Shut Up, Little Man!

“Little Man, Look at What You've Done Here” : Some Notes Toward a History of Shut Up, Little Man!

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“Little Man, Look at What You've Done Here” — The Shut Up Little Man play

with the cast
Mitchell and Eddie Lee with the cast

One evening I received a call from Gregg Gibbs, a Los Angeles painter and fringe actor. Gibbs, along with his friend Charles Schneider, had done a short performance based on the Shut Up Little Man dialogue at a small cafe in Los Angeles. He and Schneider had now made an arrangement with the Kim Light Gallery, an established and well-respected art gallery, to put together a full-length play based on the recordings. Gibbs was calling to secure rights to the play and to see how involved Mitchell and I would like to be in the process. I agreed to be a creative consultant and to curate a documentary exhibit to augment the play. I flew out to Los Angeles and began to put together my exhibit in a small gallery adjacent to the main stage. I enlarged photographs of Pete and Ray and the Pepto Bismol Palace; I framed a letter from the landlord warning Peter and Raymond that they would be evicted if they did not stop yelling. I displayed some of the paintings and comics that Shut Up Little Man fans had made and sent to me, and I filled a glass case with cheap vodka that I had purchased at O’Looney’s and Kool 100 cigarettes from Walgreen’s.

The Shut Up Little Man play was composed essentially of transcribed lines from the recordings, assembled by Gibbs in an order that suggested some sort of dramatic arc. There were no lines in the play that were not on the tapes. The only inventive segment that the “script” called for came at the climax, a rather gruesome scene wherein one of the boys murders (or dreams that he murders) the other by cutting open his belly.

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