A Thing of Shadows to premiere in October 2016

Yes! It’s happening – the last three weekends in October, 2016! Ohio City Theatre Project (OCTP) will run three weekends of a full-cast production of my new play ‘A Thing of Shadows’ adapted for the stage from Joseph Campbell’s 1938 sci-fi novella, ‘Who Goes There?’ (which was the inspiration for the 1982 John Carpenter film ‘The Thing’). This is the second time OCTP has been kind enough to showcase my work. A few years ago, stage actor, Amanda Lin Boyd, rendered a sparkling reading of my one-woman show, ‘A Delusion of Sunflowers’ to a storefront theater packed with Clevelanders.

‘A Thing of Shadows’ is my first full length play to be performed by an ensemble cast.

The script for ‘A Thing of Shadows’ got a lot of re-writing. In 2014, OCTP pulled together a group of talent and staged a reading for the actors to give feed back and so I could reflect on how artificial or not my dialogue was sounding. It turns out, many of those actors had been asking about the script since. One of the reasons OCTP wanted to go ahead with it.

As I blog, I am finishing through the seventh version of the script. Honestly, they were getting worse. You get so excited about doing something like this – tackling something that’s been tackled in so many variations before – you kind of explode. You have to read everything , watch the movies, listen to the radio plays – and then research Antarctica and those fish that can come back to life after they’re frozen (look that up).

There’s three different film versions, comic books, short stories inspired-by, radio plays and William F. Nolan’s terrific, but unrealized screen treatment of John W. Campbell’s “Who Goes There”.  It’s spawned so many other progeny, makes the story itself a little like that Thing from a system with a blue sun.

Campbell’s story develops a creepy and intense psychological drama – and where big budgets and CGI can grab for gore, my stage adaptation had to try for something a little different. Campbell envisioned an alien creature that could not only consume and mimic human beings, but could also absorb a person’s experiences, memories, and personality – a being that could perfectly replicate another, and yet be its own separate Thing.

The aspect that the stage opens up to is this psychic nature of the voracious, shipwrecked visitor – Campbell posited the Thing’s abilities to pervade even human dreams. It doesn’t just penetrate and skillfully steal the biological system of another creature, it subsumes the mystical parts, the mind, the heart, the soul and brings on a kind of madness. It’s not a far stretch to think that Campbell may have been influenced by Lovecraft’s “At the Mountains of Madness” – though I’ve not found any scholar who says so.

The dialogue in the novel, is thick and stodgy and has the thudding tones that you would expect from Campbell’s 1930’s manly men.  Bringing the dialogue and characters into the far-flung future of egalitarianism, swear words, and the playful banter we’re all so enamored of that spilled into the big screen through Ghostbusters, Aliens, and Pulp Fiction was a challenge – and a risk. If we’re going to tell these stories in 2016, it’s a boon for us all that Campbell made the soil rich enough to grow such varieties.

We’re confident that – if you can get a seat – you’re going to experience something fast and suspenseful and that hopefully will make your skin crawl… up the wall and out through the ventilator system.

Keep watching my blog for updates and ticket sales!

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Labyrinth 2 DRAFT Screen Treatment

What do you do during Snowmageddon? Write a screen treatment for a sequel to your favorite childhood films. I say childhood, but really it’s still one of my favorites. Here’s my take on what the sequel to Labyrinth might be like.

Labyrinth 2 – DRAFT – Screen Treatment 1/23/2016 – Josh Kent

Toby, now in his forties, is just as much of a brat as ever, using his parent’s inheritance and renting his old home to a poor family who can’t makes ends meet. Sarah is writing her third novel about the Labyrinth and has become a famous writer. After many years in therapy (paid for by her parents) and a stay in an institution she was convinced that her experience in the Labyrinth was some kind of psychological break brought on by teenage stress. Sarah’s working on a new novel, but can’t find the inspiration and cannot write the end. Her boredom and frustrations bring on abusing prescription pills and drinking too much. She throws her manuscript into her fireplace and breaks a drinking glass against the fireplace. She throws her previous novels into the fire. “Why did this happen to me?”

Jareth’s kingdom mourns his death and is unaware of the pending doom as an army of Redcap Goblins from The ZigZag Mountains mount an assault to take over the Labyrinth. The Queen of the Goblins, Jemma, awakes from her dreaming slumber of 1,000 years just after Jareth dies. A massive funeral ceremony is held with Queen Jemma’s return and Jareth’s spirit is returned to the wilderness in an owl.  Discovering her dream kingdom in ruins and her people decrepit and under siege of the Redcaps, she has only 13 hours to stay awake before she sleeps for another 1,000 years.  In this time, she must rouse her sickly goblin kingdom to defend the Labyrinth against the Redcaps. It is useless, the Redcaps overrun the city and capture Jemma, the Queen of the Goblins. In jail, a tiny worm visits her and offers her tea and sympathy. She says that the kingdom is doomed.

“Really my lady, come now. Is there really no way at all we can get ourselves out of this mess? Come inside and see the Mrs. I’m sure we can think of something. Come in and have some supper?”

“What did you say?” The Queen asks suddenly remembering something important she’d not thought of for centuries.

“Come inside. Have some supper.”

“The scepter!” The Queen says. “Oh, thank you, little worm! But I can’t get out of this prison?”

“You’re just making excuses now. If you don’t want to come to supper…”

“No, no I would love to, but I’m locked in.”

“Locked in? What about that key?” The worm chastises her.

“What key?” She asks.

“Right there. Right there on the bar.”

To her surprise there is a key, made to look like part of the jail. She uses it to unlock the door. She runs off thanking him.

“Too good to eat with a worm I suppose. They’re all the same. Queens.” He says.

She sneaks through the Redcap Guard dressed as a Redcap and goes to Jareth’s memorial Oubliet and looks through his clothing and things, but the scepter is nowhere to be found. Someone has stolen it!

Hoggle, who is a Redcap himself, is terrified of the situation and hurries to gather his treasures together to go hide in the only place he knows no one will look for him, The Bog of Eternal Stench. As he hoards his treasures he comes across a large object wrapped in brown paper. He doesn’t recall what it is. He tears off the paper to reveal Sarah’s vanity mirror. He is upset by this and wraps it back up and stuffs it in his pack. With a huge pack on his back, he turns to leave his home, but when he turns Jemma, The Goblin Queen steps out from the shadows stands in front of him.

“Don’t do that!” He shouts at her. “He did that to me all the time and I hated it just the same.”

“Hognose,” she addresses him. He corrects her. “Yes, well, Hogpen. An item’s come missing in my kingdom and I’m wondering if you might know where it’s gotten off to.”

“An item? An item? Why, whatever do you mean? Hoggle would never take anything from the queen.”

“Among your things, do you happen to have… Jareth’s scepter?”

Hoggle really doesn’t have it. Suddenly, the walls break in and they are captured by the Redcaps. They are taken to the Redcap King, Hedgewhine, who now sits on Jareth’s throne. Standing beside him is a thin, dark creature named Glamus Ravening. Glamus Ravening tells the Queen that he knows her plan to restore the kingdom with the scepter, but that Jareth’s scepter is stolen from his burial Oubliet, destroyed and thrown into the Western Abyss. She becomes hopeless. They are both thrown into jail. Hedgewhine and the Redcaps sing a frightening song.

Sarah slams the laptop shut and throws a mini-tantrum shouting that she can’t finish it, she doesn’t know how to write the ending. She doesn’t know how to write, she might as well be dead. She starts to dial the phone, but stops, and then dials anyway. She fights with her brother, telling her how distraught she is and that she’s afraid she’ll hurt herself until he comes to see her.  He arrives a bit high. A huge fight ensues over what he does with their deceased parents money and ends with him berating her for wasting her life as an insane artist, at the end of his nerves, he mockingly shouts at her, “Oh, I wish the goblins would come and take you away right now!”

An old goblin woman disguised as a castle guard comes to feed the Queen of the Goblins in prison. “He did not destroy the scepter. It cannot be destroyed. It is infused with all of Jareth’s magic and it cannot be destroyed. He is an Obscurist, this Glamus Ravening. He is an enchanter, a maker of illusions, a beguiler. He’s hidden it somewhere. Somewhere in the The Labyrinth.”

Hoggle, in the next cell, asks the Queen what is special about the magical scepter. She tells him that if she holds it, it will transform her into a young Queen and that the scepter has the power to overcome the Redcap King, Hedgewhine, the Obscurist Glamus Ravening and will restore the kingdom.

“Why didn’t Jareth use it to save himself?”

“It can only be used once.  I realize now he was saving its power for me. So that I could stay young and so that I could live forever. He didn’t use it. He left it behind for us. But I have hardly any time left now. We’ll never find it in time.”

“How much time do we have?” Hoggle asks.

“Nine hours and thirteen minutes.” She replies, “Until I vanish, like my husband, like the King. Gone forever. My spirit in an owl, never again to meddle in the plans of men and goblins. Who can find anything in this place? Who can get through the Labyrinth on so little time?”

“Get through the Labyrinth. Get through the Labyrinth.” Hoggle says to himself.

Sarah leaves her brother in her apartment and runs into Central Park. It’s dusk and it starts to rain. As the rain falls harder and the park darkens, she begins to think she sees a white owl in the woods and follow it. As she follows it, it rains harder, but the owl becomes clearer until it seems certainly no longer a figment of her imagination. To her shock, her old vanity mirror from her bedroom sits up against the stone wall of a bridge in Central Park. The owl flies right into the mirror and disappears. As she comes closer, she notices a homeless man is resting near the mirror.

“Excuse me,” she asks, “Is this your mirror.”

“Course it’s my mirror. Whose else mirror would it be?” comes the gruff reply of Hoggle.

After a few more questions, she realizes who it is. They reunite warmly and he asks if she can come and help him find Jareth’s scepter. She argues with him that he is not real and that none of it is real. He tells her that it doesn’t matter if it’s real or not, all that matters is whether or not you want to save the Labyrinth and all of those who dwell in the Labyrinth. She agrees that she does and they both crawl into the mirror. Moments later her brother arrives looking for her. All he sees is the mirror, but he recognizes it after a bit and picks it up and continues looking for her. The mirror brings back memories for him of growing up with Sarah and good times with their parents.

Sarah returns to the Labyrinth. It is darker and in a state of decay. Since Jareth died, the whole place is crumbling and falling to pieces. The only thing that will restore it is if the scepter is returned to the Goblin Queen. Hoggle and Sarah begin their quest for the scepter. They find Ludo captured by a band of Redcaps and save him. Sir Didymus is in a remote location and Ambrosius has been breeding for many years and has a small army of his dogs.

Hedgewhine gets word from little spies that Sarah and Hoggle are searching for Glamus Ravening and the scepter. He sends the Redcaps to hunt them down.

Sarah uses her logic skills and puzzle solving to get through two traps that Glamus Ravening the Obscurist has left for her. The clock ticks down and the Queen of the Goblins gets weaker and weaker. Finally, they reach the Maddening Staircases which were part of Jareth’s labyrinth illusion. Glamus Ravening is here with the scepter. There is a great battle between Glamus and the Ambrosius Armies. Sir Dydimus is knocked unconscious and Glamus Ravening traps Hoggle inside of an illusion of never ending stairs.  Finally, Glamus Ravening and Sarah face off.

“You will never save your precious Labyrinth. It will crumble to dust and the Redcaps will build their empire from the broken pieces of your dreams.” Glamus says.

Suddenly, Toby appears. He has feathers in his mouth and hair, he looks muddy and scraped up and has burns on his clothing.

“Toby!”

Toby says, “Sarah! I came through! I found you!”

Sarah asks, “What happened to you?”

Toby smirks, “Ever heard of the Fire Gang?”

Sarah, “Yes. Yes I have.”

Toby pleads with her, “I should have believed you, Sarah. It’s unbelievable, but I should have believed you. This place is not in your head. I don’t know where we are, but we’re not in your head. This is no illusion.”

Sarah is inspired by her brother’s appearance and turns to the Obscurist, Glamus Ravening. Sarah says to Glamus Ravening “An illusion? Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, we have fought our way here to the castle beyond the Goblin City to take back… No. No. This is wrong. This is an illusion. You want us to believe that there has to be an end to all of this. That all of this must decay and fade away. You want us to believe that there is an end to the Goblin City and an end to the Labyrinth, but that is your greatest trick isn’t it? Your illusions of decay and the great lie of the end? That’s your most powerful spell isn’t it? It’s just as easy to break. You have no power over us!”

Glamus is clearly stunned by her revelation and she easily slips the scepter from his hand and holds it up and they all repeat to him. “You have no power over us!”

Glamus Ravening runs away in fear as the illusion of decay falls away from the Labyrinth and the sickness is lifted from the land.

Soon they are all back in Jareth’s throne room and Sarah hands Jemma, the Queen of the Goblins, Jareth’s scepter. When Jemma holds the scepter she is rejuvenated into a young woman. The rest of the goblins crowd the room and they all sing a song and dance.

Sarah is back in her apartment busy at her laptop. She call her brother. When he answers the phone, he is seen working with a hammer and sweating, renovating his parents’ old home.

Sarah is excited. “It’s almost finished.”

Toby says, “I can’t wait to read it! I hope it has a good ending.”

Sarah, “It has the best ending. It doesn’t end.”

She looks into the vanity mirror which she has set up beside her laptop. The young Queen Jemma of the Goblins, Ludo, Hoggle, and Sir Didymus wave back at her. As she waves an owl flies into her open window and lands on the desk. She regards it for a moment and they both seem to acknowledge each other. The owl flies off into the New York skyline.

THE END

JOSH KENT 2016

JENNIFER CONNELLY AS SARAH

JASON BATEMEN AS TOBY

CYNDI LAUPER AS THE 1,000 YEAR OLD GOBLIN QUEEN, JEMMA

GRIMES AS YOUNG GOBLIN QUEEN, JEMMA

TOM WAITS AS GLAMUS RAVENING, THE OBSCURIST

ANDY SERKIS AS HEDGEWHINE, THE REDCAP KING

***BASED ON CHARACTERS FROM LABYRINTH – NOT MY OWN – EXCEPT THE NAMES GLAMUS RAVENING AND HEDGEWHINE – FOR THE RECORD I DO NOT OWN ANY OF THE RIGHTS TO ANY OF THESE CHARACTERS OR NAMES AND THIS IS NOT ANYTHING BUT A FAN-FICTION THAT HOPES TO DRAW ATTENTION TO THE FILM, ACTORS, JIM HENSON, BRIAN FROUD, AND OTHERS I ADMIRE***

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