by ERIC CZULEGER
[dropcap]S[/dropcap]acred Fools’ upcoming late night project, simply dubbed The Box, is a theatrical experiment that enlists multiple writers to create a single play from many voices, five pages at a time.
Participating writers are tasked with creating these five-page scene fragments, each one revolving around locations and characters imagined by co-producers and creators of the project, Padraic Duffy and Hans Gelpke. Submissions will be read and curated, and accepted pieces will make it into The Box to be selected at random for each performance.
The world of The Box is driven by the character Will, an old man who sits on his porch and shares tales of his life with the audience. Each of his memories is generated from a script fragment chosen for performance on that particular night. Will’s tales will materialize fully — with lights, sound, and a full cast of actors in a semi-staged reading format.
Duffy, who will be directing the production, hopes that, compiled, the script fragments will both create a sense of Will’s haunted past and work together to produce something greater than the sum of its parts.
“It’s exciting,” Duffy says. “We might have a very weird, complicated, dark narrative. Writers are trying to make connections blind, and I’m hoping that the audience will see connections that we didn’t.”
The writers won’t be completely narrative-blind, however; Duffy and Gelpke forged the world of Will’s memories into a series of evocative prompts. All of the scenes must follow the journey of Will’s younger self as he returns to his small New England fishing village after World War I. The village is fully populated with a cadre of stock characters and settings. The creators have been careful to leave these descriptions minimal, though evocative, in an attempt to inspire their writers rather than force direction on the plot.
“I tried to design it so that Will is an unreliable narrator, so that we don’t know if these stories are true, or if they’re partially true,” says Duffy.
Duffy and Gelpke are no strangers to late night experiments in live performance. However, after the success of Sacred Fools’ long-running shows like Serial Killers and Magnum Opus, they wanted to do something that put the spotlight squarely on the writer.
“I want people to come away really appreciating the writing. Whether or not it becomes a story that makes sense, I believe that the audience will be able to find a connection,” says Duffy.