Maximum Verbosity
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A Missionary Position


(LOKI mimes knocking on an imaginary door.)

THOR: Who goes there?
LOKI: Loki.
THOR: Loki who?
LOKI: Loki behind you, an eight-legged horse!

(LOKI attempts to run past THOR, who clotheslines him.)


And so, with a knock-knock joke, a pratfall, and a really bad pun, Maximum Verbosity made its debut.


The name itself wasn't much more than an obscure joke. The "company" consisted of a few friends I'd taken out to dinner and asked to help me develop a floundering script - but I knew that collaboration was something important to me, so I wasn't comfortable putting down my name as the sole producer. I asked the cast to come up with some names. They didn't. I came up with several. They hated all of them. I asked them to pick the one they hated the least, and thus Maximum Verbosity was born.


I never really got around to putting together a mission statement. Why bother? It seemed pretentious, presumptuous, when we were never really more than a garage band, only for theatre - when we never really had any plans to make it past the next show. And yet, we did - the name became a shoddy coat-hook upon which we'd hang one production after another. I kept writing scripts, and the same crew kept coming together to work on them, infusing the words with their ideas, their personalities, actively shaping them into something I couldn't have achieved as a diminutive desktop dictator.


What's more, people started talking about us as a troupe, as a company, as a unit, rather than as a collection of individuals. Reviews made reference to my "motley crew." Somehow, the mere act of creating a name had created a thing - a thing that was bigger than any one of us.


But how to describe what we do? Five years ago, I could have summarized it in one word: mythology. We did anachronistic retellings of classical myths and folktales. But then, we ended up branching out, taking on pop-culture, politics, and genealogy. This may be stretching the original definition; fortunately, I can make a word do some pretty neat tricks. As our name should have suggested to me, we were expanding to encompass another concept: language. A tangent, I thought at first. But no; upon reflection, every show we've done has been about, specifically, the intersection of the two: the use of language to create mythology.


Lokasenna tells of the god of mischief, a being trapped in a world where everything is larger and more dangerous than he is; his only weapon is his treasure-trove of words, using it to bewilder and deceive those around him, pulling them into and out of trouble too quickly for the others to keep up. In Son of the Dragon, Mordred uses language in an attempt to reshape history, his own and his father's. In Broceliande, words are an explicitly magical force, able to quite literally reshape reality around the speaker. And Libertarian Rage - every song, every sketch, every rant, is about the myriad ways that language is used to control people.


Perhaps it's in the latter show that I became aware of another layer to what we could do. I still choose to characterize myself as a fantasy writer. The problem is, I'm not as good at it as so many others - religious and political figures constantly weaving new stories, our popular culture building a new mythology around us all the time. Fish don't know what water is, because they're immersed in it - and I'm convinced that we have the same oblivious attitude to our own folklore. As artists, we have the power to make new stories, better stories, to challenge those assumptions ingrained so deeply we're no longer even aware of their existence.


Of course, maybe that's bullshit. Maybe that's something I just pulled out of my ass in an attempt to rationalize everything we've done. Maybe it's nothing more than empty words. But if Maximum Verbosity is about anything, it's about the idea that words are important. The act of naming a thing defines it, creates it in people's imaginations. Maybe I'm trying to re-create this troupe in mine, and yours as well.


In any case, we're beginning our fifth year. We've produced five shows in a multiplicity of genres - musical comedy, verse tragedy, mime and political satire. Hopefully, we've proven that we're going to be around for a while. It's time to take a swing at a mission statement.


The mission of Maximum Verbosity will be to stimulate questions; more specifically, to interpret old mythology through the lens of the new and, perhaps more importantly, to interpret our new mythology through the lens of the old, with an especial focus on the use of language to create myth. This approach implies a willingness to embrace creative anachronism and to explore issues of religion, spirituality, and politics across a wide variety of genres and disciplines. The troupe will function as a decentralized collective of individuals without relying on state recognition or support.