Walden Theatre got in touch with Krista Knight, playwright on the upcoming production Phantom Band, with a few questions ahead of the free, open-to-the-public talkback and reception scheduled for Saturday, Nov 12 at 3:30pm. Join Krista and Walden Theatre for coffee and desserts immediately following the 2pm matinee performance.
Without further ado, here’s a peek into the workings of Krista’s brain:
–What spawned your idea for Phantom Band?
I wanted to see what would happen if I adapted PHANTOM OF THE OPERA for a high school marching with the gender roles reversed. I don’t care what anyone says—I love me some Weber 🙂
My dad has limited speech capacity and I’ve always been interested in language.
I learned to read at the same t
ime as my dad. After his stroke, he lost language and use of the right side of his body.
As I grew up, I became part of the process of grasping for expression with him, participating in the search for words, riffing on his words in the hunt for the buried one. I am gripped by the way in which language tries—and the way in which language fails. The palpable dramatic tension in that disparity of almost attainment—almost perfect emotional mimesis—if we can only find the word.
As I learned to construct language, I became intimately familiar with its successes and failures, with how it is deconstructed, how it is destroyed. I saw language emerge—sprung forth through fricatives and glides. I learned the power of spoken language. Language even more beautiful and powerful as a
I saw that language always bears within it creative potential. It was the key to regaining our lives and selves after they were so profoundly altered. A passion for language and its investigation has stayed with me and I think is the reason why the characters in PHANTOM BAND struggle with deteriorating modes of articulation. And why the play looks at what happens when words are replaced with transcendent music.
–Did you draw any inspiration from your own experiences in high school?
This isn’t high school—but when I was in elementary school I used to TORMENT this kid named Ross. I invited everyone in my third grade class to my birthday pool party except for Ross, and only invited him when the teacher called me (at home!) and made me. When we both showed up on Halloween in 4th grade as velociraptors (Tint’s costume of choice) I was mortified. MORTIFIED. I thought he was so lame. And I didn’t have enough self awareness to be like – Krista – you are also dressed up a Velocitraptor. Of course I was probably in love with him.
And of course when I was writing the play in San Diego I ran into Ross again—he had become a PHD in Computer Science and, as luck would have it, terribly good looking.
So that’s where Tint’s costume came from.
But really, in high school, I was drawn to the visual and performing arts because it was an outlet for expression. I spent a lot of time trying to force myself not to feel any particular way about the things I was experiencing. I wish I had given myself more permission. I would kill to feel things as passionately as I did when I was at the brink of adulthood. But I wouldn’t give up the tools I have now to navigate through life.
–How do you think teenage actors will approach this play and the characters? Any difference from the way “professional” adults would?
Anything can happen in theater and actors playing ages they aren’t is absolutely appropriate and native to the form. But teenagers acting as teenagers, being in those bodies, accessing experiences from the gut—from the immediate world around them—I don’t think anything could be better, more honest, or more exciting for this play.
–These characters are each at a crossroads of identity, in a way that hints back to Breakfast Club and other similar movies. Are there particular films or books that made an impact on you as you navigated the minefield of adolescence? As you were crafting this script?
Breakfast Club absolutely.
I’ve got a section in my bookcase of marching band books and music theory. Documentaries about marching bands. I went to see a BUNCH live in San Diego. They had this one competition of high school Marching Bands from all over southern California. They were in the full polyester outfits and it was HOT OUT. Their parents ran alongside with carts of water.
Oliver Sacks’ MUSICOPHIA was a big influence. The brain is this amazingly elastic thing. The way we process music and the incredible way bypasses and mistakes happen—and the way miraculous alternate connections and associations are made—I find it disturbing, fascinating, and endlessly inspiring.