Welcome to the first "Meet The Scientists" post; the first in a series of profiles of the people who support us in our experiments in new works at MadLab. They not only support us with their ticket purchases, but also, and more importantly, by attending performances regularly they provide the most important piece of any live performance: the audience.
Dan Dunn is a great supporter of not only MadLab, but also several other theaters in Columbus. He is an enthusiastic supporter at our shows, and interacts with us on social media. Dan is always curious about future shows at MadLab (including our rentals) and always willing to provide suggestions for ways improve the audience experience at the Lab. He seems to like us. And the feeling is mutual. So, get to know him!
What's your first memory of seeing a live show?
When I was a kid, my parents ushered for Grand Rapids Civic Theater. Sometimes they would buy an extra ticket for me. Other times, they would ask me to help usher if one of them couldn’t make it.
What's your favorite play/musical?
Play: Memory Fragments, The Mousetrap, Skillet Tag
Musical: Little Shop of Horrors, Bat Boy, The Addams Family
How many shows do you think you see a year?
What's your favorite show you've seen at MadLab?
Memory Fragments/Skillet Tag/Control Cell
What other theatre companies in town do you like to check out?
Shadowbox Live, Little Theater off Broadway, Columbus Civic Theater, SRO
What would you like to see MadLab do that they haven't already done?
Something involving freakshow/sideshow performers.
How old are you?
What part of town do you live in?
West Side (Prairie Township, Lincoln Village)
What's your day job?
Clerk (Franklin County Sheriff’s Office-Detective Bureau)
What else do you like to do when you're not working or at MadLab?
I pretty much live at Shadowbox. I go to the Funny Bone. I go to lots of plays and other performances. I go to the movies. I used to go to a lot of Bluejackets games.
Mine were channels 87-89, but my favorite was 87. TEN: The Erotic Network. A new full length feature started every night at 10pm. Solid plot lines and 8-10 minutes of uncensored action per scene. Well, sort of uncensored. The sound came in clear as a bell (hence the importance of the solid plot lines) but the picture was a wash of colors more suited to Schokko with the Red Hat than Jenna Jameson's Girl with the Pearl Necklace. The images themselves were distorted beyond recognition about 85% of the time, but every 30 seconds or so a pop of clarity would come through to clue you in as to the current position. Once the visual was lost, you were pretty much on an audio-guided tour for the rest of the ride, but what was left for the imagination was pretty easy to piece together. Just "a bit of the old in-out, in-out" as they say.
Of course with the advent of the world wide web, it seems as though the days of coordinating family schedules to ensure alone time to piece together abstracted genitals into some sort of image that made sense both sensually and in accordance with the laws of physics are bygone. Still, I'm on the lookout. Somewhere out there is more absurdly confounding material that I can feel just a little bit naughty for finding and enjoying. Some little tidbit of entertainment that leaves just enough holes here and there for my imagination to fill in, but with a solid plot line to carry me from one 8-10 minute session to the next. Something raunchy. Something forbidden.
My Madlab - by cat mcalpine
I have written before about the way that light plays a part in the backstage experience. When I was in Spring Awakening at OSU, there was a small alleyway behind the bleachers, illuminated by yellowing and cracked rope lights. In that dim light I would lean against the wall and sing quietly along, waiting to bustle out with a tea tray at my next cue.
When I participated in theatre at the park this summer, we had the stars as light, and with those came the red flashes of helicopters and ambulances. Most enchanting though, was the way the stage lighting burned through a second-story doorway. From backstage we'd look to this blazing rectangle in the sky and try not to think about how the sweat was seeping into our costumes.
Every theatre has its own light, I've found. At MadLab, that light is purple, and it drifts in under the back curtain. It has something to do with the way the theatre is shaped. There's a small current of air that flows from the back shop/green room, past the stage, between the seats, and into the lobby. It’s not a mighty wind. It’s more of a whisper.
As the curtains sigh, ever so slightly, the stage light dances underneath them. That's MadLab's light.
I don't think that this single little light is indicative of the MadLab character, or the MadLab vibe. In the same way that, while our fingerprints are individual, they don't tell you if a person prefers tea or coffee. But, that light is unique to MadLab, and it is my quiet place, and when I find myself longing to be on stage, I think about that fluttering purple light.
I wish I could say that I found MadLab, but in truth, MadLab found me. I graduated college with two
degrees, a whole lot hopes and dreams for the future, and no idea what to do next. When Colleen
Dunne suggested I join the mailing list, a door opened.
Suddenly, my inbox was full of volunteer opportunities. Whats that? You need people to show up and read scripts. I'm there. Volunteers to move stuff? I'm there.
One weekend afternoon I sat in a dark theatre for hours on end, watching cold readings of short scripts. Afterwards, we gave feedback. What did you like? What didn't you like? How would you rate this script? It went on and on and on. I was absolutely delighted.
The opportunities kept coming. I wanted to be involved and they were happy to have me. I discovered my passion for new works theatre. I found an outlet for my art. Someone put my obsession with Instagram to work. I felt like I'd found my purpose, and my people.
I was invited to the cast parties of shows that I wasn't even in. I made bad jokes about how my face would look on the ensemble wall.
One evening at home I found myself on the verge of a panic attack. I felt like I couldn't breathe. When I was younger, these moods would jettison me out across our small town, racing across sidewalks until I was miles away from home in the middle of the night. I needed to move, to crawl out of my skin. I showed up at the theatre instead.
"Hey, do you guys need help hanging the lights?"
Sweating and shaking at the top of a ladder, making jokes and learning about the lighting grid, I forgot that I had been descending into nervous chaos.
MadLab has a lot going for it. They foster new works, develop talent, and are a breeding ground for
ideas and inspiration. But MadLab is my theatre because the door is always open for me. MadLab was an opportunity for me to get involved even when my auditions were crashing and burning. I got to act, I was able to make art, I was included.
MadLab can have my sweat and my tears and my countless hours sitting on the lobby floor trying to
make lobby displays out of magazines. They can have all that and more, because someone held that red door open for me and said "Come on in!"
Under that slowly swaying curtain, bathed in purple light, is a place for me.
Opening tonight, October 6th, MadLab presents Until He Wasn't by Patrick McLaughlin. And we're doing it IN THE ROUND.
what does that mean, exactly?
where'd it come from?
why do people use theatre-in-the-round now?
It was 4 years ago that I saw my first full Roulette at MadLab. There was something about Roulette 2012 that stuck with me. Peach with Chris Lane and David Thonnings, blew me away so I came back again for another night, and was transfixed by Slipping into Anarchy with Jim Azelvandre and Jennifer Feather Youngblood, so I came back for the final night and fell in love with MadLab due to But, Was it an Approved Death? With Vicki Andronis, and Jim Azelvandre again.
In all fairness, I had been turning into a bit of a Lab-Rat already, having started hanging around several months prior and getting involved, but coming to Roulette inspired me to write my own short play. I mentioned my idea at the after Roulette cookout to a few people and got the standard. “Hey, sure. Let me know, I’ll look it over.” (I’ve since learned that a lot of people SAY they’re going to write a play, but never actually write one.) But, I did. And it was… Well, it was finished. I sent it off to a few people, got some notes, and some confusion, and set it aside.
In 2013, I acted in Roulette, which was a thrill. I was excited to be part of Roulette, but I still had the desire to write for the show. I’d gotten a play selected for 3 in 30 and felt like I was getting better as a writer, so I went back to my first idea and re-wrote it 3 more times. The idea was great, the title was dynamite and at this point I’d seen enough great short plays to fix what didn’t work, and I took a writing class. I crossed my fingers, and submitted the play.
Now, the trick was to do it again. I’d been writing a lot of sketch comedy and was studying at Second City Chicago. I started looking through all my pieces and had a crazy idea: I’d submit a whole collection for the Playwright Spotlight Night! Ambitious? Yes. But, why wouldn’t I reach for the stars? What’s the worst that can happen, that I don’t get it?
Well, I didn’t. And, since I put all my eggs in one basket, I was locked out of Roulette. I was going to be out of town, so I didn’t get to act in this one, either. This gave me the opportunity to enjoy watching and enjoying Roulette 2015, and it was great. But, still, that thing was licking at my brain saying “Write for next year.” But, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say.
I went back to Second City and studied Show Structure for creating a revue and talked to a couple friends that direct shows at Second City after watching their shows. I asked questions: “Why did you do this here?” and “Why did you put that in this slot.”. I went back to my collection, spent a couple weeks doing full re-writes and re-submitted it. It was leaner, more focused and I found a way to get my voice consistent and uniquely me over 60+ pages.
images from ".., but it's not about that" by Erik Sternberger
And It was selected! I jumped in the air. A lot. This time, I came to watch Stephen Woosley direct the amazing cast every night, and I loved it every time. Okay, I’ll be honest, the first time I was nervous for the first two of the six plays. Not because I didn’t trust MadLab, but because every person in the packed house was there because of “me”. I had visions of them thinking me too weird and waiting outside the door to hound me as I ran to my Ford Escape.
But, by the third play I was able to relax. The plays were landing how I hoped. Everyone was laughing and I felt like my kids were flying high and free and I didn’t need to hold the string anymore.
You have until the October 1st deadline to submit and start (or continue) your own Roulette story. Check out the Theatre Roulette page under the Theatre tab for more information and submission guidelines.
“One, two, Freddy’s coming for you….”
That hauntingly creepy nursery rhyme, which begins A Nightmare on Elm Street, has plagued my childhood memories since the early ’80s with its eerie chords. If you’re like me, A Nightmare on Elm Street holds a special place in your heart as the first film to truly scare you.
You watched the characters battling Freddy Krueger, traveling with them on their sleepless journeys, only to fall victim to your own nightmares long after the movie had ended. Not being able to fall asleep after watching the film was part of the experience.
All but one character from A Nightmare on Elm Street suffered a gruesome (and, let’s be honest, awesome) death by Freddy’s claws. The lone survivor, Nancy Thompson, became the heroine, and she was one of the first characters to spark the phenomenon known as “The Final Girl.”
As the series progressed, however, the Nightmare films began to focus attention on Freddy instead of where creator Wes Craven originally intended it to be: on Nancy Thompson. And fans who embraced Nancy’s strength were left wanting more.
Nancy did return to Elm Street in the third installment of the series,but her time between the end of Nightmare 1 and the beginning of Nightmare 3 remained a mystery.
Don’t Fall Asleep is a fan film that tells the untold story of Nancy Thompson. Inspired by the Nightmares on Elm Street comics from Innovation Publishing, we created a film that is for fans, by fans—specifically those of us who know and love Nancy. It isn’t a Freddy film (although he does make several appearances). Instead, Don’t Fall Asleep is about the fact that Nancy’s nightmare is far from over.
What started as friends talking about making a short movie on our iPhones turned into an indie fan film with all the bells and whistles we could afford.
Ten actors from MadLab make up the majority of the cast and crew. When I initially approached the actors and said, “I’m making a horror film, and I want you to be in it... oh, and you’re probably going to die in it,” all of the actors said “yes” without hesitation. I don’t know whether it was my pitch or the actors’ secret desire to be drenched in blood, but their characters were soon born.
We needed to create four new characters in order to carry Nancy’s story from Nightmare 1 to Nightmare 3, so we wrote each character to represent the attributes that Nancy needed to survive Freddy’s continued tormenting:
- Joel (Chad Hewitt) is the morally flexible punk kid with a good heart. When faced with life-or-death decisions, morals are often challenged—especially when it comes to leaving someone behind. Hewitt takes his raw talent to the next level when bringing Joel to life on screen. His delivery of the character’s arc brought many pre-screeners to tears.
- Therese (Colleen Dunne) is the guarded young woman who comes across as being ruthless. Or, in the famous words of Delores Claiborne, “Sometimes being a bitch is the only thing a woman has to hold on to.” And women often need to possess such qualities to barrel through the obstacles in front of her. Dunne's performance of Therese was perfection. She cleverly crafts a character who avoids being a stereotype, and she plays the role with intelligence and fortitude.
- Dr. Travis (Travis Horseman) is the educated authority figure. He possesses the necessary wisdom to make the best decision. Horseman’s stellar portrayal of the doctor adds depth to a side character worthy of his own spin-off.
- Marshall (Casey May) is the scaredy-cat of the group. He symbolizes the little voice in your head that tells you to run when danger is lurking around the corner. Although Marshall’s part has less screen time than the other characters, May’s magnificent performance leaves a lasting impression with audiences.
These four attributes combined to bring the character of Nancy Thompson (Diandra Lazor) to life; Don’t Fall Asleep explores the question of what happens to Nancy when each of these is taken away.
Lazor was the most obvious choice to play Nancy—and not just because of her years of notable cosplay within the horror community. She knows this character, inside and out, and she plays Nancy from the heart, in a way that isn’t a mere imitation of the original. Lazor’s remarkable portrayal in Don’t Fall Asleep is a testament to what happens when a fan’s love for a character is captured on film.
Vicki Andronis and Erik Sternberger play two surprise characters from the original Nightmare films. Their performances of each character seamlessly fall in line with the original actors.
MadLab Ensemble members Stephen Woosley and Kyle Jepson, along with MadLab affiliates Andy Batt and Michelle Batt, also lend their talents on and off screen.
Written by Michelle DiCeglio, Paige Troxell and Diandra Lazor, Don’t Fall Asleep is available on YouTube and will screen at MadLab on Saturday, October 29, 2016.
MadLab's current production, Scritch Scritch by Christopher Lockheardt, is set in a universe in which men only exist as vermin - women run the world. Rebecca (played by Kyle Jepson) discovers her home has been invaded by a dirty man-pest, and her mother (Mary Sink), best friend (Shana Kramer), and an exterminator (Cat McAlpine) all lend her support and advice as she goes about dealing with her infestation.
The four actresses bringing this show to life are no strangers to MadLab, but their roads to our stage have been quite different. Many actors first become involved at MadLab through Theatre Roulette, our annual short play festival, and this was true for both Shana and Kyle. As Shana says, "[Roulette] really is the perfect opportunity for new actors to put their toe in the theatre waters." Cat, however, claims that what got her onto our stage was, "A little bit of fate and a whole lotta work. The whole MadLab family welcomed me with open arms, but I auditioned four times before I got cast."
MadLab actors in general vary from the uber-experienced to the I've-never-done-this-before. The cast of Scritch Scritch shows a similar diversity in their backgrounds. Kyle claims to have been performing since she could stand, and she majored in Theatre at the Ohio State University. Cat found her love of all things theatrical at OSU as well, after taking an acting class on a whim. Since then, she has gone on to work with a number of local theatre companies. Shana says she is "MadLab born and bred," having almost no experience prior to working with us. Each of the ladies can hold her own though - make no mistake!
Lockheardt, the playwright, has an impressive resume (for a man). A Boston-based wordsmith, his work has been seen on the MadLab stage many times in Theatre Roulettes and 3-in-30's. Scritch Scritch is Lockheardt's first full length play, and its MadLab production will be the world premiere. We asked the actresses to tell us a little bit about what they love about this particular script. For Cat, it's the unusual premise. "I love sci-fi and it's a very hard genre to coax onto the stage. I wouldn't call this show sci-fi, but it is a bit 'alternate universe' and in the very least, weird. Which I'm all about. I love when you leave the theatre and you can't help but talk and talk about the show you just saw. That's what Scritch Scritch is going to be."
As for their particular roles, some of the women are more typecast than others. Kyle says that Rebecca is, "...a little outside my comfort zone. I'm a sarcastic, caustic person 86% of the time and Rebecca is very caring, optimistic, and just a little naïve about the ways of the world." Cat, however, is perfectly suited to play the sarcastic exterminator who provides much comic relief. "I always love making people laugh, and I get some opportunities to do that in my role. Also I'm convinced my butt is going to look great in a jumpsuit. If I'm wrong, don't correct me." When asked about Daley, Rebecca's wacky but loveable best friend, Shana said, "I love Daley's unapologetic way of just being herself...actually, she's a lot like MadLab."
Written by Colleen Dunne
You know the guy from the movie Memento? Who could only keep memories for a few minutes before they evaporated, stranding him helpless amidst a maelstrom of confusing events?
Well, that’s me trying to write a full-length play.
Ten-minute plays—a cakewalk. Once I reach the last page of a ten-minute play, I can still dimly recall everything I wrote on the first page. I can remember the purpose which led a character to walk onstage and can double-check that he completed that purpose—or at least gave it his best shot—before granting him permission to walk off again.
But if that character moseyed onstage two acts and 90 long minutes ago, I will be sitting there staring at him on the page thinking, “The name is familiar, but I just can’t place the face.”
As you can imagine, this leads to some embarrassing inconsistencies in the early drafts of my full-lengths. “Chris, I could have sworn that character was described as an albino sword-swallower in scene 3. Are you certain you want him to be taking his vows for the convent in scene 8?” Well, I was certain, but now I guess I’ll check my notes.
So I was always a little jealous of the Greek hero Argus. He had one hundred eyes that never closed. Because nothing ever evaded his gaze, the goddess Hera hired him to keep Zeus from getting his horny hands on a white heifer. (Zeus, the very first drunken fraternity brother.)
If I had one hundred sleepless eyes, besides being a Visine hoarder, I might be able to successfully keep track of the relationships, motivations, secrets, and confessions of my cast of characters throughout the entire length of a full-length play. But I don’t, so I can’t. Few playwrights can. And that’s why Dionysius (when he and Zeus weren’t busy playing Wine Pong or paddling pledges) invented staged readings.
A staged reading provides me with my own personal Argus: the audience. Their roving, restless eyes can spot all the inconsistencies and errors I’ve littered about my script. Have I described a character as a vegetarian in one scene only to have her emerge victorious from a hot dog eating contest in another? Argus the Audience will wildly wave their arms to alert me. Have I assigned three different names to a character’s childhood pet? Argus the Audience will shout out my error (along with their pick for favorite name).
On my last visit to Columbus, MadLab was kind enough to provide a staged reading of Scritch Scritch. The feedback from the audience helped me to write a new draft that was not only less riddled with errors, but teeming with richer characters, sharper conflicts, and more fully realized moments. Without that theater full of people willing to donate their much-pressed time and attention to sitting through a rough read of an even rougher play, I could have never shaped Scritch Scritch into a play worthy of a full-scale production. I couldn’t have done it alone.
Theater is at all points a community effort, even at that point where a playwright is sitting alone in a dark office staring at the latest draft of his play up on a glowing screen. Because he is not staring at it with just his own two eyes. He is staring at it with a hundred other eyes, lent to him by people who know about theater, who care about theater, who make theater possible. He stares at it with the eyes of Argus the Audience.
P.S. Got two eyes to spare on Saturday, September 3, at 5pm? MadLab will be putting on a staged reading of my newest full-length, Playground Rules. Directed by Jim Azelvendre with a cast of Colleen Dunne, Stephen Woosley, Shana Kramer, and Melissa Bair, the play peeks in on a summer night full of swingers and swing sets, see saws and seduction, Gummi Bears and growing up. Pizza, drinks, and the playwright’s gratitude will be served up in abundance.
P.P.S. Yes, I realize that Zeus eventually got his hands on that irresistible heifer by sending Hermes to lull Argos to sleep with a long-ass boring story and then slaying him with his sword. But I promise if you attend the staged reading, you will not be stabbed to death, even if my long-ass boring play puts you to sleep.
P.P.P.S. But I can make no guarantees of safety for your white heifer. Best to leave it at home with Hera.
challenge: what to do with 150lbs of dry ice?
Don't ask how we got it. Just know that it was put to good use....
There was a reading going on, so we used the fog machine to set the mood for them...
Then we went for the big time, dumping all of our remaining dry ice in the cooler and filling it with hot water.
We added lights. And props. We're theatre nerds, after all.