A night out

It’s an opportunity for a night to yourself–if you have kids, leave them at home.

Breathe the crisp night air, step confidently between twinkling city street lights and enjoy a night out at the theatre. Check your coat, take your seat and watch as a woman is sold at an auction while two prostitutes advertise in rhyme. Enjoy An Adult Evening of Shel Silverstein, care of the University of Calgary’s own Hidden Insanity.

Though better known to many as the children’s author responsible for The Giving Tree and other classic stories and poems, Shel Silverstein was a prolific writer with over 800 songs written for an adult market. His works were certainly not always G-rated.

In addition to his contributions to Playboy and his various works of adult prose and poetry, Silverstein was also a friend to and collaborator of David Mamet. In fact, it was his friendship with the famed playwright that eventually led to the exhibition of a series of his short works.

"The play was originally put on by Mamet after Shel died in 1999," explains Hidden Insanity’s artistic director Jonathan Chapman. "An Adult Evening of Shel Silverstein is a bunch of short plays that really show off his skill with language and dark humour, all intended for adults. It’s interesting to come back and watch a production like this, one written for grownups, as a grownup who has read Shel’s work for children."

Dark and surreal, the nine short plays that make up the evening include everything from bag lady evolution to willing slavery, and though this might seem out of place on the main stage of one of Calgary’s professional companies, Hidden Insanity feels ideally suited to the task.

"This one has the potential to really offend people," says Chapman. "These are sketches we would love to have written ourselves. When we rehearse, we sometimes end up breaking down and laughing."

It’s no surprise Hidden Insanity takes pleasure in keeping its members rolling on the floor alongside its audience. As a U of C club, Hidden Insanity takes students, alumni and non-students from all disciplines. For the members of this troupe, the love of the performance is the force that drives this night of bizarre, irreverent fun.

"You get an energy off of people just because they love it, and for a show like this that’s great," says Chapman. "I think more people would do this if they knew how accessible it is. It’s such a fun ride, such an escape."