‘Hollow Plays’ take new look at classic
By Annie Alleman For GO October 14, 2010 11:02AM
THE SLEEPY HOLLOW PLAYS
When: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 21, 10 p.m. Oct. 22, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 23, and 2 p.m. Oct. 24
Where: North Central College’s Meiley-Swallow Hall, 31 S. Ellsworth St., Naperville
How much: $10 for adults, $8 for students and senior citizens
Contact: 630-637-7469 or visit www.northcentralcollege.edu/showtix
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
A new twist is put on an old classic as North Central College offers a collection of one-act plays based on Washington Irving-s famous short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”
Matthew Miller serves as guest director and producer of “The Sleepy Hollow Plays” Oct. 21 to 24 at the college’s Meiley-Swallow Hall. The show, which is recommended for ages 13 and up, is part of the homecoming weekend celebration.
This is a production that came about from a conversation Miller had with Caren Silkaitis, theater program coordinator and assistant professor of theater at NCC. They were looking for a play for homecoming weekend that had the right blend of name recognition and appeal for students, families and alumni. And they wanted an ensemble cast.
“Taking all of that to heart … there are no plays,” Miller said. “So I commissioned four plays based on ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.’ Their assignment was to write a short play based on the story in some way. It’s been really fun so far. The cast has taken to it. I think it’s the kind of show you don’t often get to do in college — working on new works that have never been done before. That is very exciting.”
The four Chicago-area playwrights, Brett Neveu, Marisa Wegrzyn, Jonathan Mastro and Steve Amic, wrote short 10- to 15-minute plays. Miller also hired singer/songwriter Sad Brad Smith to compose and perform original music for the production. Smith is known for composing the title song “Help Yourself” for the 2009 film “Up in the Air” starring George Clooney.
Miller says he’s always been a fan of Washington Irving and his haunting short story.
“Each writer is enormously talented and successful,” he said.
Amic’s play is called “Headless and Blue.”
“It’s about the Headless Horseman suffering from melancholy,” Miller said. “He’s depressed about his life. Then he meets a beautiful young woman at a holiday party who is a head hunter — a recruiter for a corporation.”
Wegrzyn’s play is called “Headless.”
“She kind of riffed on the schoolmaster theme in the Ichabod Crane portion of the classic story,” he said. “He’s a middle school teacher. It’s a comedy. A student has gone missing and he is suspected of being involved in that disappearance.”
Neveu came up with the eew-inspiring “Bloody Neckhole, Gushing Blood.”
“It’s set in a small voiceover recording studio where a voiceover artist is recording an audio podcast of the original classic ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’ … or so she thinks,” Miller said. “When she gets to the studio, she finds the script has been modernized.”
Jonathan Mastro contributed two plays. The first is titled “Live Feed of the Most Recent Blog of Urania, Muse of Astronomy.”
“That’s essentially a long monologue from a young girl dealing with big questions in her life,” he said. “That’s probably the biggest leap from the original story of ‘Sleepy Hollow.’ There are some interesting parallels but it’s definitely a play that challenges the audience in terms of connections to the original story. I think it’s a very beautiful play. It’s a very visual play so there will be some interesting stage tricks.”
The second is called “Irving Trust,” about four girls sightseeing in New York who get into a discussion about the future of the country while taking a break under the statue of George Washington at Federal Hall.
Miller said he thinks there is something for everyone in “The Sleepy Hollow Plays.”
“I think all the pieces are pretty great. They’re pretty strong,” he said. “If you like dark comedy, there’s a play for you. If you like lighthearted slapstick, there’s a play for you. If you tend towards the dramatic, there’s a play for you. It’s a lighthearted play overall, but it’s an evening that will stir conversations with the audience.”
Sad Brad Smith will provide transition music between the plays, as well as perform some new songs and do a concert after the play.
“I think Brad’s music has a melancholy to it that will play very well,” Miller said. “He’s a very funny songwriter. His lyrics are clever and funny, but also heartfelt.”
Miller thinks the audience will enjoy the production because “it’s short, it’s sweet and it’s creative.
“It will be beautiful, and it’s a really timely production,” he said. “We’re heading into a time when the air is crisper and the leaves are starting to change. The plays are very autumnal.”
The cast includes Stephanie Rudakas of Valparaiso, Ind.; Rachael Hancz of Coldwater, Mich.; Chloe Mokadam of Buffalo, N.Y.; Hannah Toriumi of Riverside; Kylie Schoenecker of Oswego; Emily Kunz of Allegan, Mich.; Rosa Reinemann of Madison, Wis.; Ross McIntire of Galva; Savanna Richardson of Terre Haute, Ind.; Patrick Loftus of Elk Grove Village; Emily Jewison of Richmond, Ind.; Kaiti Riess of Belleville; and Hywel Griffith of Pontypridd, UK.
Miller has directed productions for various Chicago companies and is an associate casting director at Tenner Paskal & Rudnicke Casting. He teaches on-camera acting as part of the faculty at The Acting Studio Chicago and as an adjunct instructor with The Theatre School at DePaul University.