Following the success of Volleygirls and Puffs, or: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic & Magic, UF’s relationship with Tilted Windmills Theatricals is now thriving in its third year.
However, The Magnificent Revengers is unlike any other show that has been done by UF or Tilted Windmills. With the help of Panza, a brand new technology, the audience will decide the outcome of the play.
“It’s a global premiere of a brand new theatrical experience,” said John Pinckard (FABA Theatre ‘98), one the shows producers and co-founder of Tilted Windmills Theatricals. “No one has ever had the chance to co-write the play with the cast on stage as the play unfolds. It’s an actual chance to really choose your own adventure.”
Panza, a web portal designed by UF alumnus Edward Cox and Dave Keene, gets its name from Don Quixote’s squire, Sancho Panza, and plays off the production company's own name after the phrase “Tilting at Windmills,” based on the same novel.
“It’s a website that you visit in your browser, but it acts like an app,” Cox (Telecommunications ‘03, MSM ‘04) said. “It’s less intrusive because we’re not asking people to download it.”
Keene, Cox’s business partner, said Panza gives the show new modes of interaction that otherwise wouldn’t have been available.
“It’s not just different endings, it’s all the way through the play,” Keene said. “There’s multiple choices. Each choice gives you additional dialogue or additional scenes that you wouldn’t see if you hadn’t made that choice.”
A typical western tends to be very stylized, but with the audience’s choices, this show has more layers. The story focuses on Dorothy Kelly, a farm girl in the Old West, played by BFA Acting senior Nicole Cannon.
“There are numerous options for my character based on what the audience chooses, and without giving too much away, I will say that things can go very differently for Dorothy every night,” Cannon said. “I can’t think of a better way to keep an actor in the moment.”
Pinckard said workshopping the show at UF helps both the production company and the students.
“It’s been a great experience for the students because they are getting a chance to work on a play at the absolute beginning stages when the playwright will walk into rehearsal with 50 new pages in two new colors and put them into your scripts and say good luck,” Pinckard said. “And that's what a lot of the students will be doing a lot of when they first leave school and go out into the professional world.”
Nick Bublitz, an acting MFA second year, play’s Big Frank, a lovable goof who accompanies Cannon’s character on her quest.
“We have to be ready to, at the drop of a hat, go from one ending to another,” Bublitz said.“It's one of the best experiences I’ve had as an actor.”
Katie Haeuser, acting MFA second year, plays the Mysterious Stranger, a character with an uncertain past and a fondness for drinking.
“There are choices that are seemingly insignificant that have huge impacts later,” Haeuser said. “I would be very interested as an audience member coming to see the show.”
Pinckard said he doesn’t want the audience to be overwhelmed by the interactivity.
“Charge your phone, if you can, because you’ll be using it,” Pinckard said. “But also don’t be freaked out by the novelty of it. We have designed an audience experience both before and especially during the show that will walk you through all the steps. It’s a very simple interface to use.”
The Magnificent Revengers in… A Choose Your Own Tragedy- A Comedy! will run from June 7-11 at UF School of Theatre and Dance’s McGuire Black Box Theater. Tickets for the show are $18 for the general public, $15 for UF faculty/staff and seniors and $13 for students and are available through the University Box Office. Please click here for more information.