How to be Cool runs July 23-August 8, Thu-Sat at 7 pm, at Open Circle Theatre, 2222 2nd Avenue, in Belltown, Seattle.
We'll also be performing for one night only at the Bullit Theatre at ACT on August 9th as part of a special fundraiser for GRACE, the Global Resource for Advancing Cancer Education.
Tickets are available for both the events at the door of the theaters. You can also order tickets for the fundraiser at the link below.
The show: it’s 1962, and the students at Oakvale High School are getting more than they could have imagined today during their Civics Class. So’s the Civics teacher, as she hands them over to Eugene Wright, a man so filled with thoughts about the future, politics, ethics, and consumer culture that he can scarcely contain himself. He shows slides. He tells stories. And though he sure doesn’t look cool, he just might be onto something.
How to Be Cool is written and directed by John Longenbaugh, Ursa Major’s artistic director, and features Evan Whitfield. The show was originally performed at the 2003 Fringe Festival and then revived for a run at Theatre Bablyon, a tour of the Kitsap Peninsula, and a performance at the 2004 Bumbershoot.
Some sample reviews:
What is cool? Is it a look? A style? A certain something that can't be bought or borrowed? The definition of "cool" that goes beyond superficial hipness is the marrow of "How To Be Cool." The one-act show features Evan Whitfield as Eugene Wright, a scholarly gentleman of the early 1960s whose knowledge, from politics to pop culture and consumerism, is vast and colorful. Through a slide show that examines local politicos and pop-culture icons, like Elvis sightings at the 1962 World Fair, Wright leads an attentive class at Oakvale High School through a brief history of "cool."
Music is integral to being cool. Considering the era during which "How To Be Cool" is set, it makes sense that the soundtrack would be of the period, and records — vinyl, not CDs — are the rule. Festival-goers are encouraged to bring along their own 45s to spin, although Wright's monologue — not the music — is the driving force of the piece.
Local actor Whitfield captures Eugene Wright's propensity to pontificate with aplomb as he flees from topic to topic without tripping up.
"How To Be Cool" is educational and entertaining, a combination that is, unequivocally, pretty cool.— Tina Potterf, Seattle Times
..In John Longenbaugh's cute comedy, "How to be Cool," Evan Whitfield was convincing as the totally uncool nerd with glasses and skinny tie invited by a prim teacher to talk to her high school class. In sleekly strung language that linked its Kennedy-era period to present issues--from war and animal rights to drugs and social conformity--"How to be Cool" was, heck, pretty darn cool.—Paul deBarros, Seattle P.I.
“How To Be Cool” is a delightfully kooky and inspiring snapshot of one man’s search for the essence of something he may not be able to achieve, but which he believes in to the core of his being. To paraphrase the old adage, “he may not be cool, but he knows it when he sees it.”—Chris Comte, Theatre.seattle.com
…A refreshing, earnest pleasure. Audience members become students in Miss Taylor’s 1962 high school class on the day that Eugene Wright visits to deliver a special lecture on Cool. For an enchanting hour, Mr. Wright speaks of his trip to the Seattle World’s Fair, of the starry-eyed possibilities of a magic technical future, and of the dance he neglected to invite Miss Taylor to attend with him years ago. Judging from this smart and delightful piece, playwright John Longenbaugh seems very cool, despite his program notes’ claim to the contrary.—Michael Bracey, threeimaginarygirls.com
Back for two nights only is the show The Stranger most regrets missing from last year's Fringe Fest: How to Be Cool, John Longenbaugh's two-character (plus the audience) comedy about music, monkeys, and the Culture of Cool circa 1962.—David Schmader, The Stranger.