‘Fascism the Musical’ melts snowflake stereotypes

Lauryn Bolz and Liz Kelton

“Fascism the Musical” took on serious social and political issues one snarky skit at a time.

On Feb. 28-29, the Bas Bleu Theatre Company presented a shortened cabaret-style version of “Fascism the Musical.” Written by William Missouri Downs and Sean Stone, the intimate presentation of the politically-charged musical made fascism fun. 

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According to Downs, the screenwriter of the show, “Fascism the Musical” dismantles stereotypes about left-wing ideals of political correctness and submissiveness.

“I think liberals, particularly, are way too polite about things, and (the show) is not too terribly polite,” Downs said. “We played out what the problem is, and hopefully people laugh at it and it inspires them to stop being so empathetic and start taking action to change things.”

Wendy Ishii, the artistic director of Bas Bleu Theatre, stands by the power of storytelling as a way to impactfully reach a large number of people.

“I totally believe in the transformative power of storytelling, and that’s how people think more deeply and consider facts,” Ishii said. “Sometimes if it’s just information coming from the news, it doesn’t get in our DNA the same way it does through storytelling.”

It is really important to speak up because it reminds people that you are not powerless. If the masses have control over what happens next, then we can all benefit from it.” – Brikai Cordova, actress

Performance art, in particular, has been known to be a popular vessel for conveying important themes and motifs from the society it comes from. For this reason, it is a powerful tool for political activism and change. 

“For me, it is really important because I represent a minority,” said Brikai Cordova, a performer in the cabaret. “I am almost full-blood Native American, so (I) come from a background where we have very little rights or they are very quickly taken from us.”

According to Cordova, performance is a way to bring a voice to communities that have had theirs stripped from them.

“It is really important to speak up because it reminds people that you are not powerless,” Cordova said. “If the masses have control over what happens next, then we can all benefit from it.”

Like the name infers, “Fascism the Musical” focused on the issues surrounding corporate personhood in the United States and the issues that accompany laissez-faire economics such as student loan debt, regulation of women’s bodies and trickle-down economics

“It’s very evident that large corporations are taking over a vast majority of our community and definitely within our political system,” said audience member Shawna Anderson.

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According to audience member Patrick Anderson, the effects of large corporations and trickle-down economics are more evident now than in previous presidencies. 

“When I was first voting, (Ronald Reagan was) who I voted for, but if you think about it now, (trickle-down economics) really is the true leftovers of the economy,” Anderson said. “If you had everyone making more money at the bottom, it would flow up to the top anyway, and everybody would benefit.” 

Featuring characters like Capitalist Jesus and Trickle-Down Economics Manatee, “Fascism the Musical” shined a light on these complex issues in a way that was concise, eloquent and, most importantly, hilarious.

“My cheeks hurt afterward from laughing for an hour and 15 minutes,” Anderson said. “It was so funny.”  

According to Ishii, the comedic aspect of the play, applied to the serious social issues it discusses, is what initially drew her to it.

“It’s just plain fun,” Ishii said. “Comedy is really important. I think it’s one of the fastest ways to get thought-provoking messages into our brains.”

After a successful weekend showing at Bas Bleu, you can expect “Fascism the Musical” to soon dictate a theater near you. 

Lauryn Bolz and Liz Kelton can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter at @CSUCollegian