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No More Productions debuts with Social Maladies

Social Maladies: The Comedies

The short plays, films and musical compositions that make up Social Maladies: The Comedies capture the concerns of young artists in extreme close-up. Social Maladies is the inaugural show of Atlanta’s new theater company No More Productions and takes a skewed look at human foibles through every artistic means available, but especially theater.

“Ode to Addiction: Abuse-ical the Musical” features songs and dances about addictive behavior as seen through the eyes of a cokehead, two pyromaniacs and a necrophiliac. Fergus Evans’ “Manifesto of a Pissed Off Faggot” makes statements from the provocative (“When I suck cock, it’s a political action.”) to the droll (“I liked Rosie better when she was sweet and cuddly, too.”). The surreal short play “Sometimes Y” includes a cameo from Jesus Christ delivering a monologue from Richard III.

Social Maladies draws ideas and creativity from all over the map, which dovetails with No More Productions’ ambition to be a multi-disciplinary theater “collective.” “I think it’s important for the future of theater to incorporate as many genres as possible,” says Deisha Oliver, No More Productions’ artistic director. “We’re aiming for a way to cohesively unite all these media. Film and theater are such separate genres — the artists often don’t have anything to do with each other — it’s fascinating to see them come together.”

The program begins with about 90 minutes of theatrical vignettes and sketches, followed by at least an hour of locally produced short films (none of which were made specifically for this show). Social Maladies co-director Joel Cammet says about half the films will be from Atlanta-based film collective Fake Wood Wallpaper, and the rest from independent directors, such as his own short “Bookworm.” “I tried to pick films with themes in common to the theatrical half of the evening,” says Cammet. “All have the same kind of sublime, quirky sense of humor that Fake Wood Wallpaper specializes in, and they try to find the humanity in absurd situations.”

In addition, Cammet plays bass and Oliver the cello in the evening’s “house band,” which includes violin/accordionist Ana Balka and percussionist Mike Poteet. Oliver explains that the musicians will perform before, after and during some of the plays, and that “the improvisation is loosely sculpted around circus music with a darker edge.” A framing device with Brian Bowlin and Diana Brown as a “sad-clown master of ceremonies and his faithful assistant” should emphasize the cabaret vibe.

Social Maladies promises to be a show built along the lines of Out of Hand Theater’s self-developed 30 Below and its mix of the silly and the serious. But while young Emory alums make up Out of Hand, No More Productions’ artists came together at Georgia State University. Oliver, a 27-year-old Georgia State undergrad who spent three years as a director and lighting designer at Whole World Theater, says that the group’s eight core members originally connected out of a desire to be more productive. “When we first got together, it was a cry just to do more work. There’s only so much you can do through school.”

The average age of No More Productions’ members is 22, and they bring a youth-minded perspective to the theater scene. “I think that theater sometimes is inaccessible, especially when you have tickets that are $20-$40,” says Oliver. “If you’re a student, you’re poor, but if you’re studying theater, you have to see theater. So our ticket price will be $8, the same as going to a movie.”

So why the name “No More Productions”? “We think of it as ‘no more mass-produced product,’” says Oliver, who adds that the group is dedicated to developing only original work in the future. “We definitely want to do self-generated pieces. There’s a need for more original work in Atlanta. Eyedrum has a policy that musicians can’t perform covers but only their own material, and that’s like how we want to be.”