A new theatre group has arrived with drinks in hand and jokes in the aresenal: Revelry Players. And they’re debuting their interactive, immersive experience as part Greek literature and part drinking game. We talked to founder Rebekah Carmichael about what to expect of “Oedipus Wrecked,” produced every Sunday through the end of August at Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.
encore (e): Tell us about “Oedipus Wrecked,” how and why it came to be…
Rebekah Carmichael (RC): Urban Dictionary defines “wrecked” as “preceding night of drunken debauchery usually accompanied by feelings of guilt over events that may or may not occurred.” And the title “Oedipus Wrecked” is quite literal. The original show is about Oedipus going from hero to zero all within a few hours. Our show works the same way: the original text is used, but we cut out the long, drawn-out boring parts, kept the inappropriate bits and added a drinking game to help the audience cope with it all.
e: Who are the Revelry Players?
RC: Revelry Players (pictured above) is less of a theatre company and more of a troupe. The name is inspired by the Greek God Dionysus, the patron god of the theatre, wine, debauchery, ritual madness and, yes, revelry. We’re less theatre and more of a group of people who come together in honor of Dionysus. We’re out to spread such wreckless values with the populous. But don’t worry: we’re not out to convert anyone. We’re only out for a good time. That’s conversion enough.
The idea of “Oedipus Wrecked” was something I was batting around for a few years. After a late night convo at Lula’s with Steve, he said he wanted to play a woman, so J [Robert Raine] came up with a poster idea, and Grace [Carlyle Barry] was along for the ride. I finally hashed out the script, set up rehearsals and booked us a space.
e: Have you guys worked together? Describe your chemistry/camaraderie.
RC: J, Grace, and I have appeared in shows at Big Dawg, and Steve has had the opportunity as artistic director to work with them. Steve’s also directed Grace in “The Revolutionists.” The three are fairly new to Wilmington, but (according to Steve) have made some great impressions in a short time.
e: What do members bring to the table that’s different and complementary?
RC: I wrote the new script and gathered the performers together, and they haven’t voted me off the island yet, so there’s that. They get drinks during the show. They seem to like that.
Steve Vernon (SV): I’d like to think my value as a cast member is reflected by the years of experience I have as a drinker. Nothing against the other cast members, but they really can’t hold their liquor.
J. Robert Raines (JRR): I would say my creative solutioneering with tech and how I look in a cape would be an invaluable asset, but we all know it’s because I provided my own lightsabers.
Grace Carlyle Barry (GCB): I’m well aware I was only cast for my good looks, but I like to think my manic, youthful energy is a force to be reckoned with.
e: What can audiences expect of this “immersive theatrical experience”? Improv? Audience participation? Skits?
RC: Oh, yes—to all the above. Every night we’ll need to cast a few more characters to join us. It’s not a “sit back and relax” experience. Whether folks are drinking craft-made cocktails, whiskey on the rocks, or club soda, the very makings of the drinking game present audience participation by calling out what’s going on and drinking to it. We’re throwing traditional theatre etiquette out the window. There is a small stage at the venue. We’re not using it. We’ll be performing alongside the people and striking up improvised conversations as we go.
e: Have you performed yet? How did the evening go?
RC: Sunday, July 7 was our “Pay-What-You-Can Preview and Industry Night.” It was the first time the script was put in front of an audience, and we specifically invited folks from Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, their sister business Rumcow, as well as some theatre buddies to help us break it in. We had a great audience who was along for the ride, and half of them we didn’t even know. Maybe it’s the drink talking, but I haven’t had that much fun in a while—and there are people who are ready to come back and bring more friends next time.
e: How/where have you all been preparing?
RC: How does one prepare for debauchery? Steve has been sporting a few fantastic wigs. Grace has been upping her hydration and researching new fashion lines. I have been testing the limits of sleep deprivation to see what’s most inspiring at odd times. J has been getting back into lightsaber battles and spreading Good News of the Jedi. If none of that makes sense now, it will by the time you see the show.
e: Why choose WTF to host the show?
RC: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot has been fantastic to work with. The owner is a fan of performance art and has wanted to get some groups back in ever since renovating the building [from the old Browncoat Pub and Theatre]. The space is open for allowing performers to move about the aisle for interaction with guests. I think everyone on board believes it’s high time the building gets used for theatre again since the Browncoat closed.
e: What are the long-term plans of Revelry Players?
RC: I am under the belief immersive theatre brings something to an audience member traditional works and movies can’t: active engagement and ongoing interaction. Whether it’s performing regularly at Whiskey Tango, being hired for birthday parties, corporate events and/or retirement communities looking to spice things up, Revelry Players plans to keep popping up. “Oedipus Wrecked” is the sort of experience where every show will be new depending on who is in the audience (and how much they’ve had to drink). There are other Greek classics shows on the docket. We’re going to learn from this experience and make each show better and better.
e: Anything else readers should know?
RC: Whether you love Greek classics or hate them, we believe this show has something for everyone (err everyone 18 years and up). It pokes fun at society and human faults and encourages audience members to laugh with friends new and old. It’s not so hard to get along if everyone could sit down in the same space, share a few laughs, and raise a glass to the revelrous spirit within us all.