COLUMBIA—“Folks, this is your captain speaking. We’ll be arriving shortly at the Event Horizon, from which nothing can return …”
These are the first words audiences will hear in Theatre NXS’s production “Event Horizon and Other Plays by Don Nigro.” Confused? That’s normal for Nigro.
What: "Event Horizon," "Dr. Sinistrari on Zombie Island," "Creatrix" and "Goat," with live music
When: Friday through Sunday and June 26 to 28. All performances are to begin at 7:30 p.m.
Where: The Mule Barn Building, 501 Fay St.
Cost: $10 with reservations, $12 at the door, $8 for students and senior citizens. Call 443-0577 for reservations.
Director LR Hults, who knows Nigro personally, has directed and acted in a number of Nigro’s plays, including one of the theater’s previous productions, “Further Adventures of Tom and Huck.” Hults said Nigro’s plays are always interesting and different.
“He writes with a unique music that is quite wonderful,” Hults said. “He has an ear for the flow of language.”
Nigro is a prolific contemporary playwright who has written more than 200 published works, including historical plays, fantasy and satire.
Since Hults incorporated the theater in June 2007, he has been interested in showcasing Nigro’s work, which he calls "odd."
"If I had to categorize them, I'd just fail," Hults said.
Friday’s production is to feature four of Nigro's 150 unpublished works: “Event Horizon,” “Dr. Sinistrari on Zombie Island,” “Creatrix” and “Goat.” All of them, except “Event Horizon,” are to premiere at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Mule Barn Building at the corner of Fay Street and Hinkson Avenue.
“Now we’ve got these four short plays,” Hults said. “Their common theme is that fantasy becomes reality.”
Laura Brinegar, who graduated with a degree in theater from Stephens College in 2001, will play one of two girls in “Creatrix,” which centers on the girls’ obsession with the cult classic “Heavenly Creatures.” The 1994 film is about two girls with an intense fantasy life who plot revenge after their parents separate them.
“These girls have troubled lives and identify with the characters in the movie,” Brinegar said.
This is to be Christopher Gould’s first production with the theater, though he has previously done work with the Columbia Entertainment Co. He will play the title role in “Goat,” a one-act show about a man who gets wrapped up in a humorous conspiracy with his friend.
“I find that the character of 'Goat' is both dramatic but very grounded in the real,” Gould said.
Hults said he met Nigro while they were in graduate school at the University of Massachusetts and was the first actor to play two roles in Nigro’s pieces during that time.
“You always have a gut feeling about what is good,” he said. “But in this business, what is good is only about 25 percent of what succeeds."
Hults said Nigro has an incredible intellect and has spent his life writing.
“The language is sort of like Shakespeare,” Hults said. “The words are a train you get on and ride.”
“You can feel the energy in his lines,” Brinegar said.
Each performance will also showcase local musicians. The show will begin at 7:30 p.m. with 45 minutes of music, followed by about 45 minutes, or four-short-plays' worth, of theater, Hults said. Part of Theatre NXS’s mission is to provide a venue for live music as well as theater.
“There are incredible musicians in this town, and no one is making a living at it,” he said.
The variety-filled performances, sponsored by Brian Pape, run Friday through Sunday and June 26 to 28 and feature a different artist each night, including Ben Green, Sparks, Pop Fiction, Forté & Roe, Debbie D the Shantoosi, and Hoodoo Fletcher & Reverend Marsha.
“Audiences can expect to certainly be entertained ... possibly shocked a little bit,” Gould said. “(They’ll) come away with something to think about and ponder for a while."