What do you get when you dream up your own version of Pee Wee’s Playhouse, mix it with a little American Bandstand, and add a dash of bizarro thematics and DIY cardboard kingdomry? Yes, I made up that word, there is really nothing else to describe what results in Whoop Dee Doo – a Kansas City (Missouri they’ll have you know,) performance art collective that travels ’round the globe tailoring their faux public access variety show to the communities in which they land.
Whoop Dee Doo was brought to Baltimore’s Gallery CA by three MICA Curatorial Arts graduate students, Deana Hagga, Matt Spalding and Catherine Akins, for the inaugural rebranding of what was previously known as the City Arts Gallery. For nearly a month, at least two and at most 18 Whoop Dee Doo’ers worked amidst a mountain of cardboard and plywood to create an elaborate set for their April 26th live taping.
The storyline for this particular show introduces the King and Queen of a faraway land – Andagaar. The King and “Jumbo”, the Queen, preside over the stage in a wacky cross cultural exchange; sharing the history and geology of their land complete with exploding cake by Charm City Cakes. Hosts and WDD co-founders Jaimie Warren and Matt Roche worked with local talents Mourine Supartha, Towson University Rhythm Step Team, Muse 360 and Nepali-Elvis Prem Raja Mahat prior to the show and presented what Baltimore had to offer before the quirky court and audience.
Providing a framework under the guise of a public access variety show for local people to come together and share their talents, “remove(s) some of the cultural bias that’s sort of built into any event, whether you want it or not,” Roche shares. It would also seem, from experience, that the audience and participants are too focused on the chaos and humor of it all to really be all that concerned with any differences.
Punctuated with random opportunities for audience dance parties, and glitter-filled, confetti dotted amusements WDD was certainly a spectacle that transformed Gallery CA into something entirely surreal and yet incredibly Baltimore. Where else could exploding confections, drag queens, wrestlers, and the self-proclaimed Nepali-Elvis come together under one roof, twist and jive with reckless abandon?
Whoop Dee Doo was co-presented by Gallery CA and Station North Arts & Entertainment, Inc. who also had Whoop Dee Doo play host to their April Final Friday event.
If you missed the show, the stage will remain up as an installation until the end of May at Gallery CA, open Fridays 10-4.