‘A’ Is For ‘Surreal’
Ninja-rocker-director invites crowd to play crowd in Abandoninja.
Thursday, March 31, 2005
What do you get when you cross a ninja with a stick of butter, add two bands, a DJ and a guy in a chicken suit?
If you’re Brennan Tiffany, you get a college diploma.
Tiffany is a 28-year-old senior in CSU Monterey Bay’s department of Teledramatic Arts and Technology (TAT). He’s mixing this Molotov cocktail to produce a singular setting for the final scene of a comedy short he’s filming for his senior Capstone (CSUMB’s mandatory thesis project). TAT students are required to produce a 15-minute video that applies what they’ve learned in classes like screenwriting and production management. Tiffany’s piece is called Abandoninja.
“Other students usually do narratives about troubled teens or a music video,” says Tiffany, “I’m injecting some life.”
That’s one way of putting it. Abandoninja, which Tiffany describes as a Monty Python/Mr. Show-styled parody, starts off tamely enough, with a mother and son playing golf. They spot a black lump on a green and, upon further investigation, discover it’s a stray ninja. They take him home, where the son appeals to his sitcomy dad to let him keep it. “Get that thing out of here,” comes the response. When the ninja “accidentally” kills the dad, the drama flicks to a newscast that finds the anchor presenting breaking news of the murder.
Following a surreal series of circumstances involving a dancing block of butter, a disgusted director and a bitter actress, a door opens to reveal a wild club scene featuring a rogue rock band dressed in ninja suits.
This is where the public comes in—to complete the only unfilmed scene of Abandoninja. All are invited to play the raucous crowd at the premiere of the ninja band, Tiffany’s own Space Station Wagon (he sings, plays guitar and keyboard). And that’s only part of the action.
Before Space Station Wagon’s Pavement-style rock, local high-energy favorites The Nancy Boys and San Francisco’s J. Tonal perform. Meanwhile, a quadraphonic mini-concert—four speakers in four corners of a room playing four interwoven CDs of the Flaming Lips’ Zaireeka—goes off in another room while a synchronous film rolls on the wall.
“The local community should get their collective faces melted off by the amount of entertainment taking place that night,” Tiffany promises.
A veteran of 127 Phish shows, Tiffany admits that, should the potentially unstable sequence escalate into a campus-wide Phish-like orgy of sound and stimulation, “it would be ideal.”
Of course, even if the concert Tiffany calls “a Capstone in itself” fizzles in a spectacular meltdown of boom microphones and ambition, he is happy to see his project to fruition.
“My professor [Caitlin Manning] didn’t think I could do it, with five locations and wardrobes, five sets of actors and scenes,” says the first time director, “But I proved it to her.”
“I’ve spent part of every day the last six months working on this,” says Tiffany, who plans to use Abandoninja as a “business card” to help him win a job writing comedy scripts. “It’s my diploma.”
Abandoninja kicks in Saturday, April 2, at 8pm at The Black Box Cabaret, Bldg. 81, 100 Campus Center, CSUMB, Seaside. free. 917-5002.