The Force is with Know Theatre in its Next Production: “All Childish Things”

Sneak Preview by Abby Rowold of All Childish Things: Know Theatre

James Creque, Ben Dudley, Chris Wesselman and Laurie Benning Roberts in "All Childish Things"

James Creque, Ben Dudley, Chris Wesselman and Laurie Benning Roberts in “All Childish Things”

All Childish Things, the play by Joseph Zettelmaier and the Know Theatre’s next mainstage offering in an adventurous season, focuses on the effects of a generation raised on Star Wars. The films and merchandise flooded our homes and filled our minds with the potential for never ending adventure and excitement.

Know Theatre’s Associate Artistic Director Tamara Winters says this about All Childish Things: “Certainly, it’s a play about negotiating the difference between the ideals of our childhoods versus the often harsher realities of adulthood. In this case, those expectations were set by the epic promise of Star Wars for these characters, and the realities of adulthood are nowhere near as satisfying as the promise of that galaxy far, far away”.

But Winters tells me the setting of this play is in a galaxy that is a little closer to home, Norwood to be exact. “It’s set right here in Cincinnati, which is a fun world for me, as a non-native Cincinnatian, to explore. I intentionally stacked my cast with lifelong Cincinnatians and have heavily leaned on them to ensure that we create the right sense of these guys, their friendship, their history together, and an authentic sense of what their world is today.”

With the impending release of the newest installment of the Star Wars franchise being anxiously awaited, Facebook feeds are filled with the newest teasers and trailers, and the stores are packed with new toys, balloons, clothing, soup cans, and anything you can fit a picture of Yoda on. It is an odd sensation, like time hasn’t passed, and memories are flooding back for people who grew up in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. So many decades of children have been shaped by the Star Wars phenomenon, and Ms. Winters is among them. Winters says, “These films have actually informed my whole life, intentionally or not…” and the same is very much true for most of the characters in All Childish Things. “It’s fun to explore what that means through the story of these adventure-hungry characters. But in the case of this play, the films have stunted their ability to lead normal lives as they hold on to the promise of something greater.”

Since Star Wars completely shaped the lives of the characters in the play, I spoke with Ms. Winters to find out how the cultural phenomenon affected her.

Question 1: I would consider myself a sort of “lapsed fan” of Star Wars. I was a fanatic in the 80’s but then high school happened and I let all of my action figures and trading cards molder away in the basement. Would you consider yourself a Star Wars fanatic, lapsed fan, or just a casual observer?

Winters: Star Wars has been part of my understanding of the world for longer than I can remember–quite literally (I was in utero the year my big brother and my dad dressed as Luke and Han, respectively, for Halloween in 1981. I was born about two weeks later). I would call myself a devoted fan of the original trilogy, and I make time to rewatch at least once a year. 

 And I still call my big brother a scruffy-looking nerf herder whenever possible.
Question 2: I got a large size Princess Leia Doll for Christmas in….oh let’s say somewhere in the early 80’s..ahem. You could brush her hair! What was your favorite piece of Star Wars merchandise?

Winters: My brother and I had the original, super low tech lightsaber toys, with which we pummeled the crap out of each other regularly. They were nothing but a piece of colored plastic stuck in a piece of black plastic that had decals on it for button, and a hole in the end so it organically made a “swoop/whoosh” sound when you swung them around hard enough. No batteries, no light: and I LOVED them. I’d still be swooping them around my apartment if they hadn’t gone the way of the garage sale about 20 years ago…

Question 3: I think going to the movie theatre to see Star Wars Episode IV is my earliest childhood memory…I was wearing white pants (bell bottoms). What is your fondest Star Wars memory?

Winters: In my house, they weren’t called piggy-back rides. If my dad wanted to throw me onto his shoulders to carry me around the house, we called it “Playing Princess Leia and the Shaggy Taun Taun.” Every time I think of that I smile. 

 I also vividly remember being allowed to stay up till 11 PM when they first aired The Empire Strikes Back on network TV so I could finish the movie with the family. I had just turned 6, and this was A Very Big Deal. We didn’t have a VCR yet, and we didn’t have cable until about a decade later, so this was my only chance to watch it as a little kid and it made a huge impression–both because it’s just a great film, and because Star Wars had the unimaginable power to supersede bedtime!

Question 4: I feel like I am close to defeating my own personal evil empire, and I am ready to settle down in Cloud City. Did you find your adventure in a galaxy, far far away as Star Wars promised you would? Or are you still searching?

Every day at the Know is an epic adventure with a rag-tag band of rebels. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

 All Childish Things runs November 20-December 19, 2015.
Wed-Saturday at 8pm.
Sunday at 3pm. At the Know Theatre, 1120 Jackson St. in Over-the-Rhine

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