Matt Weinglass is a busy man these days. As the founder of Sherwood Players, he has produced every play that the group has performed and directed two of them. “Dark Rapture” will be his third shot at directing the Sherwood Players. Weinglass took a break from rehearsals to give Artsweek the inside dirt on “Dark Rapture” and the work that has gone into putting it together.
Artsweek: Tell me what “Dark Rapture” is all about.
Matt Weinglass: “Dark Rapture” is a contemporary detective mystery story that follows several different characters around the globe in a search for a lot of money, about $7 million. People are lying, they’re bluffing each other, they’re killing each other all over this money. Yeah, that’s pretty much the story.
What is your purpose as a director in a production like this?
My purpose is to bring theater people together: actors, designers, directors, everyone who has an interest. I want to bring them together to be part of something different. When I say bring them together, I also mean the audience. The audience gets the chance to come into another world that they otherwise don’t get a chance to see. So that’s important to us, especially me as a director. They’re the people we are playing to, and they are the people who are going to respond to us. That’s the point of it all.
How many plays have you directed before “Dark Rapture”?
This is probably my sixth or seventh play. With Sherwood Players, this is my third big play that I’ve directed. I’ve produced every piece from here, and there have been other directors.
Can you tell me a little about what Sherwood Players are about and who they’re comprised of?
They’re comprised of students, in drama and out of drama, on this campus and out of this campus, Santa Barbara and L.A. All sorts of people come through here, they weave in and out through the years. (laughs) I say we’ve been around a while. We’re fairly new, but as each quarter goes by we tend to grow. People hear about us and they sign up. They’re considered part of the group regardless of whether they’re actually performing in the current production. We try to do one project a quarter. As far as being part of the group, that means that you’re an advocate of … anything goes. It’s independent theater, and it gives us a chance as artists to be open to anything.
What do you like about theater as a medium?
The manipulation of time and space right in your face, as opposed to film. I mean I love film, I like to incorporate cinematic aspects and put them in theater. We’re talking quick scene changes, fast-paced action, moving plot and music is important to me, just like in movies. Theater gives the audience the show right in their face and says, ‘I am right here, two feet from you. And I’m performing for you. Anything goes, anything can happen. You’re getting a once only show, and that’s tonight. Tomorrow night it might be different.’ That’s what I like about theater.
You mentioned music. What kind of music do you utilize?
We utilize all sorts of music. I’m open for whatever is going to help the scene. I’m talking about how music sets an emotional component subconsciously to the audience. And whether they know it or not, it suggests a state of mind that the story line is following. We use it in intimate moments, in fast-paced moments to drive through the scenes. Sometimes there is dialogue over music. That’s not a common theatrical convention, but we tend to do that a lot because that’s a cinematic trick that we’re doing live. It seems to go over pretty well so I keep doing it. This show, “Dark Rapture,” is loaded with musical elements and surprises that may or may not have been intended by the playwright.
Are there any original compositions?
Not in this piece. The movie we did last year has original music underscoring that. We’re actually debuting that finally. It’s been a long wait. It’s called “Into the Void” and we’re going to try to show that in spring.
What do you think is limiting about theater as a medium?
There are no limits. Of course there are obstacles, there are struggles, there is tension, but that’s part of the game. As far as limitations … the product that we show, the production, is what we want. We’re not apologizing for anything, we’re not cutting corners, and we’re not compromising the material. With this piece, I’m proud to say that this is exactly what I want to show. If I had obstacles along the way, we worked through it. We work through the night and make sure that it happens. We follow through in every way.
Where do you see your future going as far as directing and producing?
I think Sherwood Players is strong enough to leave here when I graduate, but I also want to take it with me. I want this group to expand, not just in the theatrical medium but also in film, and see what it can do on its own. We have people who support us in L.A., and they’re struggling just like we are. We’re all about the same thing; it’s just about making this stuff happen.
“Dark Rapture” runs December 1 – 2, at Girvetz 1004, at 8:30 p.m.