Sunday, April 21, 2013

Mercy Hospital - Photo Shoot

 Every year, I write a new play for my senior class at BoCo to perform, based on improvs and projects and characters they create in class.  It's totally fun.  I usually introduce a "source text" to get us all started.  This year is was "Spook" by Mary Roach.  What emerged was a play about a haunted hospital filled with soap opera actors, murderous ghost doctors and hapless psychics.  Here's my program note to the audience, and some pictures of the production. 

All photos by Alexis Scheer.

Welcome to Mercy Hospital

This play did not exist a few months ago, and now it does.  It was created specifically for this company of actors to perform, and you are one of the first audiences to see it.

Isn’t that exciting?

As a source, we used Mary Roach’s engaging and droll book Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife.  This collection of essays examines the quest by certain members of the scientific and medical communities to prove the existence of ghosts, the afterlife and the human soul (among other things). 

Its tone is macabre and hilarious at once.

We read passages together and shared personal stories.

We created compositions, scenarios and characters through projects and improvisations.

Text and structure began to emerge.

Sometimes I would adjust homeless material that I had wrought previously, but more often than not I was inspired by these actors & what they had created in the studio.  This was truly a symbiotic relationship between actor and playwright. 

The actors also created text for themselves and their fellow cast members to perform, which is included here, as well! 

We discovered together what this world contained:

Candy Corn, Plastic Sheets & Coat-hangers. 

Syrup and disco. 

Rubber gloves & mysterious blue stains. 

We found the shapes and sounds and gestures that seemed to repeat themselves: the static of the waiting area TV, the gesture of a doctor preparing for surgery, the over-wrought expressions of soap opera actors, the incidental music of 50s pot boilers, mingled with the glittery oeuvre of Donna Summer.

From the themes and ideas of Spook emerged the characters, scenarios and world of Mercy Hospital.

To me, Mercy Hospital is actually three separate hospitals that overlap each other:

In one reality, a woman lies in a coma after a car  accident, while her husband sleeps and dreams in the hospital waiting area, a TV crackling in the background.

In another, a Professor in paranormal psychology engages three psychics to hunt for ghost in the deserted halls of the haunted Mercy Hospital: abandoned for decades after the head physician, Dr. Darling, began murdering his patients in search of their souls.

In yet a third reality, the vaguely 80s soap opera “Mercy Hospital” is being filmed, drawing the denizens of the other two worlds into its ludicrous plot lines.  Collisions will occur.

It has been a great adventure creating this theatrical world with this talented group of artists. 



Cast of Characters

Pom Pom Girl                                      Roxy York

Sylvia                                     Kathleen LaMagna

Alan                                             Marchant Davis

Professor Weldon/Big Red           Tom Hamlett

Dr. Ian Wingfield                          Bradley Gibson

Myrtle                                               Sarah Mullis

Hope                                           Sarah Smithton

Carla                            Erin “Sprinkles” Kommer

Dr. David Darling                               Brian Wible

Stefan                                                 Riley Brack  
Isadora Von Pain                  Vicky Campadonico


Direction, Set & Sound Design:               John Kuntz

Stage Manager:                             Grace Tarves

Text:                                                          John Kuntz

Lighting Design:               Michael Clark Wonson

Props:                                                Tyler Brown

Costumes:                                     Rachel Padula

Video Design:  

             Sarah Smithton, Adam Stone & Kuntz

“Mercy Hospital Opening Credits” &

“The Frosting Montage”

                 - filmed and edited by Sarah Smithton
Poster Design:                             Matthew Rodin

Crew:             Styles Speights and John Cardoza

Additional Text:

“I’m so bad at being crazy” (speech) & “This goes here and that goes there” (speech)   by Sarah Mullis

“Love Poem” by Roxy York

“Love Poem Response” by Riley Brack

“I need to cut the voices out of you” (speech) by Brian Wible

“Making love in the Partridge Family’s Tree house” (speech) by Kathleen LaMagna

“He poisoned me” (speech) by Marchant Davis

 “MacArthur Park”, “Hot Stuff” &

“Last Dance” by the Company

Special Thanks:

Adam Stone, Matthew Rodin, Alexis Scheer, Richard Malcolm and his staff, Jennifer Smith, Rebecca Butler and the Boston Conservatory costume shop, Tommy Derrah.