Creating their own opportunity: Local teens produce ‘Funkytastical’ theater
Special to Prospector
KNOW & GO
WHO: Tea & Cordite Theater
WHAT: The galactic premiere of “The Funkytastical Space Mystery”
WHERE: Nevada City Veteran’s Memorial Hall, 415 North Pine Street, Nevada City
WHEN: 7 p.m. Wednesdays, 2 and 7 p.m. Saturdays and at 2 p.m. Sundays through Oct. 14
INFO: Visit teacordite.blogspot.com or call 619-890-4333 for more information
Nevada County teens find ways to be successful. Sloane Morton and his troupe of endeavoring artists are no exception. The team of creative and fearless personalities is presenting an original play; written, produced and directed by a small group of ambitious teens.
The play, “The Funkytastical Space Mystery,” opens this week at the Nevada City Veterans Hall.
It was written and directed by Morton, 19, a Sierra College student, and includes 10 local friends, ages 14-19. The play has been in the works for over a year.
Last summer Morton and a handful of peers, all with some sort of theater background, began kicking around the idea of creating their own theater group after a dance at the Oddfellows Hall. He began to work on a script quite simply because he was “bored,” a motivation which he says spurs most of his projects.
Sci-fi murder mystery
Through a collaborative effort, the premise became a murder mystery, with music, but not a musical. They decided genre was funk, though Morton had little background or knowledge of specific tunes. They then decided the setting should be sci-fi, with definite “Star Trek” influences and references.
After continuous rewrites, hours of rehearsal and unwavering support from friends and family, “The Funkytastical Space Mystery” hits the stage this week.
According to Morton, it’s a wild ride, jam-packed with references and groovy lingo, pulsing to the beat of an original soundtrack, and set in a bizarre world of light speed, lemmings and lysergic acid. The show features Ezra Abernathy, Mia Belluomini, Isaac Biggs, Paige Cartzdafner, Sydnie Crumrine, Jake Lawson, Gaibrial Morton, Rumi Petersen and Gyana Roberts.
Most of the actors have worked together on various local theater productions and hold various jobs and responsibilities on the current project. The hard work and dedication are worth it, as the teens get to play colorful characters in a story they themselves helped create.
“One of the things that I’ve liked most about this show is getting to play a character that is a character,” Abernathy, who plays Lieutenant Zoltor Morris, said. “I’ve done that a few times before, but not very often. I really love getting to play somebody who’s very different from all the other people in the world.
“A character who talks or walks differently, or has a special voice, or behaves unusually. What’s great about this show is that all of the characters are like that; they’re all unique, and they’re all a bit weird (to put it lightly).”
“I’ve been in the cast from the beginning,” Cartzdafner said. “It’s been an awesome experience. I love the funk portion of the show, it’s so fun being able to have outrageous characters. The funk is what makes it so different. My character, Commander Danny MacDougal, is not the most funky of the characters but it’s fun to see everyone getting into the groove.”
A family production
Anna Morton, Sloane’s mom, is producing the play. The family has a strong theater background, with Sloane’s younger brother Gaibrial also taking the stage (Doctor Robert Unblickmancross).
Anna said the entire production came about naturally. She had always homeschooled the boys and believes it’s been building as they’ve been growing and becoming more independent with their projects.
“It’s a natural progression of our family’s dynamic creativity,” she said.
Anna has a degree in theater and art, which she says made supporting her kids easy. All of the parents involved have stepped up, from spearheading marketing and securing facilities and insurance to building sets and overseeing sound.
“We wanted the creative process to start at the grass roots level,” Anna said. “Homegrown is what (Sloane) calls it.”
Homegrown Film and Theater became the tagline for the group, which Morton coined Tea & Cordite.
Tea, because it is warm and calming and cordite, which is a smokeless gunpowder. He notes they both smell great and are common components in works he’s previously written.
The group strives to bring strange and wonderful films and plays to life. They recently finished making “The Kommissar,” a short film about coffee, philosophy and nuclear war, for Nevada County Television’s Thru The Lens film festival.
Morton is also already working on his next play, which is probably going to be a romance, because it’s something he’s never written about. He also plans to have open auditions.
Morton’s goal is to provide new roles and opportunities for the regional theater community. And while he notes there are gaps in roles for certain age groups, he doesn’t want to limit anyone from taking part in his productions.
“I think ultimately the goal is to create something fun, and that matters to people,” Morton said. “I don’t know that I’ve managed that yet, but it’s changed my life for that past year and a half.”
Katrina Paz is a freelance writer for Prospector and is a resident of Grass Valley.
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