With the new school year in swing, the Alma College theatre department is preparing for their first show of the season, Ron Carlson’s, Bigfoot Stole My Wife (and Other Stories from News of the World). The show will be performed four times, with two separate casts each performing twice. In total, the production will feature 18 students.
For most theaters, COVID-19 has put a halt on productions, but for Scott Mackenzie, Professor and Director of Theatre, this was an opportunity to do something a little different. Bigfoot Stole My Wife is not written as a traditional play, but rather as a series of monologues.
After watching his sister perform in a production of Bigfoot Stole My Wife at the Ann Arbor Civic Theatre in 1988, Mackenzie knew it was a show he had to direct. This opportunity finally came in 2006, while he was serving in Iraq with the Army Reserve.
Mackenzie wanted to direct a show and he needed one that would accommodate the hectic schedules of the performers. “I [had] to find something that could still go on, even if a performer was called out on a mission during rehearsal, which did happen, or during a performance, which did not – thankfully,” Mackenzie said.
With that experience in mind, Mackenzie knew Bigfoot would be a great option for this year’s unique situation. With the show being entirely in monologues, each actor will be on stage alone, making social distancing easy.
Along with that, the preparation for this show has been very different from that of past productions. This year, rehearsals are held every night for three hours, with each performer coming in to work on their monologue for a half hour two days a week.
Bigfoot Stole my Wife will be Lucy Woods’s (’24), first show at Alma College. Woods plans to major in English Education and Theatre. As a Freshman, Woods has used this production, not only to strengthen herself as an actor, but also as an opportunity to make friends. “I have only been able to meet some of my fellow [cast members], but the ones I have met are all very sweet and cool people,” Woods said.
Being unable to rehearse with the entire cast has been new for Woods, and while it has been difficult, it has also come with surprising perks. “It’s exciting because the rest of the show will be fresh for me as I watch from backstage,” Woods said, “I have seen a couple ‘sneak peeks’ of the [other performers’ monologues]. The show is going to be fantastic.”
Woods will be performing the monologue, “Baby Born with 2,000-Year-Old Bracelet”. In this piece, Woods plays an obstetrician. “My character talks a little about [the baby] and a little about life,” Woods said, “It is one of the more serious monologues in the production.”
According to Woods, the most rewarding aspect of being involved with this production has been seeing herself improve as a performer. “Dr. Mackenzie gives me lots of immensely helpful pointers and advice,” Woods said.
David Troyer (’24) will also be making his Alma College theatre debut in Bigfoot Stole my Wife. Troyer plans to major in Biology and Theatre. Troyer is excited to get back into theatre after taking a break from acting for a year. “Now that I’m in Bigfoot, it feels like I’m making up for those lost opportunities,” Troyer said.
While Troyer has enjoyed being a part of this production, he has also been faced with some obstacles. “I think the most challenging thing is trying to find a unique way of presenting the character,” Troyer said, “I’m not the only one who has this role, so I try to find little things that make my interpretation of the character my own, which isn’t always easy.”
While difficult at times, having another actor playing the same role has also been beneficial for Troyer. “Since I have a partner, so to speak, we both get to try different things, and we learn from each other,” Troyer said.
Under the direction of Dr. Mackenzie, Troyer feels that he is beginning to break his habit of changing lines. “In high school, I was notorious for adding little things here and there to make it ‘flow better’,” Troyer said, “[In this production], I [have been] encouraged to find the flow in the words that are there and how I say them.”
With COVID-19 restrictions in place, performances of this show will look very different from productions in previous years. Normally, the Strosacker Theatre can seat about 190 audience members, but at this time, that number is down to about 30.
Auditorium seating will be limited to Alma College students, faculty and staff. The production will also be livestreamed, although, at this time, Heritage Center management has not decided on a streaming platform.
Performance dates for Bigfoot Stole my Wife are set for Oct. 1-3 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 4 at 2:30 p.m.