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The BYU/Berkeley Plot: 10 Things To Know About The Show Before You Go (2016 FRIGID NEW YORK FESTIVAL)

by Karen Tortora-Lee on February 7, 2016

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Ten Questions. Ten Answers. And one Big Surprise in the audience …


The BYU/Berkeley Plot

“Brigham Young University and UC Berkeley couldn’t be more different. They’re the crispy ends of the higher education banana, and Ben Abbott went to both. But while trading Book of Mormon classes for angry protest rallies, he may have stumbled upon a shocking conspiracy linking the two! (Spoiler: It’s aliens.)”

Show  Info:

      • Mon Feb 22, 2016 | 5:30PM
      • Thu Feb 25, 2016 | 10:30PM
      • Sat Feb 27, 2016 | 7:10PM
      • Wed Mar 02, 2016 | 7:10PM
      • Fri Mar 04, 2016 | 5:30PM
      • Sun Mar 06, 2016 | 12:10PM

Under St. Marks New York, NY $10/$15

Answers by Ben Abbott
(writer and performer)

1. Forget the PR version. When you’re talking to your friends, how do you explain this show to them?
Ben: I started school at BYU, but finished at UC Berkeley. They are both just such amazingly weird places that are so different from each other but with surprising similarities. I’ve always known I wanted to write a show about that transition from one kind of crazy to another. Also there’s a thing about aliens and how the two schools are caught up in a conspiracy to fool the public and protect the world from invasion, so I guess I can only say the show is semi-autobiographical.

2. Here’s a scenario: After the show some audience members go have a drink.  What’s the part of the show you hope they’re discussing?
Ben: I want them to not know what was true and what wasn’t. There are some things that will be obvious but I’d love for them to be trying to dissect when exactly it went off the rails. And laughing!

3. What drives your show – character, theme or plot?
Ben: Well, “plot” is in the title, but I think it’s at least a combination of plot and character. There are some great stories, but you wouldn’t care about the crazy things happening (both real and imagined) if you weren’t invested in the character.

4. In rehearsals, read-thrus, or prior incarnations, what’s the one thing someone said about the show so far that made you (or the team) the most proud?
Ben: I think “you actually had me convinced about the fake conspiracy” is the best. Also, someone said “there are parts of this that remind of stand-up,” which is a huge compliment for me because I admire good stand-up comedians to the moon.

5. If money and resources (and even reality) were no object what is the most lavish, luxurious, pointless prop, costume, effect – anything – that you would spend money on for this show?
Ben: Well, I think special effects to take the audience through the inter-dimensional vortex would be vital. I also think the aliens should make an appearance, flying saucer and all.

6. What’s the one thing you’re looking forward to regarding the FRIGID Festival itself?
Ben: This is my third time at FRIGID, and second as a performer. Without a doubt, the most exciting thing to me is the people. Being around so much active creative energy is hugely inspiring. I always not only get ideas for shows I want to write while I’m around them but this huge boost of excitement to make them happen.

7. Is there a scene, a moment, a gesture … anything at all in the show that you anticipate may get a completely different reaction depending on the audience that night?
Ben: Anyone who’s gone to either of these schools will have a particularly unique experience. Talking about (and maybe making a little fun of) BYU or Berkeley to people who don’t know anything about it is totally different from reminiscing about a shared experience. Either way it’ll be fun.

8. What’s your favorite line from the show?
Ben: “It was intimate! It was passionate! We never kissed with tongue.”

9. What’s the last thing you usually do before the beginning of a show?
Ben: Review the whole thing in my head as fast as I can. Getting lost in your own one-man show is a special kind of hell.

10. You scan the audience and you see a face that stops you dead in your tracks – who is it? And why are you shocked?
Ben: The ex-girlfriend I talk about in the show. I haven’t seen her in 10 years, but that would be paralyzing because I’d only be able to hear it through her ears. Also that whole section is only like, 85% factual, so I’m not sure how that would go.

You’re not the first to say that, Ben!  Seems like a lot of FRIGID folks are either hoping like heck that their exes are NOT there, or kinda hoping they are.  Maybe it should be a  theme one year, “bring back the exes”.  But for your sake, and the sake of your show, I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you that she doesn’t show up.

Thanks so much for answering our questions, Ben!

The rest of you – don’t forget to check out The BYU/Berkeley Plot.



Horse Trade Theater Group will present the 10th Annual FRIGID New York Festival at The Kraine Theater (85 East 4th Street between 2nd Avenue and Bowery) and UNDER St. Marks (94 St. Marks Place between 1st Avenue and Avenue A) February 16-March 6. All shows run 60 minutes, or less. Tickets are available for purchase in advance at  


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