Winter 2016 to PRESENT: THE BACK PACK PRESENTS: A quarterly series in which The Back Pack showcases all their recent works along with some old favorites. This workshop proves essential to the growth of our pieces; they just never seem finished without an audience. Tweaks will be made, learning will be done, and giggles will be shared.
Winter 2016: Breaking It Down: A Guide - Another Frontera Fest Best of Fest Winner, this piece combines a clown opening, a shadow puppet portion, and The Back Pack's signature "paper piece" convention.
Spring 2015: Type Rider- An original puppet piece performed in The 2015 Austin Puppet Incident, a production of Trouble Puppet and Glass Half Full Theatre, that explored issues of mind control by the media. Zac Thomas built the puppet out of an old rocking chair and starred in the performance. Pete, Marie, and Katie operated the puppet.
Winter 2015: Cruelty- Written and performed by Justin Morley and Pete Betcher. Using a classic movement structure in a contemporary setting, Cruelty places two men into an escalating tango of rebuttal. Inspiration for this piece comes from elevator music and rude restaurant patrons everywhere.
Winter 2015: How to Finish a Sentence - The third in a series of rhythm-based movement pieces combining music, drawing, and dance to explore expectation and whimsy. How To Finish a Sentence went on to perform in Frontera Festival's Best of Fest, a third year in a row win for The Back Pack.
Winter 2014: How to Crush Crayons - A brand new movement/music/clowning fusion piece that called upon the same paper tearing convention as HWYBP. Crayons was created specifically for the short fringe at the Hyde Park Theatre, and featured more than 100 line drawings worn by just three performers. The piece, like HWYBP, was selected from 80 entrants to perform in the Best of the Fest.
Winter 2013: Going Postal and How to Wear Your Back Pack, Remixed - For their first performance in Texas, the recently reunited group of four tackled the task of reinventing both pieces for Frontera Fest in Austin. How to Wear Your Back Pack went on to earn Best of the Fest honors.
Summer 2010: Going Postal - The first full length feature presented by The Back Pack, Going Postal took the style of the shorter pieces to the next level with a melting pot of dance/animation/music/theatre/and clown. The show follows a letter thrown into the world without a stamp or a return address, and must somehow find her way to her destination with the help of others and a little bit of luck. The mix is a smart comedy that is friendly to all ages, and constantly changing from start to finish!
Spring 2010: Glhamorous – Placing an even heavier emphasis on story than its predecessors, Glhamorous featured characters dressed as either Box people (literally large card board boxes, think washer/dryer size, crafted to look like people) or giant hams (yes, holiday style glazed spiral cut hams). The two types populated a world where boxes lived blue collar lives, and the hams lived lavishly as pop icons. This is where glHAMorous is derived from. The show followed the troubles of a nice Man Box as he finds out his Glam Ham wife has fallen for another Man Ham. Play debuted at the Ten Minute Play Festival in 2010, but has seen a few revivals at Saturday markets here in Missoula over the Summer.
Fall 2009: How to Powerstrip – Taking much of what made Backpack memorable, and applying the concepts to light, this piece focused on electrical cords, rope lights, glow sticks, and (of course) a single power strip to power everything. It was performed almost entirely in the dark, and followed a sporadic tangent filled storyline including everything from rope light stick figures, a banana phone, ghost busters, and modern dance. Show premiered during the Ten Minute Play Festival in 2009.
Fall 2008: How to Wear Your Backpack – This was the first big hit, and the origin of the group name “The Back Pack”. The piece used wearable pads of paper which were shredded during performance to reveal the next page underneath. Pages could change performers instantly into a new costume, new set piece, new prop, etc. as needed. Originally performed during the Ten Minute Play Festival at the University of Montana, the piece went on to host its own performance in December 2008, and was featured in the ACDF Benefit concert in January 2009.
Summer 2008: Sweater Vest for Success – Also created for the same show as The Buffalo Returns, and in many ways the first piece that began us down our current path, which I like to call rhythm based movement pieces. It isn’t dance, but it is movement to music. It might help if you think of it simply as a Movement Narrative that borrows heavily from other genres, including dance. This piece was inspired by imagining a three dimensional character living in a two dimensional world, and having to abide by those rules. Was also brought back and performed at the ACDF Benefit concert in January 2010.
Summer 2008: The Buffalo Returns – Another tap dance piece, in many ways a sequel to Sell the Buffalo, which took all the aspects of the original, and turned them up a notch with a greater emphasis on story. This piece was part of a dance show at the Crystal Theatre put on by When in Rome Productions here in Missoula.
Summer 2007: Sell the Buffalo – The first piece done as a group was a tap dance piece focusing on creative choreography, and exploring the unexpected. The name comes from the title of a popular tap dance move called “the Buffalo” which was featured in the dance. During rehearsal, when we were coming down the home stretch someone would often say “aaand.. Sell the Buffalo!” and the name stuck.