You wanna be in the room where it happens and see how all our shows get made? Here's your opportunity!
Part 1 of this feature on the creative process with Transy's Theater Department focused on the first part of our 2015-2016 season, which was themed around monsters on stage. (You can read it here.) Part 2 focuses on the second half of that season, which brings even more monsters and a lot more combat.
Directed by Sullivan Canaday White, She Kills Monsters was a monster of a show in the best way possible. With the addition of an ensemble, the cast grew in size to add even more monsters to fill the entirety of Little Theater. Here's the process that helped bring this story of two sisters to life.
As with Beware Wolf and Other Nightmares, this show offered an advanced design class to help create the elaborate props, masks, and armor pieces for this Dungeons and Dragons based play.
Students in this class were responsible for fabricating all of these pieces with the assistance of designers Mike Sanders and Missy Johnston. Each piece had to be backed up by research into the game the play was based on and the specific characters that actors were representing.
Design students mold masks and piece together armor.
Because this play spends a lot of time in the world of D&D, filled with fantastical monsters, there's a lot of combat that happens onstage. This required a lot of specialized weapons, but also a lot of fight choreography.
This is where Assistant Director Katie Brewer-Calvert came in. Working with Sully, she was able to figure out the best (and often funniest) way to tell the story physically. This was a new opportunity for Katie that required a lot of outside research and a lot of work in rehearsal.
Katie Brewer-Calvert (Assistant Director) supervises a She Kills Monsters rehearsal
While the cast practiced with Katie (and specially crafted pool noodles for stand in weapons), students worked with Mike Sanders to create realistic weapons, crafted with foam.
While many productions select a portion of the space in Little Theater for shows to be performed in, She Kills Monsters made a bold choice in using the entire playing space. The audience was surrounded on all sides by the cast and crew and therefore completely immersed in the action. This setup filled the entire room with energy. It also allowed for the creative use of rolling ladders as the only set pieces. These helped to create the landscape of the world, or even stood in for monsters. This allowed for the audience to use their imagination to fully see the play. And how would the show have been complete without dozens of glowing multisided dice hanging in the air?
As part of the cast for this show, I can easily say it's one of the most fun and engaging productions I've ever been a part of. What I love most about the creative process for the Transy Theater Department is how much students are able to get involved and take ownership of the work. We are able to get involved in every aspect of the production, whether or not we're theater majors. Furthermore, we truly become a team. For this particular show, it really felt like were were a family.
For me, theater is all about creating that connection within a creative team. That's what helps make the story electric and come alive for the audience. It comes when we're all passionate about the project we're working on. And I've never known people to have more passion for their work than at Transy.