When live theatre can return (safely and appropriately), it will start small— smaller audiences, small casts, shorter rehearsal periods, short lengths of shows, shorter lengths of runs… it’s all going to smart tiny and grow from there. And when things do get back up and running, outdoor venues are going to have a leg up on institutional theatres for any number of reasons.
So… with all of those parameters at play, what will be the first wave of plays produced post-lockdown? Small-cast, short plays that are designed to be performed outdoors. Unbound Productions has been developing plays for this very specific form since 2009— plays adapted for our flagship project Wicked Lit have sold out venues across Southern California and around the world with site-specific (as well as theatre-bound) productions. Since 2017, Stage Rights has represented 17 of the plays that Unbound has developed in three handsome volumes, all of which deliver spine-tingly chills adapted from timeless stories.
Here are spotlights on a handful of plays that could very well headline your return to live theatre:
THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW
adapted from Washington Irving by Jonathan Josephson
photo by Daniel Kitayama
This lyrical, loyal adaptation of Washington Irving’s quintessential ghost story has been wowing audiences and showcasing young actors since 2009. The play tells the story of the passionate school teacher Ichabod Crane, his unrequited love for the fair Katrina Van Tassel, his rivalry with the brutish Brom Bones, and his unfortunate encounter with the region’s most fearsome specter— the Headless Horseman. And if you want to know the real story of what happened that fateful night Ichabod met his end, the extended Legend(s) of Sleepy Hollow reveals all as narrated by Ichabod’s loyal horse, Gunpowder.
Not only does the play’s setting and style lend itself perfectly to an outdoor location, but its inherent theatricality has also led to sold-out professional productions from coast to coast and led school productions to national championships and other recognitions both stateside and in the UK.
adapted from H.P. Lovecraft by Jeff G. Rack
Photo by Daniel Kitayama
In quintessential Lovecraftian form, The Unnamable features a quest for an ancient artifact that leads two men to a cemetery, where they uncover a family curse and unleash a beast from another dimension. To put it plainly— it doesn’t go well for our heroes.
Featuring three killer roles and an ending that will leave your audience both speechless and elated, The Unnamable is a truly iconic play in the history of Unbound Productions. Originally staged at Mountain View Cemetery in Altadena, CA, the play lends itself perfectly to a wooded location where headstones can be placed and is especially perfect for an actual burial ground.
THE BODY SNATCHER
adapted from Robert Louis Stevenson by Paul Millet
Photo by Daniel Kitayama
Adapted from the iconic author who gave the world Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr, Hyde, The Body Snatcher long predates the film of a similar title that was directed by Don Siegel. This story tells the tale of an ambitious medical student accepts a job working for a prominent doctor, but gruesome tasks and unspeakable horrors await her when she arrives at the lab. This one is definitely not for kids.
MORE OUTDOOR TITLES FROM THE WICKED LIT COLLECTION:
Anansi and the Demons
Cast Size: 1F, 3M, 3-6 F/M
Setting: Ashanti Territory (present-day Ghana), late 19th century
Anansi is a trickster and a storyteller. He is also the leader of an Ashanti village when traditional hierarchies go south with the presence of the Ambassador. Now his village is starving and the colonists are to blame— it is time to wake the demons, but can they be controlled?
The Grove of Rashomon
Cast Size: 3F, 4M, (Flexible)
Setting: 13th century Japan
A mother investigates the brutal crimes committed against her daughter and son-in-law, a samurai, in this reimagining of the iconic short story that inspired the film Rashomon.
Cast Size: 5F, 3M (Flexible)
Setting: Mexico and the United States, 1600s-present day
Told through storytelling, dance, and music, this theatrical take on the iconic Mexican legend captures five stories of vengeance and desperation pulled from the pages of history.
NOTE: Information for all the titles can be found on their individual show pages or on the WICKED LIT show page.