Wild tickets? Don't even try
The Wild Show is sold out again.
Forty years ago, the fledgling Siskiyou Performing Arts Center in Yreka, Calif., opened up a small community theater and held its first "Wild" show. The show is a mixture of satiric skits and songs, all created by local actors and singers. It is perhaps the only theater ticket in Yreka's history that is hard to obtain. The "Wild" shows usually sell out long before the fans of the show even know they are on sale. The briefest rumor is enough for a stampede of frenzied Yrekans to descend upon the little theater looking for tickets.
They are almost always too late.
"Tickets go first to members of SPAC, and even they are often left in the lurch," said Dick Rees, longstanding board member of the organization. "Each year we send away more and more disappointed members. As for the general public, they don't have a chance. We actually thought of starting a lottery but we doubted that even a lottery would do much to assuage the hurt feelings of the many theater-goers who can't get their Wild fix."
The force behind this small-town mania is Tom Sieber, a former postmaster of Grenada, Calif. and former mayor of Yreka &
especially ironic since the show specializes in lambasting the foibles of this little rural village.
The Wild shows have lampooned the local planning commission, the over-population of deer in the city limits, the profusion of shopping carts in fields next to low income housing, and the intrusion of "early birds" on citizens holding yard sales.
The planning commission skit portrayed a group of local politicians so inept that their entire meeting was spent on deciding who was going out for the coffee and who precisely would suffer the onus of actually writing down the orders. Of course, they also spent at least twenty minutes deciding where to sit during the meeting.
The deer skit involved a very belligerent buck with a drinking problem who not only decimates every flower garden in town, but also leaves a trail of beer cans where he wanders. He and his herd of flower-eaters eventually take over the entire town, something Yrekans feel is not that much of a stretch from reality.
In another skit, Sieber imagined a town so accustomed to the ubiquitous shopping carts littering the city, that eventually a brass statue in the form of a shopping cart was unveiled at a large gathering of the local citizenry.
The early bird skit had two honest local citizens in bed sleeping the night before their yard sale is to begin. Suddenly, the husband is awakened by a slight chirping noise. He awakens his wife, and the noise begins to grow and grow. He begins to quiz her about the early bird ad she placed in the local paper. "Did you give our address?" She nods her head. "Did you mention the sale starts at 9 a.m.?" Again she nods her head. "Did you remember to add 'NO EARLY BIRDS'"? She shakes her head "no" and suddenly the stage is filled with beaked and bewinged creatures grabbing everything they can find, even dismantling the very bed of the couple.
The auditions for the show are always wide open. No one has ever been turned away, no matter how little experience and no matter how few skills. Sieber manages to find parts even for people who can't act or sing or dance. Sometimes they just get a few lines in a show, but they are always totally involved in most of the skits. If they can sing, Sieber has the actors write their own songs and perform them. Almost all the songs in the show are either originals or song parodies written by locals. Dancers who have never choreographed in their lives are suddenly told they must prepare a ten minute dance to match the William Tell Overture. Actors prepare their own make-up and costumes with little or no help from "professionals."
"We have no professionals here," Sieber said. "All we have is people willing to make fools of themselves and have a great time."
The show usually takes three to four weeks to invent. Sieber usually comes up with a show that starts at 8 p.m. and ends with a standing ovation two hours later.
"I don't know how we do it," Sieber said, "but a lot of it has to do with our little theater. It only holds 80 people and the audience is right on top of you. The laughter almost knocks you down when you are that close. And did I mention the audience? They come primed to enjoy every night. They are absolutely the best audience in the world."
The next Wild show, entitled "Sitting on Top of the Wild," starts Nov.3 at the SPAC theater in Yreka. It will run for two weekends, with a Thursday show thrown in. Don't even try to get tickets. It's sold out already.
Musical playwright is a founding member of SPAC, and his plays have been performed on every continent except for Antarctica. As of the printing of this story, Murphy was still in a legal battle with the penguins over royalties.