What if your life was cast differently?

A play by Avery Crozier. It originally ran off-off-broadway at Altered Stages from June 27,2000 to August 13, 2000, then off-broadway at American Place Theatre from June 5, 2001 until October 7, 2001. It is, to the best of my knowledge, not currently running. It is a comedy that revolves around a job interview in an art museum full of plotting, rivalry, false identity, and secret affairs.

Pretty simple, huh? There's just one catch.

Until the show begins, none of the actors know which part they're going to play.

You see, Eat The Runt was purposefully written without any pronouns. All of the characters have androgynous names (well, if you call names like "Pinky" and "Merrit" androgynous). The playwright, Avery Crozier, even wrote it under an androgenous pen name, and has never actually revealed his identity. The original intent of the script was that anyone would be able to take on any of the play's eight roles. But when it came to casting, the directors couldn't decide which actor to cast as which character. So they let the audience decide instead.

At Altered Stages they filled two buckets with ping-pong balls. One bucket contained balls labeled with names of characters, the other with names of actors. They had the audience draw from the buckets in order to decide who played who. When they took it to American Place Theatre in 2001, they opted for a more interactive approach. At the beginning of the play each actor auditioned for the role of each character. The audience then voted on who gets the role using a system not unlike that seen on TV shows such as America's Funniest Home Videos or Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.

Part of the fun of Eat The Runt plays off of the fact that the meaning of its dialog depends on who plays what role. When one character talks to another about their black heritage, the scene is completely different depending on the ethnicity of the actors involved. After the time I saw it, the actors declared that it was the first time they had had a night where all of the relationships between characters were homosexual. There are 40,320 different casts possible, more if you count understudies.

I was introduced to Eat The Runt by a man handing out flyers and dog-bone shaped cookies in front of the tkts booth on Times Square. When I went later that night I found out he was one of the actors. After the show they had a talk-back with the audience, and showed those of us who stuck around long enough around backstage.

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