Hack & splash!: Kids’ show satire leaves audience covered in gore

Hack & splash!: Kids’ show satire leaves audience covered in gore
Photo by Caleb Caldwell

They’ve taken a kids’ show and added a splash of violence!

A theater show inspired equally by “Sesame Street” and “Friday the 13th” will leave audiences splattered with fake blood and gore. The director of “Blankland,” opening Jan. 19 at Williamsburg’s Vital Joint, says that visitors will get plastic sheets to hide from the gouts of blood, but he hopes that those who wind up coated in carnage will be able to laugh it off — or at least wash it off.

“I hope they have a good humor about it,” said Jon Burkland, a member of Boom Bat Gesture performance group. “We’ve all done the show a bunch of times and it washes out. We did send out a warning with the confirmation email, so I do hope people read that.”

The mash-up of kids’ television and slasher flicks is designed to illuminate how comically common violence has become in entertainment, said Burkland.

“This show asks a lot of questions about how we communicate and react to violence,” he said. “It does so in an extraordinarily lighthearted manner.”

In previous incarnations of the show, the audience was much further from the action. But for the current, more intimate run at Vital Joint, which is limited to 15 people at each show, Burkland is interested to see how being up close and personal with the constant gore might turn people’s laughter into gasps of horror.

“There’s a contradiction between seeing violence up close and the animal reaction that gives to you in the live context, and the way it’s presented in a movie in a satirical horror film where you’re laughing along to it,” he said. “I’m curious to see that point where people stop laughing, and exactly where that line is.”

The three-person cast drew inspiration for their piece from children’s television shows such as “Sesame Street” and horror films like “Freddy vs. Jason” and “Scream,” said Burkland. Like everyone’s favorite kiddie show, “Blankland” is divided into short segments, presented by recurring characters.

During the show, the audience will participate in a series of simple games and learning opportunities, such as the grim game “What Makes You Die?,” which encourages guests to cheers for various methods of execution.

Those educational segments teach the audience not to believe everything they hear through lessons with varying levels of wisdom, said Burkland.

“We’re teaching you something that maybe you agree with, something that’s wrong, and something that’s perverse and totally a—backwards,” he said.

“Blankland” at Vital Joint (109 Meserole St. at Manhattan Avenue in Williamsburg, www.theexponentialfestival.org). Jan. 19–20, 23–24 at 8 pm, Jan. 22 at 7 pm. Jan. 27 at 10 pm. Jan. 28 at 2 pm and 10 pm. $18 ($15 in advance).

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Get a grip: Murder is always a possibility for the cheery characters in “Blankland.”
Photo by Caleb Caldwell