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The Revenants Spotlight Interview: Playwright Scott T. Barsotti

Patient Zero

Patient Zero

So it has come to this: the man, the myth-maker, Scott T. Barsotti, playwright of The Revenants. We’ll be talking to him today about new challenges, zombies with purpose, and What Scares Him.

1) What was your introduction to horror?

The Schwartz/Gammell Scary Stories series got me hooked on the genre, as well as video games like Shadowgate and The Uninvited.

Oh, but it's a kid's book, how bad can it b--oh god.

Oh, but it’s a kid’s book, how bad can it b–oh god.

2) How would you define horror as a genre? What, to you, is the perfect horror story, & why?

Horror is any type of story or art that is primarily about fear. It is, inherently, a reactive genre; the most interesting horror stories are the ones that are not about a scary thing or event, but rather about how ordinary people react to and deal with that scary thing or event, how they process it, or fail to process it. I think The Exorcist might be the perfect horror story. There’s psychology, there’s faith, there’s love, there’s the unknown, there’s such a great deal of humanity in that book and film, and ultimately it’s not a story about a possessed little girl, it’s about the people around her: the very different impacts her possession has on her mother and the young priest who is himself grieving and having a crisis of faith. And it’s terrifying.

3) Zombies: Fast or Slow?

Slow. Fast zombies are effective in their own way but they kind of defeat the purpose. Fast zombies create more terror and slow zombies create more horror; and to me, horror is always more interesting than terror.

4) In re-visitng The Revenants, what challenge surprised you the most this time around? What lessons have you learned from this project that you’re excited to use in the future?

Mainly that Zagoren guy. SO DEMANDING. The thing that’s always challenging to me is how to deepen a play or tell a story better, even when it’s been done a bunch of times likeThe Revenants has. I tried to make re-writes and revisions based on the excellent work being done by Brad and the cast, and I added a brand new scene that I think may now be the best scene in the play.

5) What Scares You?

The human brain, in all its weird mystery. Who fuckin’ knows what that thing can do?

Rev Poster

The Revenants MUST CLOSE this weekend! Final performances Friday & Saturday at 7:30 pm, Sunday at 3 pm–don’t miss it!

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.~T~

The Revenants Spotlight Interview: Understudy Lloyd Vincent Anderson

The Rocking Dead

The Rocking Dead

WildClaw has been ridiculously lucky to have Understudy Lloyd Vincent Anderson support us throughout the run of Scott T. Barsotti’s The Revenants, including stepping (or staggering?) into the role of Joe several times. We’re talking today about excess, honesty, and What Scares Him.

1) Do you consider yourself a horror fan?

Oh, Yes.  I like how the horror genre has an endless amount of categories you can venture into to get your fix.  Right now I’m diving into some Weird fiction.

2) What was your introduction to horror?

I went to a Catholic grade school here in Chicago, and we had a haunted house in the basement of the church.  Haven’t been that scared for my life since.  It eventually closed due to complaints of it being too frightening. (Or funding, I can’t remember.)

3) Zombies: Fast or Slow?

Slow. You can’t hear slow coming from a distance.

4) How is creating a character for horror different than for other genres of storytelling? What lessons have you learned from this project that you’re excited to use in the future?

I didn’t find it all that much different in my approach.  Because the circumstances are heightened in a Zombie Apocalypse setting, my main focus was to keep my work honest while honoring said circumstances.

5) What Scares You?

Failure.  Porcelain dolls of any size.  And long brown-haired women running down hallways toward me in a deranged manner.

Annabelle's a hair color away from a hat trick (burn).

Annabelle’s a hair color away from a hat trick (burn).

Scott T. Barsotti’s The Revenants MUST CLOSE this weekend! Don’t miss it!

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.~T~

The Revenants Spotlight Interview: Actor Krista D’Agostino

In other words...I have no words

In other words…I have no words

Krista D’Agostino’s haunting turn as Molly is sure to hit you right in the heart, not to mention the brain. She’s talking to us today about her comfort zone, slumber parties, and What Scares Her.

1) Do you consider yourself a horror fan?

Yes. I scare easy and love a good reason to sleep with the lights on. 

2) What was your introduction to horror?

Middle school slumber parties did a number on me. I’m pretty sure that I spent the better part of my first couple of years in double digits calling my parents to pick me up at 2 am at one friend’s house or another after watching any number of movies that completely freaked me out. The night that stands out the most in my mind was watching Candyman when I was in about 6th grade at a friend’s birthday party. It was my first experience with being really terrified. We all spent the rest of the night going to the bathroom in pairs because some jerk said “Candyman” five times in the mirror.

Krista's Valentine's Day was...beyond complicated.

Krista’s Valentine’s Day was…beyond complicated.

Shortly after that I became totally obsessed with the X-Files which I guess is more sci fi/horror, but just loved how nightmare-inducing that show could be and the monster of the week episodes especially were my favorites.

3) Zombies: Fast or Slow?

Gotta go with slow and shambly because I know when they come for me I’m barely going to be able to break out above a generous speed walk.

4) How is creating a character for horror different than for other genres of storytelling? What lessons have you learned from this project that you’re excited to use in the future?

There are a lot of reference points out there for horror, particularly very visual ones. And I would say with this play in particular (*spoiler?*) getting to play one of the undead there is a lot to point to out there for what that can/should be. Creating a creature and character that is recognizable to the genre, yet with its own unique take and surprises has been a huge exciting challenge. There definitely have been some expectations to meet and exceed in a way that I’ve never encountered before. This is also definitely the most physically and vocally demanding show I’ve ever worked on and it has pushed me completely outside of what I thought was already a pretty big comfort zone, which I’m really thankful for and can hopefully take with me to anything I work on in the future. And it’s just so much freaking fun. We talk about stakes a lot in theater and in horror the stakes are pretty regularly literally life or death. I don’t want to feel that way everyday, but for 90 minutes several times a week you really can’t beat that rush.

5) What Scares You?

Airplanes. Driving. Freak accidents. Chance. I should never ever have watched any of the Final Destination movies. Anything that is ultimately out of my control, but I can somehow imagine being in my control through the choices I make terrifies me.

Make the terrifying choice to see closing weekend of Scott T. Barsotti’s The Revenants NOW! Final performances February 19th-22nd!

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.~T~

The Revenants & Carmilla Double-Header THIS WEEKEND! Plus A Special Treat…

This Valentine’s Day, WildClaw brings you its hit production of Scott T. Barsotti’s The Revenants, AND delves into the vault (or crypt?) for a staged reading of our much-beloved production of Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla.

Love means never having to say, "I'm bleeding."

Love means never having to say, “I’m bleeding.”

 

To whet your appetite, today we bring you a tale from the lighter side of resurrection, also by Carmilla adapter & WildClaw Artistic Director Aly Renee Amidei, and with a little help from Podcast King (and star of The Revenants) Josh Zagoren. Walkers v. Runners tells us the story of precocious little Andrea Tanucci, and a science fair project gone so wrong, you don’t want it to be right.

This is our penultimate weekend for The Revenants! Join us Saturday for our one-two-punch of Carmilla & The Revenants for JUST $40! OR this Sunday, you can use the code “poptarts” for $10 off your ticket to our matinee! All proceeds from our Valentine’s Day double-header benefit Teen Cancer America.

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.~T~

The Revenants Spotlight Interview: Set Designer Dan Stratton

Running through February 22nd

Running through February 22nd

The Revenants Set Designer Dan Stratton bucks a trend, gets intimate, and tells us What Scares Him:

1) Do you consider yourself a horror fan? 

Nope. Too scary for me. I have nightmares. But I appreciate the genre. It is certainly an important piece of the broader entertainment landscape.

2) What was your introduction to horror?

My birth.

3) Zombies: Fast or Slow?

Fast.

4) How is design for horror different than for other genres of storytelling? What lessons have you learned from this project that you’re excited to use in the future?

It is not different at all. I didn’t even think about it during the design process. It was not the job of the scenery to convey horror. I’ve discovered that proximity increases tension. People always tout the ‘intimacy’ of Chicago storefront, but I think the feeling of tension in a small blackbox is just as important. We put the set much closer to the audience than we had to, given the available upstage space.

No escape.

No escape.

5) What Scares You?

Black cougars, glowing C.G. butterflies, sensory deprivation, man-slaughter, potholes, et cetera.

Join us this Saturday for our Valentine’s Day Spectacular, When Does Love Die–you can see an afternoon staged reading of WildClaw’s hit show Carmilla, PLUS that evening’s performance of Scott T. Barsotti’s The Revenants for just 40 dollars!

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.~T~

The Revenants Spotlight Interview: Actor Josh Zagoren

I am Bro-mega

I am Bro-mega

WildClaw company member Josh Zagoren stars as Gary, whose wife Molly never truly appreciated his brains until WAY too recently. He’s talking to us today about pushing the boundaries of Horror, the beauty of patience, and What Scares Him:

1) Do you consider yourself a horror fan?

So much so I get snobby, but it comes from love and loving the history and really wanting to see it push past expectations. Seriously though, I’m a Horror lackey. I want Horror to think I’m cool so I’ll do whatever it wants.

2) What was your introduction to horror?

Gremlins. Thing is when you’re 6 that’s true terror cuz they’re insane and they’re your size.

3) Zombies: Fast or Slow?

Slow. It’s like fast zombies have to BE somewhere. They’re just showing off, they need to calm down. Slow zombies don’t have to rush, they got all night.

4) How is creating a character for horror different than for other genres of storytelling? What lessons have you learned from this project that you’re excited to use in the future?

It’s closer to honesty, like right on the wire, which is why I think people think it’s funny and lends itself to comedy more than other genres because what else do you do, honestly, when something is trying to kill you and eat you but run, hide and then laugh when it goes away? Staying true to that human reaction and celebrating it.

5) What Scares You?

I love the dark, I believe in ghosts and have a super sick fascination with skulls, so I’ll have to say airplanes and old photos. Photos burn moments into paper, which sounds like sorcery and 30 ton steel machines have no business floating in between space and the ground.

This book is basically, like, Josh's Necronomicon.

This book is basically, like, Josh’s Necronomicon.

Get $10 off a full priced ticket online or at the box office with the code word “poptarts.” Scott T. Barsotti’s The Revenants at The Athenaeum Theater closes February 22nd!

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.~T~

The Revenants Spotlight Interview: Assistant Director Mandy Walsh

Shedding a little light on the darkness

Shedding a little light on the darkness

WildClaw company member Mandy Walsh joins us today to talk about assistant directing Scott T. Barsotti’s The Revenants, Aslan’s betrayal, and What Scares Her.

1. Do you consider yourself a horror fan?

I do. The darker side of things have always fascinated me, and I love the kind of creativity that’s behind it. You can learn a lot about a person when they share what’s tucked away in that dark corner in the attic of their minds. (Under a dusty sheet, of course.) And that stuff is different for everybody. It’s incredibly personal.

2. What was your introduction to horror? 

When I was maybe about 4 years old, in the days before cable and even VCRs, my parents had banished me to watch the animated version of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe on the tiny B&W television in our kitchen while they watched Salem’s Lot on the big color tube in the living room. I remember getting very upset when (spoiler alert) Aslan died, and I ran into the living room looking for some comfort from my mom. As I ran in, on their giant television was a scene of the vampire’s eyes popping wide open in the coffin. My grief turned to terror and the tears instantly were cranked up to 11. I was scared taking the walk down our long, dark hallway to my room by myself from then on.

Dead Aslan...waking vampire...eh, we'll just split the difference.

Dead lion…waking vampire…eh, we’ll just split the difference.

3. Zombies: Fast or Slow?

I prefer my zombies slow, thank you very much.

4. How is directing for horror different than for other genres of storytelling? What lessons have you learned from this project that you’re excited to use in the future?

Pacing is very important. At the start of a scene things might seem just fine, but in the blink of an eye, the pacing and stakes will need to go from zero to sixty and your foot needs to stay on the gas through to the end. The other thing that comes in handy is knowing how to misdirect the audience’s attention to set up a really good scare. There’s a point in The Revenants that Brad totally nailed. I love hearing the audience lose their minds as it pays off.

5. What Scares You?

Knowing there is no way out alive is pretty terrifying to me, and I’m talking bigger than being trapped in a house with a killer in a mask and a knife. In that situation, worst case, you can at least go down swinging. I’m talking things like desperately trying to stay awake because Freddy Krueger will get you when you inevitably fall asleep, or having the Cenobites after you because you stupidly played with their puzzle box. In a more real-world scenario, the idea of being sentenced to death and executed makes me super uncomfortable. In the end, I guess it’s the idea of being completely helpless that really freaks me out.

You have just THREE WEEKS LEFT to catch The Revenants at The Athenaeum Theater! Closes February 22nd!

Find the Superbowl a Frightful Bore? Check Out Some Horror Happenings This Weekend in Chicago!

Oh horror fans, you have no idea what lies in store for you this weekend.

No, I’m not talking about that thing on Sunday where two teams of Jason-X impersonators toss around a dead pig…though you do make a good argument.

Face it, Watterson gives Mrs. Bates a run for her money in the recluse department...

In the next panel, Calvin comes back with a chainsaw…

I am, of course, talking about our fantastic and phantasmic production of The Revenants, and we’ve got some deals worth screaming about:

All weekend long, you can get ten dollars off a full-priced ticket using the code word “poptarts” online and at the box office. And SUNDAY, tickets are ONLY TEN DOLLARS (that’s right) with the code word “deflate.”

But that’s not all! Sunday night, after our 3 pm performance of The Revenants, you can head over to Geek Bar Beta for dinner with like-minded individuals to learn more about Sleep Study, an experimental new trans-media horror series.

And maybe you’re not convinced the weekend ENDS on Sunday? For those of you tired of doing the same thing over and over on Mondays, you should join us at Black Rock Pub & Kitchen for The Whiskey Radio Hour‘s winter roundup of live audio drama, featuring “The Crypt of Arabella Dodd,” by Our Fair City writer Jim McDoniel, and starring WildClaw’s own Josh Zagoren.

Come out and share a scare this weekend!

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.~T~

The Revenants Spotlight Interview: Gore Engineer Ryan Oliver

Knight on Bald Mountain

Knight on Bald Mountain

Gore Engineer Ryan Oliver is one of our returning collaborators from WildClaw’s original production of The Revenants. We’ll be talking today about fates worse than death, hungering for quality kids’ programming, and What Scares Him.

1) What was your introduction to horror?

It’s hard to accurately pinpoint a specific moment but, I remember watching some random kid’s show where a performer in a ‘monster costume’ came out and ate another character whole.  I thought it was dynamite, from there on I’d watch Sesame Street and pine for the puppets to start cannibalizing each other. ‘The Muppet Show’ too- ‘Sweetums’ and ‘Gorgon Heap‘ were my favorites.

2) How would you define horror as a genre? What, to you, is the perfect horror story, & why?  

I took a Robert McKee (Brian Cox played him in ‘Adaptation’) horror screenwriting seminar.  In class, he defined horror as a genre in which the characters of a story were dealt a fate worse than death.  I tend to agree with that.  As in, you’re not just getting killed by an alien, it’s going to lay an egg inside of you and eventually when it hatches the offspring will violently explode from your body cavity.  The Exorcist will probably never be topped.  When you’re at your most heightened state of white-knuckled fear, humans call out for one of two things, God or Mother.  The Exorcist demolishes the institutions of motherhood and religion in a pretty thorough fashion.  In the end, the viewer isn’t left with much to hold onto.  It’s magnificent.

3) Zombies: Fast or Slow? 

Zombies are slow, anything faster belongs in ‘outbreak’ territory.  I kind of stopped giving a shit, really.

4) In re-visitng The Revenants, what challenge surprised you the most this time around? What lessons have you learned from this project that you’re excited to use in the future? 

Well, if I go into that too much I’ll ruin a surprise or two.  My job is to make actors bleed on cue in a live setting and the challenge is always the best part of it.  Generally speaking, I have to hide ‘this and that’ in the set or on an actor, it’s different every time.  I just come in on tech week, make a decision and install my gear.  I was lucky enough in both runs of the play to have kick-ass blood operators in Coye Vega and Norine McGrath (respectively)  It’s in the timing and skill of the operator that makes or breaks the believability of effect.

No, George, not that kind of Goretex...

No, George, not *that* kind of Goretex…

5) What Scares You?

I’d hate to be a hostage by religious fanatics or narco kidnappers, that would fucking suck.  Being videotaped while some asshole chops you up on liveleak.com would be the worst way to go, it’s not only a loss of life but dignity to boot.  Other than that, being eaten alive by a shark or a lion sounds pretty shitty, or maybe by some giant razor-toothed muppet.

Come enjoy our fine culinary fare & fear in The Revenants at The Athenaeum Theater through February 22nd!

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.~T~