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Ixion Theatre: Get me to the ‘Geeked’

Jamie Paisley
Lansing playwright Terry Palczewski

This weekend in Lansing’s REO Town, the Ixion Theatre explores the realm of all things geek through 5 world premiere short plays. But it poses a question whose answer keeps evolving: Is the word ‘geek’ a positive thing, or is it mainly a pejorative?

Is geek a positive or a negative term?

"So, geek's not so bad." - Ixion Theatre's jeff croff

"As a geek, I would agree. It, historically, has been a negative term." says jeff croff, artistic director of Lansing’s Ixion Theatre. "But I think the community itself has kinda taken it on and also celebrated the fact that what makes them geek makes them excited. Whether it's just one little niche of roll-playing game, or of Star Trek episode, they love being geeks. So, geek's not so bad."

Geek culture is at the center of Ixion’s 5 short plays being premiered this year at the Robin Theatre in REO Town. It’s part of a yearly competition that the Ixion puts on based on a central theme.

"We put out a call for scripts." explains jeff croff about the Ixion's process. "Short plays under 15 pages, minimal cast (max would be 4), and then minimal set constraints so we can go back and forth between all of the shows. They had until September 30th of last year. Then our committee went through two rounds of review and we've selected these 5 shows to bring to the stage."

[Audio from Ixion Theatre at rehearsal for 'Geeked.']

A bit of rehearsal for the play Cow by Scott Mullen. One of 47 scripts from across the US sent to the Ixion which jeff croff and company pared down to 5. However, only one of the 5 final “Geeked” plays turned out to be from a Michgan author.

"My name is Terry Palczewsk and I live in East Lansing, and I retired 12 years ago."

In preparation for retirement, Palczewski took classes that gave him some rather sage advice. "They recommended that you retire to something, not from something. And over the last 8 years I've been writing novels, short stories, and then really fell in love with writing plays."

The attraction to Ixion’s call for Geek plays hooked Terry fairly quickly. "The title caught me very quickly: Geeks and nerds. I've always been personally fascinated with labels that people put upon themselves or have put onto them by other people."

The self-labeling exploration took root with Palczewski during a trip to Comic-Con. "I remember seeing people that... they considered themselves geeks and they were carrying around these laptops. And also while I was there saw some people dressed all in black, and leather, and everything --- and they looked friendly enough, so I asked what they were. And they said they were ‘Goth!' And I said "Well, what does that mean?' They said "Well, it's the people that are really interested in the dark and mysterious things." But they don't come across as aggressive or nasty or anything like that. They actually seemed quite helpful and nice."

"[Goths] don't come across as aggressive or nasty or anything like that." - Michigan playwright Terry Palczewski

[Audio from Ixion Theatre at rehearsal for 'Geeked.']

A bit of Palczewski’s play about a nerd, a geek, and a goth exploring their labels in this short play called What We Do, part of Ixion Theatre’s "Geeked". The sampling of 5 new plays takes over the Robin Theatre in REO Town Lansing this weekend and next, where at least, the Geeked shall inherit the Ixion.

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