Charm City Fringe Review: ‘Yo, You Be Trippin! An Incomplete but Not Inaccurate Story of LSD in the USA’

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LBJ took the IRT down to Fourth Street USA

Having participated in the Charm City Fringe Festival (“Fringe”) last year, Chad Short – a soon-to-be graduate of the University of Maryland Baltimore County Theatre program – was motivated to enter something into consideration for this year’s Fringe. The Fringe will do that to you; it can be addictive – like some kind of mind-expanding drug. Short enlisted the help of UMBC Professor Alan Kriezenbeck to act as Facilitator, and started gathering a diverse group of actors who might be interested in creating a piece of theater for this year’s festival. The result, months later, is Yo, You Be Trippin! An Incomplete but Not Inaccurate Story of LSD in the USA, (“Yo, You Be Trippin”) an enjoyable (and educational!) offering at this year’s Fringe.

Yo, You Be Trippin is devised theater, meaning that the actors didn’t simply pick a script they liked and then prepare it for performance. They developed one. Devised theatre is a collaborative creation where the script is generated over time by a group of people, often using improvisational techniques to generate and test out ideas. The collaborators literally don’t know what the play is going to be when they begin the project. In this case, the group gathered with the notion of doing something about dreams or hallucinations and it evolved into very funny – and accurate – history of LSD in the United States.

For the uninitiated, LSD – commonly referred to as ‘acid’ – is a chemical compound: Lysergic Acid Diethylamide. It is a psychedelic drug, now legally listed as a Schedule I controlled substance, that alters the user’s sensory experience and perceptions. It causes hallucinations, auditory and visual effects, and feelings of euphoria and connection that devotees find downright groovy, man. Unless the user has a bad trip, which is decidedly not groovy. LSD is typically used for recreational or spiritual purposes.

The group, dubbed The Hallucination Project, extensively researched the invention and subsequent emergence and popularity of LSD. They found some unharmonious vibes between Albert Hoffman (Ramon Burris) – the Swiss chemist who originally synthesized LSD in the late 30’s and American psychologist, writer, and counterculture philosopher, Timothy Leary (Chad Short, who doubles as the delightfully sassy Cat in the Hat). Much of the play revolves around the differing opinions of these men on how LSD should be used. Also included in the piece is the CIA, which did a series of extremely not groovy mind control experiments on (sometimes unknowing) human subjects through a program called MK Ultra in the 1950s and 60s.

The collaborators in the creation of Yo, You Be Trippin were Chad Short, Leah White, Shubhangini Kuchibhotla, Toby Frevert, Scott Seiss, Sydney Knoll, Elizabeth Devine, Elizabeth Ung, Ramon Burris, and Prince Coley – the majority of whom are also in the ensemble of performers you’ll see at their show at Saint Mark’s Lutheran Church. Each performer does an excellent job. The sense of creative agency and community that arises in devised theater is evident in these talented young actors.

With the guidance of facilitator Alan Kriezenbeck, the group operates as a smoothly-functioning team. This is most beautifully observable in one of the play’s movement segments, where the ensemble moves in such seamless unison, they resemble an ocean wave washing over a single, seated actor. 

Yo, You Be Trippin! An Incomplete but Not Inaccurate Story of LSD in the USA is a well-crafted piece of theater devised by members of the newest wave of the Baltimore theater community. It is a great fit in the collection of unique and cutting edge works being showcased at the Charm City Fringe Festival. So grab some orange juice and head down to St. Mark’s for one of the final performances of this fun and enlightening show!

Running Time: Approximately 45 minutes.

Yo, You Be Trippin! An Incomplete but Not Inaccurate Story of LSD in the USA plays through November 13, 2016, at the Fifth Annual Charm City Fringe Festival, performing at Saint Mark’s Lutheran Church, Downstairs – 1900 Saint Paul Street, in Baltimore, MD. Tickets, and required Fringe buttons, can be purchased at the box office or online.

Only two performances left:             

Today! Sunday, November 13 at 12:30 PM

Today! Sunday, November 13 at 4:00 PM

Parking is abundant and free at the St. Mark’s Lutheran Church parking lot on 20th Street, across from the venue.

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LINKS:
Get Your Fringe On! Fifth Annual Charm City Fringe Festival Preview by Patricia Mitchell. 

Charm City Fringe Review: ‘The Shoemaker’s Holiday’ at Baltimore Shakespeare Factory by Patricia Mitchell. 

Charm City Fringe Review: ‘The Pink Hulk: One Woman’s Journey to Find the Superhero Within’ by Patricia Mitchell.

Charm City Fringe Review: ‘One Man Apocalypse Now by Patricia Mitchell. 

Charm City Fringe Review: ‘God: The One Man Show’ by Patricia Mitchell.

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