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Peripatetic Task Force 1976

The Peripatetic Task Force - Midnight Madness, 1976 (the poster)

While digging around the 'net looking for anything related to the 1973 musical based on Dad's book, Boss, I found a review that had appeared in the Hyde Park Herald, by Ron Offen. Poetry fans may be familiar with Offen's magazine, Free Lunch, which he has published since the late 1980s, and that is just one facet of an interestingly varied life. I was a bit stunned to see that he had formed the theater company, The Peripatetic Task Force and staged Midnight Madness at the Body Politic Theater in the mid-1970s. When I was in high school, my English Lit teacher, Bill Hinchliff (renowned these days for his architectural tours of Chicago and other cities), put together a 3-week Chicago community theater-going experience for a handful of interested students. Midnight Madness was one of the shows we saw. The mid-'70s were an exciting time for theater in Chicago, with the grass-roots community theater scene exploding. Thanks to Bill's project, we saw, among many other things, the first (or very early) run of David Mamet's American Buffalo, before Mamet (and AB) became a sensation. And when I say "among many other things," I mean it: Bill managed to cram 22 plays into twenty one days, and had us each keep a journal of our "reviews" of each play. (I haven't found that yet.) Midnight Madness started at (yes) midnight, was dirt cheap (like most community theater back then--either free or a couple of bucks), served wine (a big deal for us high schoolers), and featured, we were told, plenty of "T & A" (an even bigger deal, at least for this hormonal adolescent). I remember thinking it was wild and wonderful. When I contacted Offen in December of 2009 to alert him to the Hyde Park Herald review of Boss I had linked to this website, I mentioned my Midnight Madness experience. Much to my delight, he offered me a promotional poster from the show. I recognized it instantly. Seeing it transported me back to 1976, and to the 22 plays in 21 days. Thanks so much Ron for the great poster and an even greater night, and Bill for getting a half-dozen youngsters there, maybe against your better judgment. Update: Ron died August 9, 2010. He was 79.

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