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The Mansion at Hangman’s Bog

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The Cast 06The Mansion at Hangman’s Bog opens at the TheatreLab in the Arts Complex at FGCU on February 19. The story is set in a well maintained mansion deep in the back wood mountains of Northeast Georgia. No one knows how it got there, but the National Park Service keeps it ready for aspiring grad students who need a retreat to conduct specialized research. Normally the entire house is reserved for one lucky student at a time. But nature, a clerical error and some unknown force conspire to trap several earnest cryptozoological researchers who must fight for their lives against an onslaught of their own beloved research Stephanie, Zak and Willow 02subjects. Written and directed by Barry Cavin, the show stars Lily Weaver as Willow, Nicole Oldja as Fay, Jake Eveker as Zack, Natoya Lambert as Stephanie and Vishal Seemangal as Rice.

Performances take place on February 19, 20, 26 & 27 at 7:30 p.m. and on February 21, 27 & 28 at 2:00 p.m. There will be a talkback with the actors, director/playwright and crew following the February 27 matinee performance. Tickets are $10 for the general public and $7 for students. Due to limited seating, please consider buying your tickets online prior to the show.

 

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‘Mansion at Hangman’s Bog’ sexy romp through minefield of ghost stories and urban legends (02-23-16)

Whose Are Bigger 02On stage now at the FGCU TheatreLab is Barry Cavin’s The Mansion at Hangman’s Bog. Filled with snappy one-liners, scintillating tongue-twisting monologues and clever plot twists, this mystery is sexy romp through a minefield of ghost stories and urban legends from Big Foot to Pukwudgies.

The story begins with five students arriving at a well-maintained mansion deep in the back wood mountains of Northeast Georgia. No one knows how it got there, but the National Park Service keeps it ready for aspiring grad students who need a retreat to Mansion 06conduct specialized research. Normally the entire house is reserved for one lucky student at a time. But a clerical error or some unknown malevolent force has conspired to bring five students to the mansion all at once. Before any of them has the chance to turn tail and run, a terrible thunderstorm washes out the road and now the fearful four cryptozoological researchers plus one must fight for their lives against an onslaught of their own beloved research subjects.

Zak 02Zack is the ersatz Bigfoot tracker. Equipped with plaster cast, he is convinced that he can find one of thees large, hairy apelike creatures (sighted all over North America) right there in the north Georgia woods. But please don’t group bigfoot with Yeti or else Zack may have a cow. Yeti, after all, are large light-colored hairy creatures resembling a human or bear that putatively reside in the highest regions of the daunting Himalayas. And don’t refer to Bigfoot as Sasquatch or you’ll be revealing your ignorance. Measuring between 6 and 15 feet in height (that’s Stephanie 021.8 to 4.6 meters for those of you still trying to switch over to the metric scale), Sasquatch is confined to the northwestern United States and western Canada. If you really want to get down and dirty, the Bigfoot of northern Georgia  is also not to be confused with Skunk Ape. That evil creature only inhabits the swamps of Florida and southern Georgia. And it haint no Gigantopithecus, by any stretch. You won’t find them beyond the Pleistocene to late Holocene epochs.

Fay 01The gypsy-like Fay has a different creature within her ephemeral sights. She’s there for the Pukwudgie, a 2 to 3 foot tall (61 to 91 cm for those of you on the metric system) being that resembles a human, well, except for the enlarged noses, fingers, ears and smooth grey skin which has been known at times to glow (and not just on foggy Christmas Eves). As Fay will be only too happy to tell you, Pukwudgies are magical little people of the forest first described in Algonquian folklore – similar to European gnomes or fairies. Their name literally means ‘person of the wilderness’ and they are usually considered Fay and Zak 02to be spirits of the forest. In some traditions, they have a sweet smell and are associated with flowers. Pukwudgies have magical powers that include the ability to turn invisible, confuse people or make them forget things. They are shapeshifters who can turn into cougars or other dangerous animals. They can also bring harm to people by staring at them.

Pukwudgie stories are told throughout the northeastern United States, southeastern Canada, Rice and Fay 02and the Great Lakes region. However, their nature varies in the folklore of different tribes. In the Ojibwe and other Great Lakes tribes, the pukwudgie (or bagwajinini) is considered a mischievous but basically good-natured creature who plays tricks on people but is not dangerous. In the Abenaki and other northeast Algonquian tribes, a pukwudgie (or bokwjimen) can be dangerous, but only to people who treat him with disrespect. In the Wampanoag and other tribes of Willow and Zak 02southern New England, pukwudgies are capricious and dangerous creatures who may play harmless tricks or even help a human neighbor, but are just as likely to steal children or commit deadly acts of sabotage.

It could be the Pukwudgies who make all of that God-awful noise upstairs in the old mansion throughout the show. Or it could be a haint, a term that signifies ghosts, apparitions, the dead or the demonic who have intent to visit if not harm the living. That’s why Rice sets up his EVP Detector Mansion 08midway through the first act. What’s that, you ask? Why an EVP Detector is a nifty device that’s used to measure electronic voice phenomenon (hence, “EVP”), which are spirit voices that have been either unintentionally recorded or intentionally requested and recorded.

Confused? You needn’t be. Willow will explain it with supernormal clarity, electro-optic effect and Ishtar 02an awesome display of quantum memory. I mean, quantum memory is so superior to classical memory, don’t you know? Ergo, since an a priori known quantum state has a complete classical description (its density matrix), it can be reconstructed with an arbitrarily high fidelity by a setup only storing this description in classical memory.

But the real star of this play is not Willow, Fay, Rice, Zack or his promiscuous girlfriend, Ishtar 06Stephanie. It’s not the winged, bipedal and hooved Jersey Devil or Mothman, that winged beast of Mormon lore resembling a moth with a circular looking body when its wings are outstretched. No, the real intelligence in this production is Ishtar, the East Semitic Akkadian, Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of fertility, love, war and sex. Stephanie 04Possibly linked to those tripod shuttling greys (you know, extraterrestrial beings who are named for their unique skin color), this bitch is an evil, heartless woman who destroyed her mates and lovers. But you will have to attend one of the remaining performances of this TheatreLab production to decide for yourself whether the occupants of the Mansion at Hangman’s Bog are under Ishtar’s influence or some other dastardly deathwatch.

Please see above for remaining play dates, times and ticket information.

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‘Mansion at Hangman’s Bog’ full of clever one-liners, riveting riffs and good cast chemistry (02-19-16)

Mansion 02The Mansion at Hangman’s Bog opens tonight at the FGCU TheatreLab. The story is set in a well maintained mansion deep in the back wood mountains of Northeast Georgia. No one knows how it got there, but the National Park Service keeps it ready for aspiring grad students who need a retreat to conduct specialized research. Normally, the entire house is reserved for one Mansion 04lucky student at a time. But nature, a clerical error and some unknown force conspire to trap several earnest cryptozoological researchers who must fight for their lives against an onslaught of their beloved research subjects.

Written and directed by FGCU Professor of Theatre Barry Cavin (who has designed and directed over forty fully produced plays during his career, including more than a dozen for the FGCU community), the plot is fresh, fun and clever and the dialogue and laugh lines not only resonate with the student population, but general Stephanie 02audiences as well. The acting is exemplary, with all five cast members expertly handling heavy line loads, comedic timing and farcical facial expressions and romps. Lily Weaver plays Willow, Nicole Oldja is Fay, Jake Eveker, Vishal Seemangal is Rice and Natoya Lambert is the seeming ditzy and promiscuous Stephanie. Each demonstrate the old cliche’ that “things are rarely what they seem,” and beside the humor and compact one-liners, what makes this play so compelling is tring to Stephanie, Zak and Willow 02figure out what’s going on. Although clues abound, both playwright and cast keep the ending a surprise in the best whodunit tradition.

Kudos go to AaJahne John-Baptiste Elana Deutch, Nicole May, Yanni Georjulus, Tyler Nash for a well-crafted set, Rebecca Nicols and Shoshana Cohen for the interesting props, and Shoshana Cohen and Taylor Sweat for lighing and sound.

If you are a murder-mystery fan or just like good plots, good dialogue and good acting, The Mansion at Hangman’s Bog is for you. Please see above for play dates, times and ticket information.

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Spotlight on ‘Mansion at Hangman’s Bog’ playwright and director Barry Cavin (02-16-16)

Cavin 04The Mansion at Hangman’s Bog is a wild and hilarious new comedy written and directed by FGCU Professor of Theatre Barry Cavin especially for the FGCU community. Cavin has designed and directed over forty fully-produced plays during his career, more than a dozen of which have been staged at FGCU, where he writes, directs, and designs his own original conceptual work like Wooden Mouth and The Living Blog: Apocalypse. He also directs student work such as Paler Than Grass and Orphan Bunko. His directing credits extend to a full spectrum Cavin 02of classic and contemporary plays, including Agamemnon, Beyond Therapy, Exit the King, No Exit, Psychosis 4.48, Three Sisters, and Woyzeck. Mr. Cavin is delighted to be serving the university in his current capacity and is looking forward to working with the people of Southwest Florida to build an interest in lively art of theatre and he is excited to be working with his fellow colleagues and students to create a great environment for development of new theatre knowledge.

 

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