Since I’ve been working on a series of short stories about superheroes, I have been struck by how many iterations of the superhero meme have appeared this year. There’s the Sci-Fi Network reality show “Who Wants to Be a Superhero?”, the NBC drama “Heroes,” big-budget Hollywood movies about Superman, Spiderman and the X-Men, and several new books, including Deborah Eisenberg’s “Twilight of the Superheroes.” Then a friend sent me a notice about a new show that happened to be about… superheroes. At least in part.
super:anti:reluctant is the title of a madcap theater piece on the themes of heroes and heroism. During the hour-long play, the five performers of the theater group mugwumpin embody classic American heroic archetypes — the gunslinger, the noir detective, the super hero, the pioneer family, the Olympic athlete — as well as some modern heroes, like the super fast and efficient barista and a bicycle rider who miraculously escapes injury.
On Wednesday morning I sat down to talk with Denmo Ibrahim and Christopher White, two of the three co-founders of mugwumpin, to talk about their play and their process. The third member of mugwumpin’s core group, Joseph Estlack, performs a remarkable pantomime of a super-fast barista during the show. Leda Lum and Celeste Martinez also appear in the cast.
Q. Why is this superhero meme everywhere now?
Denmo: There’s something timely about the wide spread terror or fear, this ‘war on terror’ — and America stepping up and saying we’re going to save these other countries, bring democracy to them — we’re the heroes that are going to save the world. And of course, our fascination that we’re doing it for good, and we’re going to be saved.