‘Villain’ lets its dark side show

There’s a little evil in everyone.

This weekend at the Kleinau Theater, seven actors will let their evil be known.

Director Brian Healy’s “Villain” explores seven characters who lead a corporate lifestyle, each with his or her own darkness. Healy, a doctoral student in speech communication from Dixon, said his early stage work inspired him to create “Villain.”

“I had all these moments where I played villains on the stage,” he said. “Nine out of 10 roles that I played here have been a villain. The roles that I played at the college I went to before this, most of those roles were villains.”

The show examines the ways people construct others as villains, he said.

“(The show examines) the larger construction of a villain, like Osama Bin Laden, or Saddam Hussein, or Pol Pot or Adolf Hitler, down to the people who are everyday villains, those people who cut you off in traffic and endanger your life.”

The characters are villains in their own ways, he said.

“We have to make choices in our lives,” he said. “Other people construct us as villains, right? You might know it, you might not want it. I mean, none of us want to be the bad guy, but how does that affect other people?”

Audiences will see corporate motif characteristics, he said, but the actors’ characteristics will appear awkward for the setting.

“What do villains actually look like when they’re committing certain acts of aggression toward one another?” he said. “What does it look like when two people try to get along but just cannot at all get along?”

Healy said the set reflects the show’s corporate setting. However, items audience members would associate with an office are uniquely positioned, he said. For example, a coffee pot hangs from a rope above the stage.

“What we’ve come to construct is at least the shell of what a corporate setting would look like,” he said. “Everyone has their own space that is uniquely their own. They brought their own things in, and also they’ve constructed (the space) in their own ways.”

Healy said the show is cast-generated. He gave cast members motivation and let them determine character traits and dialogue, he said.

“(Actors) develop their characters and would do things called hot-seat work, where they would just sit and describe, or answer questions, in their character’s voice and really kind of create for themselves a backstory,” he said. “From there, we would put them together in different scenes and try to have them negotiate to get to the end of the scene.”

Carlye Schweska, a senior from Sterling in speech communication and assistant director of the production, said this is the first show she has worked on that has started without a script. The show is about complete collaboration, she said.

“It’s completely rewarding to watch the people I’ve worked with before create something out of nothing,” she said. “That has definitely been a highlight of this process for me.”

Andrea Baldwin, Kleinau Theater publicity director, plays a villain. Baldwin said the show’s different scripting process caused her anxiety at first, but the director helped her create her character.

“I’m kind of the type of performer that if you tell me what you want me to do, I will do it, so creating was a little bit anxious,” she said. “But Brian (Healy) kind of gave us the idea, he was like ‘Just go with whatever your opposite is.’ So I thought about all the things that I am and what I am not.”

Baldwin said her character’s silent moments can be exciting for her.

“We’re always on stage the entire time,” she said. “But when I’m in my office, that’s probably the most fun because I just can do my own thing. I find these fun little nuances to do.”

Baldwin plays a villain who appears lethargic and lazy, but internally she isn’t, she said.

“She’s playing a role to get ahead, and that’s kind of her evil trait,” Baldwin said.

Schweska said she wants people to discuss the show for hours, if not days, afterward.

“A lot of stuff is going to happen that you are not going to have time to take in right away,” she said. “You’ll have no choice but to think about it later on. So I hope (audience members) take that time.”

“Villain” is scheduled to be performed at 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday at Kleinau Theater. The show contains mature themes.

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About Karsten Burgstahler

Karsten Burgstahler can be reached at kburgstahler@dailyegyptian.com or 536-3311 ext.255.

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