The Encyclopedia Show brings performers together

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May 7th, 2012

Omaha, NE – One of the latest additions to Omaha’s creative scene brings performers, writers and musicians together for a unique and lively production.

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“Welcome! So we’re in the second season of The Encyclopedia Show…” announced local spoken word poets Andrew Ek and Katie F-S, as they stood before a sizable crowd at the Omaha Community Playhouse. The two were introducing the February edition of The Encyclopedia Show. The topic: dinosaurs.

“Aaahaaaaaaaaaaaaa,” screeched F-S, providing a notable Pterodactyl impression. “The end is nigh,” Ek chimed in as the audience peeled with laughter. The two were performing a joint spoken word piece, per the theme of the evening, about Terry, the famous Pterodactyl.

They were followed by musicians who sang about dinosaur love, poets who wrote about Jurassic discoveries, and a panel of sound effects competitors, chosen from the audience.

From right, Andrew Ek, Katie F-S and Shannon Jaxies perform in a recent edition of The Encyclopedia Show. (Courtesy photo)

An import from Chicago, where it’s currently in its fourth season, The Encyclopedia Show can best be described as a live variety show. Each performance is held together by a topic – chosen by the Chicago home production – that could form an encyclopedia entry. And the performers are asked to fill that encyclopedia entry with their own takes on the topic. Each performer’s “entry” is held to account by a fact-checker, played by Shannon Jaxies, who rings a bell when she spots a factual error, which of course, is often.

The show made its way to Omaha, after Katie F-S was asked by the Omaha Community Playhouse if she’d like to produce an act for its 21 and Over Series.

“And I did!” she laughed. “And I was actually at the National Poetry Slam in 2010 when I got that message … and we thought that was as great an opportunity as any to introduce it to Omaha and to kind of get a feel for what the community thought.”

F-S said there were about 170 people in the first audience. “So we had a lot of people asking when will you do this again? So we were like okay, we will do this again.”

The show has grown into a monthly production, with a new location and a new set of performers each time. F-S and Ek say the unique mixture is what draws the audience.

“We’ve got a lot of audiences who are seeing people they already love, favorites already in a completely new environment,” she said. “And if you go to see someone you love you will almost always see will someone perform who you’ve never seen before and who is incredible.”

Ek added it’s also a draw for the performers to participate. “Every month I get to see people I’ve never see perform before,” he said.

This month’s show will take place Thursday at 7:30pm at the Omaha Healing Arts Center in the Old Market. Along with performances by Andrew Ek and Katie F-S, it will also feature local band All Young Girls are Machine Guns, among others including Boston poet Simone Beaubien. The topic: Zodiac.

Audio for this story was provided by The New Timey Podcast Network.

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