Back in 2004, during the Republican Convention, a group of renegade theatre artists, helmed by the mysterious Hieronymous Bang, literally and figuratively broke into the New York Immersive Theatre scene with I’m Gonna Kill the President!: A Federal Offense. They performed anywhere they could: bars, alleys, basements, parks…anywhere. The show would pop up unannounced save for an equally mysterious “hotline,” (209) 375–0411, which led guests to the location for the night’s festivities.
Now it’s 2018, everything old is (perhaps tragically) new again, and the successor to Hieronymous Bang (also conveniently named Hieronymous Bang) is bringing the underground political satire to Los Angeles for 2018, hopefully without a visit from the Secret Service this time. Haunting caught up with Bang via email to ask a few questions about the production.
Tell us about the gestation of I’m Gonna K the P. Where did the original idea come from?
We were in NYC during 9/11. Those first few days afterwards were kind of amazing in the city, with everyone showing each other so much love and care. Then George W. Bush made his speech (“you’re either with us or you’re against us”), and suddenly we had people beating up Muslims and ready to go to war. It was horrible. We saw just how bad and bloodthirsty the Bush regime was, and how many citizens were ready to go along with it. But absent social media and the like, there wasn’t a lot of creative work being done in opposition to Bush and the war. The Daily Show was there, but that was about it.
So we made this play to witness what was happening, to wrestle with how to push back, and to interfere with the dominant narrative.
Has the original format and intention of the show changed at all to suit today’s political climate?
The format is the same. We first mounted the show in 2003, and after 2004 we stopped performing in theaters and opted instead for raw spaces. That’s what we’re doing in this revival–no theaters, no comfort zones. The intention of the show remains the same. The play asks the question, what can you, as a regular citizen, do when your government has gone off the rails? We remember very well feeling like Bush and Cheney and the lot were violent and dangerous, and that they were fine with trashing civil liberties and demonizing brown people and anyone who opposed their agenda. 15 years ago, people would ask about the show, “are you allowed to say that?” They’re asking it now too. Because we don’t know our rights, and we’d better start exercising them before they’re gone.
You refer to yourselves as “guerrilla theater;” will you be using multiple venues throughout LA that you’ve pre planned, or will you be winging it?
All I can say is that we’ll be in raw spaces around town. A different neighborhood every weekend. Our sites have been selected, but they’re always subject to change.
Do you anticipate any pushback from local authorities for these subversive performances?
We welcome it! Makes for great publicity.
What kind of audience is ideal for you, in your opinion?
We welcome anyone tired, or poor. Basically any huddled masses yearning to breathe free. We’re also cool with the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Potential guests need to call a special hotline (209-375–0411) to find out where the performances are, what led to this interesting marketing method?
For the same reason we perform anonymously. Gotta keep it underground.
How “immersive” is the production? Are audiences an integral part of the narrative or are we passive observers?
Our audiences are more integral to the narrative than most shows that are advertised as “immersive.” Nuff said.
What’s the most important thing audiences need to know when heading into I’m Gonna K the P?
What do you hope audiences take away from I’m Gonna K the P?
Voter registration forms.
I’m Gonna Kill the President opens Oct. 13 and runs through Nov. 18. Shows are on Saturdays at 8pm & Sundays at 7pm. Tickets are are $20 if you can, $10 if you can’t and are Cash Only. To find out when and where you can attend I’m Gonna Kill the President, call the hotline at (209) 375-0411 and listen for a performance near you. Make sure you’re not followed.
(For video coverage on the 2004 iteration of I’m Gonna Kill The President, see this Fox News piece.)