“I’ve been writing plays since I was five,” says Randy Wyatt, whose play 9x9x9 opens at the Bryant-Lake Bowl on April 4, 2009 as the inaugural production of The Flower Shop Project’s 2009 season. The Massachusetts native has come a long way since then – from writing plays for his church group in high school to getting his MFA at MSU-Mankato – to find himself today the Theatre Program Chair at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
9x9x9 began as ten-page scene in 2001, though Wyatt says he wasn’t sure what was going on with the characters then. “I just knew I wanted to write a farce about family dynamics with huge metaphysical issues as a backdrop,” he says. With help from the Coda Theatre Project in Austin, TX (now know as Tutto Theatre) and his fellow students in Mankato, he finished and workshopped the play throughout 2005. The play had its official debut in Austin the following year. Called “fascinating and contemplative” by The Austin Chronicle in 2006, the play tells the story of a college student, Vicki, flung with her entire dysfunctional family into an apocalyptic battle between Heaven and Hell. Handed a mysterious black cube at the airport on a visit home, Vicki is soon assailed from all sides by angels and demons (not to mention her childhood best pal or her parents’ New Age-y neighbor) trying to take possession of the cube and its spiritual contents.
As a self-pronounced “ex-evangelical”, Wyatt says that his religious background informs a lot of his work. “In many religions, people walk around as if they have a little piece of God, and it distorts their reality. There’s no room for ‘not being right’ in their minds and it can turn them into kamikaze zealots, interpersonally or otherwise.” Similarly, he says, families can become “so obsessed with themselves that the outside world can literally fall apart and it’s somehow not nearly as important as their own issues.” The juxtaposition of two such blindly-focused human realities make up the conflict of 9x9x9 and lead to what Wyatt says the play is essentially about: “the miracle of trust.” The choices Vicki and her family are eventually forced into are dependant upon “how hard it is to trust other people (especially since so, so many people seem to not warrant our trust) and yet, how we run ourselves into the ground if we refuse to trust anyone.”
The Flower Shop Project became interested in 9x9x9 in 2006 when it launched the FSP Greenhouse, an effort to introduce Twin Cities audiences to new plays by Minnesota writers. FSP company members were delighted by the metaphysical (and sometimes just plain physical) comedy and thought it would be a perfect start to their first full season at the BLB in Minneapolis. “We were immediately drawn to the quick-witted writing,” says company member and the production’s director, Brenna Jones. “But the appeal extends beyond the fast-paced humor,” she continues, “because while the characters are thrown into an otherworldly situation and presented with demons and angels and all manner of apocalyptic events, the heart of the show is about the relationships between these people and how they learn (or are forced to learn) how to relate to each other. It’s the best kind of comedy – a little dark, a lot funny, with characters that change and evolve without losing sight of who they were in the first place.”
9x9x9 features Lacey Piotter, Jeff Broitman, Laura Wiebers, Rachel Jenkins, Shannon Troy Jones, Joey Ford, Jesse Corder, Kathy Piotter and Claire Lloyd. For tickets, contact the Bryant-Lake Bowl at www.bryantlakebowl.com or 612-825-8949.
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