@ The Black Box Theatre, 430 N. Main St.

Karl The Magnificent

William Missouri Downs

Jan 08-Jan 17, 2021

Streaming January 8-17, 2021


In 2009 we were in St. Louis, MO and saw a Cockeyed by William Missouri Downs which had won the Hot City Players new play contest. We loved it and in November of 2010 produced it at NSTC. Thus began a 10 year relationship and five productions of Downs' plays. As a result of this relationship, Bill shares some of his unpublished works in progress with us. Bill decided "Karl the Magnificent" was a play which was ready to be read to hear how it sounds and how an audience responds. We agreed and here it is streaming in January of 2021! We are presenting it free to our audience, however, due to copyright issues, you must make a reservation to get the access information. You can reserve by writing to nstcbbt@zianet.com with Karl in the subject line.


Technical Director
Dummy Karl
Punk Waitress


Black Box Theatre's 'Karl the Magnificent' is free, fun escapism
- Mike Cook, Las Cruces Bulletin

If you need a break from the world - and who doesn't right about now? - I have a suggestion for you: Watch Black Box Theatre's virtual production of playwright William Missouri Downs' "Karl the Magnificent." The play continues streaming through midnight Sunday, Jan. 17, and there is no charge to watch it. All you have to do is make a reservation by sending Ceil Herman an email at nstcbbt@zianet.com. She will send you back the login information to watch the nearly 92-minute production. Words like zany and madcap were coined to describe "Karl the Magnificent." There are some interesting subtexts at work and a deeper message about how we treat one other, but mostly this is just light-hearted fun. I laughed out loud both when Maggie and Raymond tried to revive Karl the Magnificent ("It's not a puppet, it's a dummy") using resuscitation paddles and when they learned that the end of the world had been confirmed in a tweet from the president of the United States (the play's only overt political reference). The play begins as Maggie (Rachel Thomas Chappell) and Raymond (Genno Tafoya) attend a four-hour Exxon-Mobil training seminar about hostile workplaces. They are told they have failed the seminar and either will be terminated or must attend the birthday party of office nerd Karl Heimlich (Monte H. Wright). The party is held at the local Ramada Inn, with Burger King Whoppers as Karl's dinner choice, disco dancing and Karl's special announcement. Despite their claims to migraines, groin injuries, hypoglycemia and vegan diets and the rabbi convention next door, Maggie and Raymond must endure Karl's endless dialogue about his hobbies: doing magic, playing the accordion - from which he draws his Superman (the 1940s-80s version, not the later one) strength - and his latest: ventriloquism. Enter Karl the Magnificent (Joseluis Solorzano), Karl's alter-ego dummy, whose favorite word seems to be dumbass. Finally, it s time for Karl's big announcement: The world will end "within a matter of days" because fracking has caused a shift in the tectonic plates beneath Yellowstone National Park that has activated a millennia-old volcano. Karl discovered the shift during regular visits to a lake in the park where he frolicked with Sister Alice (Autumn Gieb, who also plays the punk waitress and her twin), the former Miss Wyoming, a barrel-racing, accordion-playing nun (the Benedictine Convent of Perpetual Adoration). Following several rounds of murder and mayhem, Maggie and Raymond are frantic to find the deep-sleep cocoon pod that Karl built under his house - "bless his nerdy little soul" - to survive the cataclysm. See what I mean about zany and madcap? Five liftings of the taped glasses (nerd salute) to the cast, playwright and director, Ceil Herman, and also to the remarkable crew: puppet (I thought it was a dummy?) artisans Gieb - who also did the costumes - and Peter Herman, sound designer Ceil Herman, props artisan Joshua Taulbee, technical director Peter Herman and costumer Gieb


No seating plan has been posted.


Our next production is Animal Tales The normal ticketing system will be used but you may only select the number of seats you require and we will assign seats to comply with NM Covid requirements. You may request row 1, 2, 3, or 4 and we will do our best to honor your request. Please see the event pages for details.

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