Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: The Theatre Unleashed production, Tattered Capes, will soon be appearing as part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival this summer. For those who may be unfamiliar, what can you tell us about its premise?
Gregory Crafts: Tattered Capes started off as a 10-minute play titled Happy Anniversary that I wrote in an afternoon as a part of a playwriting challenge issued by my company, Theatre Unleashed, for a show called, Play/Time, waaay back in 2013. It went up once, and the script was then left to collect dust.
In 2016, I was going through my catalog of short plays while looking for one to submit to the inaugural Short+Sweet Festival in Hollywood and rediscovered the script. In rehearsing it for the festival, it seemed to me like there was more story to tell here. I was inspired, so after S+S, I submitted it to Serial Killers at Sacred Fools. We lasted three episodes before getting killed off and made it into the playoffs, where we were eliminated in the quarterfinals. But the groundwork had been laid, and I was well on my way to a finished script.
Flash forward three years and five drafts later, and here we are.
Corey Lynn Howe: It’s a superhero love tragedy: a super-human representation of all-too-human experiences in a relationship, romantic or otherwise.
BD: Greg, the genesis of Tattered Capes has been one that it long in the making, starting as a short story and developing into various theatrical iterations. What can you tell us about the story’s evolution into its current form?
GC: To borrow a phrase from the Grateful Dead, what a long, strange trip it’s been.
This script has undergone five major revisions since I expanded it from a ten-minute play into a full-length show. With every revision, I did a ton of work on the plot - specifically the ending- and what the show says about us, our relationships, and our society at large. There were hours and hours of discussion and debate after readings of it, and a lot of folks shared how they related to the story, and how the events portrayed in it affected them, in some cases very deeply. It was intense.
What I found most fascinating was how everyone seemed to take something different away from the experience. Everyone had a different idea of what the story was “about.” And of course, that lead to a lot of advice on how I could improve the script and give their gleaned interpretation more clarity. That made taking feedback very difficult, as it was hard to parse ideas that served the story from ideas that didn’t. I wound up writing drafts that took the plot in drastically different directions I’d originally envisioned, just to try them. What I discovered was that they didn’t work. So, I kept re-writing. And re-writing. And re-writing. It wasn’t until after this production’s first table read with the full cast, that I went home and re-wrote the whole third act, going back to what I’d originally outlined. But once I did, it was a real “eureka” moment. I’d found what I was looking for, and it had been in front of me all along.
I’m incredibly proud of where the story has landed, and I think it’s going to get people talking.
BD: Corey, as the director, what enticed you to join the production, and what can you share about your approach to bringing the story to life in light of its larger-than-life stunts and effects?
CLH: To be honest, I already had one foot in before I read the script. I was familiar with the 10-minute play iteration of the story, and I love Greg’s writing. He has an innate ability to capture the beauty in the flaws of a character, it makes them dynamic, and engaging, and very human. Tattered Capes was no different, and I wasn’t surprised. In fact, I was enthralled by the notion of capturing the most vulnerable parts of sharing one’s life with another, and setting it in a super-human universe. He set up a playground of storytelling opportunities, and I wanted to play.
My objective was to find all of the opportunities to highlight the harmony and dissonance of the action, reflecting the emotion of the story at every turn. I wanted the movement to breath; to emulate a yin/yang, push/pull quality, or a physical embodiment of the emotional energy transfer of the relationships. Soda and I approached all of the movement, fighting, and transitions as one would songs and choreography within a musical – making it definitive, concise and fully supportive of the book itself.
BD: You have a tremendous cast and crew involved with the production, as all are Theatre Unleashed productions. What can you share with us about the creative process of working with the team on stage and behind the scenes?
GC: I’ve actually tried to stay out of the rehearsal room as much as possible and let Corey and Soda do their thing, but as the show’s producer and lighting designer (in addition to, y’know having written the script), I’ve been at all the weekly production meetings tending to the production’s designs, marketing, and other needs. It’s been lovely working with our team; they’re all incredibly creative collaborators, and it’s been thrilling to see where everyone’s creativity takes them.
CLH: The entire process has been truly collaborative, and so enriching throughout. From first production meetings, to auditions, to rehearsals – everybody involved, cast and crew alike, has contributed to the overall product. It’s been such a pleasure putting all the myriad pieces together, knowing it has been a team effort getting it up on stage.
BD: What do you hope that audiences will take away from the show?
GC: That’s an excellent question. I know what I take away from sharing this story, but even amongst the cast there’s a debate about what it means, and what happens to our characters after the curtain falls. The post-script isn’t ambiguous to me, but I’ve been surprised to hear a multitude of interpretations.
So really, what I really want is to get the audience talking and debating. If the post-show discussions from the various staged readings are any indicator, it’ll be a robust dialogue, indeed.
CLH: I’d love to see audiences walk away excited by how much fun the action is and maybe a little bit shaken for how relatable the story and its characters are, too. I think so many have been in or around relationships like the ones in this story, romantic or otherwise. The play is both fantastical and real; my hope is that people walk away from the show having experienced both of those things viscerally
BD: What makes the Hollywood Fringe Festival an ideal venue for Tattered Capes?
GC: This show’s a little gonzo; it’s bold, ambitious theatre – from a physical/technical perspective, at least - done with a shoestring budget. We’re turning budgetary, spatial, and physical limitations into creative choices… and if that’s not the ethos of Fringe theatre, then I don’t know what is.
CLH: I really liked the idea of finding all of the ways possible to tell a larger-than-life story, full of effects and fight choreography and super-fueled, comic book style action-adventure, love-tragedy… simply. Fringe forces that need. The story itself has a grandness to it, but it’s also so intimate – the Fringe is the perfect venue to attempt both of those things at once.
BD: The show will be appearing at the studio/stage from June 8-29, 2019. Are there any future plans to perform the show at other venues?
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell readers who want to learn more about and purchase tickets for Tattered Capes?
GC: I’ll be launching the show’s official website (TatteredCapesPlay.com) next week! In the meantime, follow the show on Facebook. You can get tickets on the Fringe website, HollywoodFringe.org, and learn more about Theatre Unleashed at TheatreUnleashed.org.
CLH: Go to ALL of the websites Greg mentioned. Or don’t and come anyway. It’s a wild ride, promise.