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Cry Havoc Theater Goes Retro…And Futuristic With An Audio Play


by Therese Powell 15 Jul 2020 6:00 AM

Every day on Art&Seek, we’re talking to people who have tips for virtual art experiences.  Share yours with us on Facebook, Instagram, or @artandseek on Twitter. Click above to listen to Ruben Carrazana, the director of Cry Havoc Theater’s production Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground, share his tip with KERA’s Nilufer Arsala. 

Director Ruben Carrazana Photo: Kelly Williams

The phrase, “where there’s a will there’s a way” is the mantra these days at Cry Havoc Theater Company, a group that creates original plays with high school actors.

COVID-19 shut down production on their upcoming play Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground, but the group was determined to stay connected with its audience so they turned the project into an online audio play similar to radio plays popular in the ’30s and ’40s.

Inspiration for the play came from the Voyager Golden Records–two records put aboard the NASA Voyager spacecrafts in 1977 which contain the sounds and images portraying life and culture on Earth.

“Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground” is available for streaming  from July 13-19 with a special “meet-the-artists” event online on July 15.

Guided by director Ruben Carrazana, the actors – nine teenagers and one adult- explored dystopia, science fiction and the question, “What world are we expecting to inherit?”

“We wrote it as an ensemble over Zoom and we discussed how civilizations become lost, and how we remember them,” said Carrazana. “The result was a sci-fi radio play about a group of aliens who crash land on our planet in the year 4040, and then decide to create an audio documentary chronicling what they find when they get here.”

Photo: Cry Havoc Theater Company

The theater company purchased microphones for each of the teen performers and hired an audio engineer so their lines could be recorded in their homes.

“We hear from the aliens, from the citizens of the failed Utopian society who decided to take these aliens in, we hear from the government officials of this society, and we also meet a group of rebels living outside the city’s walls,” said Carrazana. “By the end of the play, you’ll see that, in a way, we’ve created our own version of the Voyager Golden Records. A hopefully more honest, less sanitized version. A true record of what it means to be a citizen of Earth.”

Tickets for Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground are $15 and are available at Cry Havoc Theater’s website. Ticket purchasers will receive a link to the audio play which they can listen to at their convenience between July 13-19. On Wednesday, July 15 the company will host a special meet-the-artists conversation at 7 p.m. CST.

In addition, last January Cry Havoc launched a Teen Critics Program to introduce students to arts criticism. In partnership with TheaterJones/Metropolitan Arts Media, the program selected 20 high school students to experience cultural offerings (theater, dance, music, and visual art) and then review the work. The best reviews from each performance were published on TheaterJones. All of the reviews were published on the Cry Havoc website.

The six-month program kept teens engaged even through COVID-19 shutdown.

“We recruited three rounds of artists, local and national, to be interviewed by the students about what what was going on in their lives. What work they lost, what they think will happen in the future as a result of the pandemic and how it relates to their artwork specifically and the Dallas arts landscape,” said Emily Ernst, Development and Programs Assistant at Cry Havoc Theater Company.

Got a tip? Email Therese Powell at [email protected] You can follow her on Twitter @TheresePowell13

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