Actors and directors scrambled about the stage at the ArtsCenter, setting up their props and running through their lines, gearing up for today’s debut of the Twilight Zone play.
The play will be the inauguration of Th3rd Power Productions, run by Solomon Gibson III, and his second debut as a producer. As a big fan of the show, the play started off as merely an idea in Solomon’s head.
Solomon said the black and white show is iconic to various generations and is an element they instinctively recognize.
“Ultimately, my feeling was to have a fresh way to bring this to a broader audience,” he said.
The play will bring to life three episodes of the TV show: Nothing in the Dark, Nick of Time and Shadow Play. Each episode will stay true to the original storyline, and each will have its own director.
Gibson said one of the reasons he decided to bring the TV show to the theater was because of how easy it was to do so.
“A number of (old television) shows were live theatrical performances that they brought to television,” he said. “The writers basically wrote these plays; then they filmed or taped them. A lot of them were actually performed live on television at the time.”
The play, however, didn’t involve any writers — Gibson said he tried to stay as true to the original script as possible. He said he took the time to watch and transcribe all of the episodes by hand, then had his daughter type up the handwritten scripts for him.
Although the play stays true to the television show, Gibson said the play will feature new and innovative elements in order to bring the stories to life.
Shadow Play Director Monet Marshall said she wanted to be as original as possible when it came to her direction.
“Other than the theme song, I hadn’t watched any of the episodes,” she said. “I didn’t want to be influenced by what they did.”
Laura Arwood, the director of Nothing in the Dark, said for her, the most difficult part of directing the episodes was translating the supernatural effects made for television live.
“We had one in particular we had to figure out,” she said. “I know how they did that on television, but we can’t do that, so how are we going to do that?”
Arwood said she had to be creative and used knitting techniques to visualize one of the special effects in person.
Actor Robert Harrington said from an acting standpoint, it’s harder to translate the television show to the stage.
“You’re by yourself, you don’t have the luxury of having a director yell ‘cut’ if you screw up,” he said.
Arwood said she hopes the suspenseful storylines will intrigue younger generations who may not be familiar with the show and newer elements, such as gender swapping, and that it will surprise those who already are familiar with those theatrical elements.
“They’re universal stories that can be told using a diverse cast,” she said. “They stand the test of time.”
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