We premiered Necessary Monsters last weekend.
It was a wonderful experience.
I wanted to share the program with you, as well as these beautiful production photos by
PS Adding the photos takes a while. I've got about a third here now, and I'll keep adding on little by little...
Welcome to Necessary Monsters!
This play did not exist 6 months ago. Now it does. And you are one of the first audiences to see it.
Isn’t that exciting?
As a source text, we used Jorge Luis Borges’ whimsical
The Book of Imaginary Beings: a compendium of fantastical creatures “conceived down through history by the human imagination”.
The book has no linear narrative.
Rather, it reads like a dictionary of insane zoology: Banshees, Dragons, Norns and Nymphs.
We read passages together.
We shared personal stories.
We created compositions and stagings and improvisations inspired by Borges’ poetic treatment of these creatures.
Character and text and structure began to emerge.
We discovered what this world contained: Red Plastic Cups, Pill Bottles, iPhones, Luggage, Storage Bins.
Rather than a literal adaptation of the book, what resulted was a new play about 14 disparate travelers on a doomed airplane whose stories harbor the lives of their neighbors, and whose dreams and memories dwell inside each other, like a row of Russian dolls.
A dream inside a film inside a hallucination inside a noir inside a book.
The structure gets smaller and smaller, until it bursts apart.
The characters are all quite human, but contain characteristics of their Imaginary Being within themselves.
Other Beings haunt, observe and reside in the corners of the stories and scenes.
We found the shapes and sounds and gestures that seemed to repeat themselves: the “ding” that summons a flight attendant, the fast forward scratch, the hanging gesture of Clint’s victims, The Davis/Mitchell tune “You Are My Sunshine”.
Our title comes from Borges’ preface:
“We do not know what the dragon means, just as we do not know the meaning of the universe, but there is something in the image of the dragon that is congenial to man’s imagination, and thus the dragon arises in many latitudes and ages. It is, one might say, a necessary monster.”
It has been a great pleasure creating this theatrical world with this talented group of artists.
Beings in the Play
The Banshee is a wailing woman,
an apparition plagued with grief.
The Nymphs live in the water.
They are grave and lovely and may lure you to your death.
The Double is a mirror, the surface of water, twins.
They are our complement, our opposite, “the person we are not and shall never be”
The Chinese Fox searches for the thing he lost.
The Minotaur is a fearful half man, half bull. He lives in the labyrinth, a maze-like house, where his victims become lost.
The Sirens sing on the rocks of the ocean, luring ships to their destruction.
Before Adam and Eve, there was Lilith.
Replaced by Eve, she changed into the snake that tempted her.
The Jinn causes terror and confusion.
The Mandrake is a plant that shrieks when it is pulled from the ground.
Its roots resemble a human being.
A Thermal Being is a being made only of warmth.
The Chimera is a fantastical creature that changes shape.
Its name means “impossible”
The Swedenborg Angel:
The philosopher Emanuel Swendenborg believed that an angel
was made of two people who loved each other on Earth.
The Harpie is half woman, half bird: a lethal raptor with a hunger it cannot satisfy.
The Cyclops is a giant with one eye in the center of its forehead.
The Mermaid is a beautiful half woman, half fish.
The Zaratan is a living creature
that resembles an island which sinks and disappears.
Brownies are helpful little creatures
that visit homes while the residents are asleep and do their chores.
Fairies are numerous, magical and beautiful.
The Ink Monkey sits and waits until the writing is done, and then sucks up the leftover ink. He does not frisk about unnecessarily.
Cast of Characters
(in order of appearance)
Drake/The Ink Monkey Keith White
Stephen/The Nymph Michael Coup
Cissa/The Mermaid Sarah Drake
Mia/The Siren Cat Paternostro
Victor/The Chinese Fox Joe Longthorne
Midge/Lilith Megan Dorn-Wallenstein
Flora/The Double Jacqui Grilli
Clint/The Minotaur/The Jinn Ryan Halsaver
Mother Sara Coombs
Theo/The Cyclops Pim van Amerongen
Abigail/The Harpie Stephanie Moskal
Go-Go Doctor Joe Longthorne
Faye/The Fairy Tiffany Chalothorn
Kevin/The Thermal Being Shawn Platzker
Gillian/The Banshee Jessie Muni
Greer/The Swedenborg Angel Sara Coombs
Georgia Bradshaw Megan Dorn-Wallenstein
Joe Longthorne Joe Longthorne
Direction, Set, Light & Sound Design Kuntzie
Stage Manager Grace Tarves
Crew Victoria Casillo & Micah Woods
Props Gretchen Gray, Kuntzie
Costumes The Cast, Kuntzie
Poster Design Matthew Rodin
“The Cautionary Tale of the Boy and the Mandrake” by Jessie Muni
“Batman” by Ryan Halsaver
“Flora and Stephen watch a Movie” by Michael Coup and Jacqui Grilli
Additional text for Kevin and Gillian: Shawn Platzker and Jessie Muni
Additional text for Mia: Cat Paternostro & Anonymous
“Go-Go Doctor Dance” by Joe Longthorne
“Mermaid Dance” by Sarah Drake
“Flight Safety Dance/ Club Dance” by Kuntzie
Jeff Adelberg, Gretchen Gray, Matt Rodin, Marissa Rae Roberts, Emily Shankman, Richard Malcolm and his staff