Photo courtesy Theatre Pro Rata
Director Wade Vaughn admits that he though the latest Theatre Pro Rata show, Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom, wasn't the thing for him.
"I read the first page and a half, and then I put the play away," Vaughn says. The piece's mix of massive, multi-player online games and b-movie horror wasn't in his normal wheelhouse. "I picked it up again and tried to get through it. It was when I tried to explain it to someone that I found the depth and interest outside of the video game/horror movie side. I saw it in my head. I finished up the script really fast and then went back and read it again."
Jennifer Haley's script centers on a new game that is sweeping the nation, one that bridges the gap between the simulated world and the real world.
In the game, the street plans and blueprints of each neighborhood and home are uploaded to create the world. "It is your neighborhood," Vaughn says. "We start to see those worlds blur. We're never sure what world we are living in. The worlds do collide. They do mix in and around each other."
"The core of it is people trying to connect with each other," Vaughn says. The characters spend their time in isolation, either in the world of the game or in their homes in the suburbs.
There is also the video game/zombie side of the story, which Vaughn admits is "really something cool."
To get this side of the show together, the cast and crew did some research. No, they didn't join the Horde or anything like that. "We watched documentaries about World of Warcraft and the gamer communities," he says.
Props designer Amy Bouthilette is the production's resident gamer geek. Her designs emulate the classic, 8-bit era of gaming.
That vibe extends beyond the props. "We're working with a stylized physicality," Vaughn says, noting that even the dialogue is loaded with words and phrases drawn from the gaming world.
For Vaughn and the company "the greatest thing and the hardest thing is that she didn't write any stage directions. She suggests at the front that the story should be done as minimalistically as possible. Really, the sky is the limit. How do we narrow it down? I tried to not get too literal with it. I keep explaining to people that in the million-dollar version, we would do this and this."
Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom
Saturday through Feb. 17
The Gremlin Theatre
2400 University Ave. W., St. Paul
For information, call 612.234.7135 or visit online.