category: short play
running time: fifteen minutes
setting: a pastoral landscape; a college lecture hall; a grand theater
Professor Arnold Conway, a very dry academic
Dame Galeata Hastings, a very enthusiastic patron of the arts
Sondra, a vampire sorority babe
Tia, one of her kind
Ron, an inter-galactic frat zombie
Balthasar, one of his brethren
A Ghostly Messenger
Other vampires and zombies
Professor Arnold Conway and Dame Galeata Hastings have one thing in common- a love for the underground ballet, The Vampire Sorority Babes vs. the Inter-Galactic Frat Zombies. From their respective natural habitats, to their very different audiences, they present this seldom-performed masterpiece about the forbidden love between Balthasar and Tia, two young undead in love and willing to defy the conventions of their kin to have a shot at happiness. For Galeata this work is the epitome of high art and every childhood dream she’s held onto since birth. For Arnold, it’s a fascinating study of social dynamics, politics and philosophy. For Balthasar and Tia, it’s life and death, and it all happens in less than twenty minutes.
This play was first penned in August of 1998 while I was sitting home alone in my then-boyfriend’s apartment in Beaverton, Oregon, waiting for him to return from work. It was intended to be part of the Quicksilver Productions, Inc. short play collection, “I Laughed, I Cried, I Shot The Person Next To Me”, but my friend Kodiak Vornbrock read it first and Reed College audiences ultimately saw the original production staged as part of Midnight Theater, an informal sketch comedy revue I headed from 1997-2000. Eventually the ballet did make it to the Quicksilver stage, functioning as the finale to “I Laughed, I Cried…” and quite effectively bringing down the house both nights, thanks in no part to the decision to have the narrator roles played in drag (something every production should decide for itself). Of all my plays, it is the most flexible and the most absurd- a combination that really makes sense when you think about it. Each production is encouraged to cut and paste the show to their heart’s content, picking which parts of Galeata and Arnold’s speeches they like best, finding new music for all the various dances, deciding how good the dancers should be, how real their choreography and costumes, etc. Since the piece is a satire of both the academic and the sentimental response to the arts, the fun lies in making the most of what really amounts to nonsense and stage directions in the end- the catch being that whatever is present be taken with the utmost seriousness by the “audience” personified in the two commentators. When the final line arrives, it should come not as a punchline, but a benediction- a great truth imparted by a very wise man, delivered with the knowledge that “wise men” everywhere, in college campuses across the country, are saying equally absurd things every day to equally captured audiences.
Midnight Theater, October 31, 1998, Reed College Chapel, Reed College, in Portland, Oregon. Directed by Stuart Eugene Bousel; Choreography by Leah “Kodiak” Vornbrock. Cast: Jesse Baldwin (Arnold), Jamie Rea (Galeata), Paul Burdick (Balthasar), Leah “Kodiak” Vornbrock (Tia), Benjamin Lillie (Ron), Anova Ettien (Sondra), Treva Adams (The Ghost), Jennifer Fagan (Vampire), Francis “Butch” Malec (Zombie), Brent Miller (Zombie), Brett Rogers (Zombie), Kristine Sawicki (Vampire), Daphne Stanford (Vampire)
Quicksilver Productions, Inc., January 15 & 16, 1999, part of “I Laughed, I Cried, I Shot the Person Next to Me”, Cabaret Theater at the Temple of Music and Art in Tucson, Arizona. Directed and Designed by Stuart Eugene Bousel; Stage Managed by Jasmine Koh. Cast: Alice J. Flick (Arnold), Christopher McCaleb (Galeata), Joshua Galyen (Balthasar), Dana Faris (Tia), Brian McGrath (Ron), Taren Carter Hines (Sondra), Robin Bousel (The Ghost), Anne Heintz (The Bunny), Jasmine Koh (The Goat), Erik Dominguez (Zombie), Marissa Garcia (Vampire), Werner James (Zombie), Amanda Karam (Vampire), Regan Pietrucha (Vampire)
Wily West Productions, October 10, 2012, part of “The Spooky Cabaret” at Stagewerx in San Francisco, California. Directed by Clint Winter; Lighting by Quinn Whitaker; Scenery by Wesley Cayabyab. Cast: Emma Rose Shelton (Galeata Hastings), Ben Ortega (Arnold Conway), Charles Lewis III (Balthasar), Melissa Howell (Tia), Kat Kneisel (Sondra), Wesley Cayabyab (Ron), Nicky Weinbach (Ghost)