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Don't Split the Party - A New Comedy About the Roles We Play

We've wanted to branch off to cover some theater pieces. It was a surprise but neat to find out a co-worker of mine is working on a show that is going to be opening January 12th. It just goes to show that if you keep your eyes open there is always a story waiting to be told no matter where you are at. 

Nathan

Meet Nathan Kessler-Jeffrey, who has been pursuing the theater for most of his life. Since May he's been developing a story to bring to the stage. I sat down with him at his team's rehearsal space to discuss this new project. I was quickly inspired as I found out the true passion and artistry it takes to bring a story from idea to the stage.

 

I came to find that there are many pieces to the puzzle and that the process is hugely collaborative. Actors, set designers, prop and costume designers, stage and production managers merge their skills, passion, and experience to breathe life into the story and let it unfold for us, the audience, on the stage.

 The crew warming up with a quick game before rehearsal. 

The crew warming up with a quick game before rehearsal. 

So how did Nathan find himself this small army to help him? This is where you see the days, years and hours pay off of being dedicated the theater, a communal environment, and experience that encourages its members to work with and support one another. Early on in this process, Nathan told me he got 5 or so actors together and created what is more commonly known in television as a writers room. This is where it all began and the first question to ask is what do you want to do with this story? "I want to tell a story that's about the reunification of this group of friends that uses role-playing games as a medium," Nathan tells us. He said this initial writers room was what ultimately developed the story. In just the short time of talking with Nathan and watching him direct during rehearsal, I began to see his strength in communication and leadership with his "troops" as he called them.  

Directing

 

Taken from the description from the event page -

"Don't Split the Party introduces us to Rick and his college D&D buddies. They haven't spoken in three months and Rick is determined to fix that - by locking everyone in his basement apartment and rekindling their broken relationships over a game of - what else? - Dungeons and Dragons." 

 

 Brad Walker rehearsing his part as "Rick" 

Brad Walker rehearsing his part as "Rick" 

With the hashtag for this play being #wordsmaketheworld, a lot of the themes for this comedy are based on communication, clever language and how these elements combine over a game of D&D for this estranged group of friends. Nathan tells us that he explored the idea of how body language and words work together in communication to either include or exclude people. In a world where communication is split up by an abyss of social media and cell phone interactions, He mentions this is a timely piece on how important it is to be more open, compassionate and engaging in face to face communication with each other. Hence the title of the play "Don't split the party" and the concept of friends trying to come together and mend their relationship through a game that requires them to work together to complete objectives. 

 

 The "troops" working through rehearsal.

The "troops" working through rehearsal.

Nathan gave me a light history on D&D as I haven't actually played - In a game of D&D, the Dungeon Master is the one who creates the environments and circumstances to where the players can tell him or her what they'd like to do and the Dungeon Master then tells them the outcome of their actions. This gives players the excitement of imagination and creativity to play through a story as characters. There is obviously quite a bit more to the game, however, it seems to have taken the cake as the first role-playing game ever created which has now spawned a myriad of different types of role-playing games. 

 

Being a player in the artistic playground I got to pick Nathan's brain a little bit about some of his thoughts about being a creative. On what keeps him motivated he said: "Art, when done well, has the potential to take us out of whatever moment we're in and create this space in time where we have the possibility to be open to change, growth and learning." His philosophy seemed to be spot on with the idea of growth, moving forward and always trying to do work at a higher level.  


This show opens January 12 and only plays for two weeks!  To get tickets and see showtimes visit www.dontsplittheparty.org

 Photo by James Blyseth.

Photo by James Blyseth.