The Dien Bien Phu Experimental Theatre Company was founded with one goal: to push the boundaries of what Theatre could be. We wanted people to see our shows and think to themselves, “Huh, I had no idea that theatre could do that,” and “why did I let my coworker talk me into coming to this?” That’s why our company’s mission is to make our audience feel as unsafe as possible; and thus we use every moment of Theatre as an opportunity to betray our audience’s trust.
The Dien Bien Phu Experimental Theatre Company has redefined the frontiers of theatre, time and time again. Take for instance, our recreation of the American “classic,” The Music Man. Perhaps you heard about the 15-minute sexual assault scene that we added to our production, which lasted right up to intermission. Perhaps you also heard that this intermission was signaled only by all of our actors freezing in place throughout the house, forcing the audience to squeeze past us as they exited to the lobby where they could buy soft drinks from the concession stand that we decorated as a dead Osama Bin Laden.
We are nothing if not a thoughtful group, dedicated to the craft of performing stage combat that we never rehearse — with actual knives. And we continue to explore new ways to incorporate MIXED MEDIA into our performances — such as our projection of actual surgery footage onto our re-imagining of Mary Poppins. Furthermore, we usually forbid an actor to take the stage unless he/she is already crying. And of course, dogs. Lots and lots of untrained dogs are always in our shows.
This is the future of Theatre. This is what the people need to see. Not actors speaking to each other, standing at a safe distance from the audience. But rather actors screaming words directly into the faces of the audience members, until they respond. The world does not need more Theatre on a stage, but rather more Art that takes place after an audience has been dragged into a parking lot, forced to lie down in each parking space, and doused with gasoline so it Knows How It Feels To Be An American Automobile. And of course, our Society does not need more actors saying what is written on a page, but rather a Theatre company dedicated to saying whatever it wants on stage at all times, completely freed from the tyranny of “the script.”
Perhaps you recall the instance one of our cast members “had a seizure.” The terror, the confusion, the total commitment the rest of our cast displayed! We convinced you, did we not, that her seizure was real? We even raised the house lights and had a stage manager call an ambulance. Then when our actor stood up and revealed that she had suffered no such malady, we chastised you all for sitting idly by while someone near you was dying… just like you do every day. When the medics from the ambulance finally arrived, we had all changed into the costumes of a Puritan mob so that we could try the actual EMT’s for witchcraft. Yes, we have been to prison for our Theatre — and we had to be bailed out by our parents. But is not Society a prison, with its only bail our ART?
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