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.