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College of Arts & Sciences
Department of Theatre and Dance

Player King | April 23-26 | Lab Theatre

English major Ryan Stevens' original comedy, written in the style of Shakespearean verse, plays at the Lab Theatre April 23-26.

The UofSC Department of Theatre and Dance

Player King:
A Play In (And Out Of) Verse

Written and Directed by
Ryan Stevens

April 23-26, 2015

Lab Theatre
1400 Wheat St.

Show Times:
8pm nightly

$5 at the door

Writer/Director Ryan Stevens (standing, center) with the cast of Player King.  Photo by Alexandra Herstik.

Ryan Stevens’ original play, written (mostly) in the style of Shakespearean verse, centers on a theatre company working on an incoming production of Hamlet. When an egotistical actor is snubbed for the titular part, he takes matters into his own hands to manipulate his fellow actors and superiors. Simultaneously, two quick-mouthed set designers, smelling chicanery in the works, set out to establish themselves as the chief architects of whimsy in the theater and maintain order, or at least their version of it.

Although Player King is Stevens’ first full-length produced work, the senior English major says his interest in writing for the theatre goes back to childhood.    “I have been interested in the theater since a young age,” he says. “I always wanted to be a writer and writing plays feels the most natural to me. Plays are all about the characters and their actions and how they respond. I really get to focus on people’s individual voices, which is what draws me to telling stories in the first place.” 

While a student at the University, Stevens has been active as a writer and performer in the sketch comedy and improv troupes Toast and The OverReactors, which he co-founded.  He appeared in the Lab Theatre production of August Snow in October, 2012.

When approaching the script for Player King, Stevens says he felt compelled by the challenge of writing in Shakespearean verse to experiment with using heightened language in a contemporary setting.

“The joke about Shakespeare is that his writing is hard to understand or sit through, yet we still quote it constantly in our society.  With Player King, I am adopting that writing style in a modern way for a modern audience.”

Appearing in the production are undergraduate students Megh Ahire, Jamie Boller, Carrie Chalfant, Ashley Graham, Jasmine James, Jon Whit McClinton, Abi McNeely, William Quant, Cami Reid, Rebecca Shrom, Brooke Smith and Vic Whitten.  Stevens’ production crew includes stage manager/lighting designer Megan Branham, assistant stage managers Kat LeeHong and Sallie Sargent, scenic designer Zoe Fulton, and sound designer Nick Ducko.

Ultimately, Stevens says he intends for Player King to be a sincere homage to “The Bard” that doesn’t take itself too seriously.  

“It definitely comes from a place of love and respect for the theatre, for actors and for Shakespeare,” he says.  “Every character in this play is looking for joy or fulfillment through the art of theatre itself.  This play is really all about the nobility and rewards that come when a group of people get together and devote themselves to putting on a show.”