgies with freaky masks and backward monastic chants, providing a gangbang of multiple stimuli where there’s always something to grab. That’s how I recall the experience anyway.”