For We Players, Place performs as a character. Locations have distinct energies, personalities and even desires. In the Old English epic poem Beowulf, King Hrothgar’s great hall of Herot functions as an important cultural institution that provides light and warmth, food and drink – a place for singing, story-telling and safety. The mead-hall served as a place of refuge within a dangerous and precarious external world – a world continuously threatened by attack of neighboring peoples and wild beasts of the great northern forests. The mead-hall was also a place of community, where traditions were preserved and loyalty was rewarded. This is where legends were created and perpetuated, reputations were built, fame broadcast, and history written through the telling of it. By extension, we imagine the WWII era chapel at Fort Mason Center – a place of quiet for private contemplation as well as a community gathering place – as the hall of Herot. Herot, like the chapel, is a sanctuary, a refuge for the tired and a place for rituals that support community.
Artistic risk often comes in the form of working with new materials, unfamiliar tools, and experimenting with new techniques. HEROMONSTER is a very different type of project for We Players. Unlike our hallmark large-scale, site-integrated theatre projects, which employ somewhere between 30 and 60 performers, artisans, and stage crew, this project features only three performers: two actors and a musician. This is part of a larger experiment for We Players, an exploration in balancing the massive scale of our signature works with projects smaller in scope, though still rich with poetic imagery and inspired by classical texts of epic dimension. We aim to build powerful theatrical events that are more flexible than our large scale works, and can be adapted to a variety of spaces, including indoor environments.
With HEROMONSTER, we began with the actor/creator’s version of a blank canvas – a studio with four white walls and open floor, which we (Nathaniel Justiniano and I) promptly covered with images, phrases, an avalanche of ideas scrawled on giant pieces of paper.