1985: Factwino: The Opera

Written by Joan Holden, Robert Alexander, Brian Freeman, Henri Picciotto & Peter Soloman
      with Tede Matthews & Andrea Snow
Music & Lyrics by Bruce Barthol, Barry (Shabaka) Henley & Glenn Appell
Directed by Sharon Lockwood & Daniel Chumley

FACTWINO: THE OPERA featured Sharon Lockwood, Audrey Smith, Dan Chumley,
Bruce Barthol, Brian Freeman, Barry (Shabaka) Henley, Jack Monterey & Wilma Bonet
and band members Glenn Appell, Bruce Barthol, Melecio Magdaluyo, Muziki Roberson & David Rokeach

View original playbill

Poster Design:
Spain Rodriguez

Told in comic book style vignettes, FACTWINO: THE OPERA combined both previous FACTWINO productions into one epic production.

Act I: In a once-great nation fearful of it's future, ignorance has triumphed at the polls... The defense budget doubles, social services slide, and the fundamentalist fanatics of the Moral Majority declare war on Knowledge. Responding to the distress call of a frightened Librarian, the Spirit of Information makes an emergency visit to Earth. After discovering that books stolen from local libraries have been systematically replaced by Bibles, the Spirit decides help is needed on the planet. She grants Sedro, an erudite wino, with the power to make people see the truth, and he becomes Factwino, defeater of ignorance, disseminator of information, defender of free speech and social justice; the perfect superhero to take on the Moral Majority and others of their ilk.

As Factwino, our hero pursues his mission with single-hearted devotion. Mindful of the Spirit's warning, "If you booze it, you lose it", abandoning his faithful sidekick Buddy, Factwino transforms anti-abortion crusaders, book-burners and homosexual-haters into thinking citizens---and arouses the ire of the main enemy, Armageddonman.

From his secret stronghold deep under the desert, this awful incarnation of the military-industrial complex sends his Robot Lackey to extract the secret of Factwino's identity from the heartbroken and booze-befuddled Buddy. At the moment of his greatest triumph---when he has provoked thought form the mighty mullah of the Moral Majority, Jerry Falwell---the Superhero of Clarification is kidnapped by Armageddonman.

Act II: Ignorance again grows unchecked, and Ronald Reagan wins a second term. Buddy's memory erased, the Librarian on the verge of despair, but other followers of Factwino leading the fight against Armaggedon. Meanwhile, the imprisoned Factwino refuses his jailers' efforts to make him drink, but fears the world has forgotten him---until the Spirit arrives to rally him for his encounter with Armageddonman, which may decide the fate of the Earth.

Factwino's power compels thought from human intelligence, even Armageddonman's; but for thought to make a difference it must touch human feelings---and Armageddonman has none. Victorious, the supervillian injects our hero with alcohol, destroying his will and corrupting his power---and sends him out to destroy the peace movement.

Robotized, Factwino now makes people Stop Thinking. The horrified librarian appeals to the Spirit of Information (who originally gave Factwino his power) to send another superhero. But the discouraged Spirit replies that humanity only misuses knowledge. From here on, human beings are on their own.

Buddy's memory has been jogged. He follows Factwino to the secret stronghold, disables the Robot, and liberates his friend. Since Factwino never willingly took a drink, he still has his power. He is about to make his reappearance, when he finds the Librarian has taken it upon herself to make people think. Factwino retires, realizing that to save the earth, ordinary people must rely on their own power.
Production Photo
"Can you guess just who we are? One part profit, one part war..." - Armageddonman
Photographer: Neil Robert Miller
Pictured: (l-r) Bruce Barthol, Dan Chumley

Reviews and Articles:

"...a reminder that the Mime Troupe isn't trying to be sanctimonious, just trying to point, with humor, to some connections that the viewer may not have thought about--to the connection between punk nihilism and apocalyptic fundamentalism, for instance."
Los Angeles Times - 5/17/85

Back to the Archives