Quest: The Hundred Pages
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a cast! After a round of auditions, The House has recruited a mix of newcomers and familiar faces as they polish their swords and set out to conquer The Iron Stag King!
I’ve guided you through the quests of the designers. You’ve seen the model, you’ve heard some enticing ideas, and you’re waiting with bated breath to hear more…but now it’s time to zero in on a new set of heroes. Take a look at the cast of The Iron Stag King, pictured here with their director, writers, and stage managers.
Before they embark on rehearsals, every production team comes together to create a plan of attack. It’s called a lot of different things. Tablework, character work, preliminary work…the House calls it Workshop. Director Nate Allen and Stage Manager Sarah Hoeferlin have set aside two weeks to workshop what Nate’s calling “the hundred pages.” It’s not a play yet, he insists. The script itself is loaded with notes and changes to be made, including full scenes that have yet to be written.
So what do they do? In a word: they experiment. As the cast settles into an assortment of chairs around an assortment of tables in Strawdog Theatre’s Hugen Hall, Nate tosses two famous trilogies on the table and promises the next two weeks will be incredibly casual.
1. The realm. Building a world isn’t easy—especially when it’s uniquely American like The Iron Stag King is. It’s the little things that go a long way. Spectacle Designer Lee Keenan is working with graphic artist Dav Yendler to map the world for us all.
2. The bump-set-spike. In his effort to turn “the hundred pages” into a fully realized play, Nate wants to find the full arc of each character—a beginning middle and end.
3. Make friends. It’s a new group, a new dynamic, and a new experience.
After a round of introductions, Nate dove into explaining the play and how it came to be. He talked about the House as an American company, the legend of King Arthur, and the idea of a round table with one crowned man. How can you rule together while someone is king? It’s a struggle that the American nation still struggles with, and it’s one of the key conflicts that sparked the writing of The Iron Stag King.
A reading of the hundred pages followed, as the cast mates leapt into their roles for the first time. It was exciting to see actors making their first pass at roles they will spend hours exploring and crafting. I’ll tell you this much about the play: it’s fantastic. I’m not saying this because I’m trying to impress them, I’m telling you that it’s a great story. The archetypes and classical fantasy structure are there, but it is a truly unique tale. The best part? You, the audience member, are a part of it. That’s part of the magic of theatre.
After they read through the play, Nate and Chris asked questions and fielded questions. They clarified plot points and took notes to make their piece better. The knights of this round table are helping to craft this story. It’s truly an ensemble-built piece of theatrical storytelling. To go into too much more detail would give too much away, but these conversations speak to the talents of these artists.
What struck me was how utterly casual the workshop environment is. These are professionals who have dedicated themselves to their crafts, but who still have time to have fun. Nate used note cards as a clarification exercise, cast members swapped Fourth of July stories, and Chris sought out friends with the same taste in music.
Workshops continue next week as the cast begins work with movement, song, dance, and puppetry. Stay tuned to Open House for more inside looks at the tireless adventure that is The Iron Stag King!