When Jasper walked into the back room of the Tapp’s Building on a cold day in January, you could tell that, though the folks sitting behind a long folding table were quiet and contemplative, something cool was going on. We’d heard that there were to be auditions for a stage play of the absolutely horrible movie, Plan 9 from Outer Space, so we thought we’d pop in and see what was up. It was almost as cold inside as out, as Billy Guess motioned us into the space and we stood at the back for a while observing what was going on.
Behind the table in warms coats and, in a few cases hats, sat Shane Silman, Nick Dunn, Chris Bickel, and Kara Nelson. Before them a middle-aged man read from a script marked “Confidential” in red letters. Nobody looked impressed. (He didn’t make it into the play.)
Flash forward just three months and a successful Kickstarter campaign later, and here we are on the brink of the premiere of the live action play Plan 9 From Outer Space — Live and Undead based on the film by Ed Wood. Jasper checked in with director Shane Silman yesterday to see if we could tie up any loose ends. We gave him six questions — and he gave us plenty of answers. Have a look below.
1. What should viewers NOT expect from the show?
They should not expect to be bored. If at any time the audience gets bored, we’ve failed. But we have taken extreme measures to make sure that we do not fail.
Everything is on our side. All we need now are the Live Earth Audiences.
2. What’s been the greatest challenge?
The greatest challenge has been fighting against time itself, our universal adversary. The amount of time, money, and sheer human effort that it took to get 25 people together in a room, all at one time, over the course of three months, over and over again, and the myriad setbacks and struggles that we encountered – and are still encountering, even in this final week – in bringing Ed Wood’s universe to life, have been unexpectedly Biblical in scope and difficulty.
As a result, I have a completely renewed respect for Ed Wood, the man and the artist, and the trials that he faced in bringing his stories to the world. Creating art – whether visual, film, or performance – is not an easy job. Far from it. Our task, as artists, is to make it look easy.
3. Do you recommend folks who haven’t seen the film watch it (or Ed Wood) before attending?
Absolutely. I highly recommend seeing the film before coming to see the play. Don’t believe the claims of “Worst Movie Ever Made.” Although flawed, certainly, it is nevertheless incredibly entertaining. In my opinion, the “Worst Movie Ever Made” should equal “The Most Boring Movie Ever Made,” and Plan 9 is definitely not boring. Viewing the original film first will only enrich the experience of the “Live and Undead” version that we have created.
Another reason to watch Plan 9 from Outer Space, the movie beforehand, is that it may help you win your very own copy of it. We’ll be giving away 9 brand new special edition DVD copies of Ed Wood’s original film before each performance, based on correct answers to a list of ‘Plan 9’-related trivia questions devised by me.
And yes, I also highly recommend the film Ed Wood, starring Johnny Depp as Ed Wood. In addition to being a terrific film in its own right, Johnny Depp is especially brilliant as Ed Wood. I would also recommend any of Ed Wood’s other films, although I might be biased, since I’m a fan.
4. Who is the most likely of your actors to steal any given scene?
One of the things I really love about this story is that even though it’s a huge ensemble cast (18 people), there’s not a single thankless role. Everyone gets a chance to shine, everyone has great moments, and every character has classic Ed Wood dialogue – except, of course, for the non-speaking zombie roles. Their reward is that they’re the stars of the show in the way that the shark is the star of Jaws. They’re iconic, they’re everyone’s favorite characters from this story, everyone’s there to see them, and they didn’t have to memorize any lines.
Chris Bickel is incredible as Criswell, Mandy Applegate is perfect as Vampira, Scott Means is the ultimate Zombie, Larry Hembree is the best Bela Lugosi we ever could have hoped for, Nathan Dawson and Emily Meadows are adorable as Jeff and Paula Trent, and Nick Dunn is especially hilarious as Eros. And the list goes on and on. Everyone has the opportunity to steal any scene that they’re in.
If I had to choose one person, though, I would have to single out Gerald Floyd, as The Alien Ruler. He’s only onstage for about 7 minutes, but he is absolutely going to steal the entire show. He’s a comedic genius, and this role couldn’t be more perfect for him.
5. What is the appropriate alcohol to drink while watching the play — and will it be available at the Tapp’s Center?
Ed Wood’s drink of choice was Imperial brand Whisky, although I’m not sure if that even exists anymore.
The Whig will be operating a cash bar at Tapp’s during the show, so whatever gets it happening for you, dive in.
Just designate a driver, be responsible, and watch out for Flying Saucers.
6. Anything else you want to say?
The only other thing I’d like to say is that our main goal with this show, from the very beginning, was to have fun. We’ve been having fun with this story and laughing and having a blast in private rehearsals, nearly every night, for almost three months. And now we’re finally ready to let the rest of the world in on it. We want to share the laughs, the excitement, and the fun of what we’ve been creating all this time. We’re inviting everybody to this show as if it were a three-day party, with Plan 9 at the core of it. We’re going out there to honor Ed Wood and the spirit of his work, and to just have fun with each other. We want you to have just as much fun as we’re having onstage, and we hope to see you there.
For more information on Plan 9 from Outer Space check out the official website.