There's a new sheriff in charge of Horror Theatre in this town and her name is Aly Renee Amidei. She was recently appointed Artistic Director of Wildclaw Theatre Company.We had a chance to catch up with her after a long night and 8 whole racks of ribs.
Aly! So great to see you! Do you want to share these ribs with us for breakfast?
No thanks, I don’t eat meat from the bone...for breakfast.
Well, whatever. I mean, it’s a little disrespectful, but not the end of the world. So, what have you been up to lately?
Well, WildClaw Theatre just closed it’s most successful play ever, Carmilla.
I saw that!
Now if I’m not mistaken, you adapted it into a play also. Is that right?
Yes. I had been mildly obsessed with the play since I was a teenager. WildClaw’s artistic director, Charley Sherman, was encouraging company members to write. So I took up the challenge and we wrote a proposal for the DCA space. We got picked...meaning, the City of Chicago called my bluff and I had no choice but to write it.
Now you say you were into it in high school... was that because you wanted to be taken away by an older, toothier, lesbian stranger?
I am not so sure I was that aware of the lesbian angle when I was 13...all I knew then was that it had vamps and girls. I REALLY liked vampires as a girl. But...now that I think about it I also REALLY liked The Hunger...which had older toothier lesbian vampires. Hmmm.
Well thank you for confirming my theory that all 13 year olds are lesbians. So now that was such a success for your young company, you have decided to take over the reigns as Artistic Director?
Well the company decided...I didn’t just roll in and punch Sherman in the groin. But yes, I will be the new artistic director starting in May. I am very excited. A bit woozy but excited.
I think you are a great choice, and let me tell you why. You, as a costume and set designer, have been involved in hundreds of productions, and know how to deal with that side, and also, you know more about the genre than almost anybody alive. Which in turn makes you super hot and also a little bit gross.
That is an amazing compliment. Thanks.
So, you are a member of some other organizations too, correct?
Yes. I have been at Strawdog for more than five years now...doing costumes, makeup, and a set. Plus writing for the Hit Factory. I recently was the makeup designer for The Master and Margarita.
So what have you learned from being under 2 different Artistic Directors that you can bring to your new job?
Nic (Dimond, Artistic Director at Strawdog) and Charley (Sherman, WildClaw) are super different. I mean there are the obvious differences...but both are passionate about the mission of these two companies. Nic really helped us with the ‘Whole Wide World in a Little Black Box’ concept: immersion, genuine human connections, etc...It looks good on paper...but also works when you are trying to make art. With WildClaw, the mission is putting horror on stage and taking it seriously. Sounds simple right? But it is deceptively tricky. Finding horror to actually put on the stage has been the biggest challenge. There is just not a lot of it out there that fits our mission. We will not being doing Little Shop or Rocky Horror. So we either need to write it ourselves or inspire the horror lovers of the world to write some awesome spooky theatre for us. We want horror to be infectious. And for that infection to spread...whoa...sorry this is getting weird.
Speaking of weird, I have been working on an adaptation of a dream I had that I think you guys might really like. It starts out with this Indian guy getting eaten by rats and birds and then he brings his half-ate ass to America and gets a job at a factory where he falls in love with this centaur but it turns out that it’s really a centaur ghost.
You had me at centaur.
So what’s up next for WildClaw?
Oh how I wish I knew. We definitely have Deathscribe coming up in December. This is our annual radio play festival. We will be opening up for submissions soon. But our next stage play is still being decided. We have a bunch of play readings scheduled and everyone is writing frantically.
Well we are so excited to see what the future holds. You guys are really getting at a market that hasn’t existed before.
Yeah and what is super cool is seeing people in the theatre that had never been to a live play before. And even better, is some of our horror audience is actually going to see more theatre....not just us
Well maybe next time you could talk to us more about some lesbian stuff.
Definitely. I am working on a play where a young girl is seduced by an older woman..but it turns out she is a werewolf....
Then it’s good you are a costume designer, so you can design your own merkins. Werewolf pubes are hard to read on stage.
My entire career has been leading towards that very goal.
-Anderson Lawfer, Eric Roach