New Works on the Block: Eight original shows take Harvard stages

by Madeline Smith

This semester, the Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club presents an extraordinary variety of original student-written works that kick off this weekend and run through ARTS FIRST (April 26-29). I asked the writers, directors and producers for the inside scoop on each of these new pieces.

1. []’s Monster

by Dan Giles '13

The Run-Down: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is reimagined from the perspective of the fragmented mind of Frankenstein's creature. Told through a melded vocabulary of movement and text, the story focuses on the creature's complicated relationship with his creator and his struggle to define his own identity.

The Take-Away: Being Frankenstein's monster is like being permanently stuck in the worst part of puberty—you feel awkward in your own skin and rejected by pretty much everyone you talk to. Fortunately, that crushing loneliness can be overcome in some pretty beautiful ways.

Unique Prop: A zip-lock bag filled with strawberry jelly and apple pie filling to simulate blood and guts.

The Details: 4/20, 4/21 @ 10:30 p.m., Adams Pool Theatre

2. The House of Shadows

by Josh McTaggart '13

The Run-Down: A learned man is attempting to write the most beautiful story in the world in the hope of gaining admittance to an elite cult. To get there, he must let go of himself...and his shadow.

The Take-Away: A play about embracing individual creativity and passion. Everything can be beautiful if seen from the right standpoint.

Unique Set Piece: Clear garbage bags hanging from the ceiling. They work as a really creepy surface to project shadows on to.

The Details: 4/20 @ 10:30 p.m., Adams Pool Theatre

3. Cain and Cain

by Jesse Nee-Vogelman '13

The Run-Down: A family love triangle with dead dogs and an abundance of cabbages.

The Take-Away: Don't f&*k with your mom.

Unique Set Piece: A monstrous cliff. It's huge.

The Details: 4/19, 4/20, 4/21 at 8 p.m., Loeb Ex

4. Pizza Ex Machina: A Slice of Destiny

Book by Tomi Adeyemi '15

Lyrics by Alice Abracen '15

Composed by Gus Ruchman '15

The Run-Down: When John the Pizza Guy delivers pizza to the Ancient Monk Clan, he gets wrapped up in a time-travelling quest to save the world. With the help of Monk Twins Foma and Moma, Marty Jane the Sketchy Tour Guide and Princess Shanara, he gathers ancient relics and learns the secrets of adulthood. (The Freshman Musical.)

The Take-Away: Puberty. It happens.

Unique Set Piece: The background is a story-book. When the characters move into a new setting, a page turns.

The Details: 4/19 @ 7, 4/20 @ 8 p.m., 4/21 @ 2:30 and 8 p.m., Agassiz Theatre

5. Hart Crane

by Matthew Aucoin '12

The Run-Down: As a teenager, the poet Hart Crane runs away from suburban Ohio to New York, where he lives hard and fast and writes two astonishing books of poems. But by age 32, having lost faith in his creative powers, he commits suicide.

The Take-Away: When a chorus of creepy muses tries to get you down, it's better not to listen.

Unique Set Piece: The Brooklyn Bridge.

The Details: 4/20, 4/21, 4/22, 4/26, and 4/27 @ 8 p.m., Loeb Mainstage

6. Highway 91

by Kristi Bradford '12

The Run-Down: Highway 91 is an action comedy about Mylo, a young Irishman who is thrust into the middle of a mob war in 1960s Las Vegas. To survive the ordeal and bring a murderer to justice, he must disguise every aspect of his identity -- from his name and occupation to his nationality and gender.

The Take-Away: Highway 91 lets the audience take a break from the real world and have a good laugh and a bit of excitement. It also wrestles with the idea of identity and questions whether the titles and labels given to us are a reflection of our true selves.

Unique Prop:A 3.5-foot-long stuffed sheep. It's actually a door stop.

The Details: 4/22 @ 6 & 8:30 p.m., 4/26 @ 6, 4/28 @ 8 p.m., Queen’s Head Pub

7. B!tch: A Play About Antigone

by Andy Boyd '14

The Run-Down: In a world in which long-cherished cultural values are being eroded by the sands of time, one brave rebel fights for trust, justice and the Theban code of honor. Things go poorly.

The Take-Away: Until we reconfigure our minds to be able to conceptualize a world outside our immediate orbit, we will continue to perpetuate structures of oppression and injustice.

Unique Prop: Large Slurpee cup.

The Details: 4/26, 4/27 @ 8 p.m., 4/28 @ 2 & 8 p.m., and 4/29 @ 8 p.m., Farkas Hall Auditorium

8. The Graveyard Book

Directed by Elizabeth Mak

Produced by Natalie Feldman

Composed by Kyle Randall

The Run-Down: The Graveyard Book tells the tale of a child who grows up with ghosts and discovers what it means to be alive.

The Take-Away: It takes a graveyard to raise a child.

Unique Prop: Rolling 10-foot sculptures that glow from within.

The Details: 4/28, 4/29 @ 7:30 & 10 p.m., Farkas Hall Studio