The Scientific Miracle Stage Blood of Gravity and Momentum
The five empty front row seats at the opening of Factory Theater's Fight City should have been a warning, but one spectator chose—bravely or foolishly—to ignore it. The reason behind this arrangement became apparent in the second act of Scott OKen's action-adventure showcase for unarmed stage combat, when a faux-punch executed near the curtain line sprayed audience members with vivid crimson exsanguination. Fortunately, the artificial "blood" in this case, was the invention patented by the company called Gravity and Momentum.
From the earliest days of Sophocles and Seneca, blood has figured in recounting playwrights' stories. Various substances have been employed in its replication, to likewise varying success, but up until 2012, these tended to fit into three categories: a) realistic, but indelible, staining whatever it touches, b) easily erased, but hazardous for eyes, mouths, hair and skin, and c) safe, edible and non-permanent, but looks like ice-cream topping.
Greg Poljacik is a SAG-AFTRA-registered stunt performer and stage violence instructor at Second City, but he also has a background in chemistry. At the 2012 jamboree sponsored by The Scrappers, he unveiled what has since been called "the best stage blood in the world." Not only does it come in a gelatinous "blood jam" or a viscous "blood syrup," and in colors both "bright" (arterial) and "dark"( venous), but it poses no risk to its wearers. A roomful of actor-fighters watched in awe as volunteer Zev Steinberg dabbed blood syrup into his eyes and reported no discomfort greater than that associated with ocean swimming.
The discovery drawing huzzahs from costumers and scenic designers, however, was the new product's claim to wash out with nothing more than warm water. (Disbelievers accessing website ZombieMall.com can see a series of photographs showing a white cotton t-shirt soaked in Blood Jam and allowed to lie on the ground in the sun for two weeks, only to emerge spotless and pristine after one machine-wash cycle.)
The full explanation of how Gravity and Momentum's blood is able to accomplish this requires a molecule diagram chart, but the simple version, says Poljacik, is that its mixture of food-grade ingredients "don't float freely," but are "locked together by means of a chemical reaction ensuring that the dye doesn't stay behind in the fabric, but instead, washes out with everything else."
You heard that right—the foundation of this theater magic is the same everyday corn syrup used as a sweetener in baking—but that doesn't mean that you can go spreading Blood Jam on your breakfast toast or pouring Blood Syrup into your coffee. "The salt content is pretty high, and there's a lot of food dyes you really don't want to ingest in large quantities." Poljacik also recommends storing large quantities of pre-mixed blood in the freezer to prevent bacteria growth.
What all this means for theaters is that productions of Carrie:The Musical can drench its heroine's delicate prom dress in hemoglobic humiliation by the quart even on two-performance days, and that The Lieutenant of Inishmore's gallons of gore can be mopped up in minutes between scenes. Let's not forget, either, the many home-grown seasonal Halloween parties, horror mansions and trick-or-treating zombies who will not need to consign their decorations to a bonfire on the morning of All Saints Day.
Fight City runs at the Factory through August 26.
More information on Gravity and Momentum products may be found at www.gravityandmomentum.org
Mary Shen Barnidge
Follow Us On Twitter