Friday, April 14, 2017

Dissecting Skinner

Bambi: "Was this your idea?"
     "Skinner," a one-act play written by Mike Stephens, was selected for the Oregon State University Theatre One-Act Festival (truth be told, I selected it). This clever play caught my attention for its clever take on 1990's horror movies. Four anthropomorphic animals venture into the woods, even though stories and myths have circulated about a vile human that slays the precious woodland critters. What could possibly be more indicative of a particular genre of film? Okay, so most 90's horror films did not feature animals as the primary characters. Yet, what Mike has written does not require the binds of the animal world. His characters fit into that genre flawlessly: the jock, the cheerleader, the nerd, and the girl that sleeps around. The words on the page align with that genre. If it were not for the fact that these were animal characters, one reading the script may even feel it is a horror story. And that is what Mike has done so well. While we have yet to cast the shows (auditions are this Sunday and Monday), his writing will make it easy for actors to fully commit and believe in the story being told. They can have that conviction that there is some menace in the shadows, because that is what Mike has so artfully done.
Honey: "We're alone in the middle of a forest, Hopper!"
     The characters of this story include Honey (a badger), Buck (a deer), Bambi (take a wild guess), and Hopper (again). The four characters are out for a night camping. Hopper reminds them of the legends of a terrifying human that slaughtered the mightiest of woodland animals, Mr. Grizzly. Buck and Bambi, the jock and head cheerleader, have come to the forest to cement their relationship, a standard for high school couples. Honey has come along because she has feelings for Hopper. Or is she simply there to distract him while his best friend scores some points? Hopper has agreed to come along under the ruse that they are searching for the Skinner. Of course, Hopper is the president of the high school club dedicated to finding proof of this Loch Ness Man. As the night wears on, that proof arrives. Like a magic trick, Honey disappears. Unlike a magic trick, she does not reappear. Well, not all of her at least. Her tail on the ground ushers in a frantic search to find her before it's too late. Will she be found in time, or will you be wearing her fur in next season's fashion line? Come to the Spring One-Act Festival to find out. The performances will take place in Withycombe Hall's Lab Theatre, June 1-3 at 7:30 pm, and June 4 at 2:00 pm.


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