I am a Theatre Director, and I have a Smash-related idea.

Joined
Aug 18, 2018
Messages
1
#1
I am not sure this is the proper place on Smash Boards to share this, but I figure you all love Melee and can give me tips on how to move forward as a fellow Smash lover, but also as a director who wants to be as authentic to the story I want to tell as possible. I am a Toronto-based theatre director looking to mount a production this next coming festival season. Here is my pitch:

PLOT: I want to cover the Story of ISAI at the tournament The MOAST 3, where ISAI defied expectations to beat Ken in Grand Finals, and the special circumstances surrounding that tournament, including the central theme of how Isai's quiet and reserved attitude contrasted the "No Johns, hype" culture that existed at these tournaments, his character progression through the tournament leading up to the comeback story of a lifetime, and the fascinating level of commitment and athlete-level focus that many people outside Smash dont know about, and how it gave soft spoken people like Isai (and to a lesser extet myself. I found Isai's story inspiring because of my struggles with social anxiety, but this story isnt about me.) a way to be a powerful and accepted voice. I want to show be beauty of this game on stage in the story that captures my heart the most when i think about competitive Melee legends.

STRUCTURE: The structure of the play will be a Melee tournament, but I also want t to be interactive. The main characters will be famous players from Melee's tournament past played by actors, and the rest of the tournament bracket is filled out by audience members who get to choose if they want to also be involved in the tournament. Once consent is reached with these patrons, they will be given a name and role representing another famous smasher. Im thinking the tournament being 16 people, meaning the cast would be roughly 4 actors competing, 12 volunteers from the audiebnce each night, and 2 actors acting as the commentators of the tournament. The stage would be set up as a thrust where the audience sits on 3 sides in a cube, facing inwards to the center with 4 TV's in a cube with Center stage featuring the main TV where plot-important matches by actors will be played, and the screen of this TV will be projected in large on the back Upstage wall. Commentator performenrs will be sitting alost in the audience on one side to mimic the real thing, timing the mtched to keep the show within time, and moving the show from one transition to the next.

CHALLENGES (Advice would be great here):
1-I want Isai's consent, and i would be in a dream if I could sit down and interview him about this time in his life and get consent to do this idea. Otherwise, I will not do the play. I only seek to be respectful, and want to be as accurate to his personality and use as much verbatim as possible, because i find his story truly inspiring. I'll only do what he says he comfortable showing in my script.
2-i want to find out how the tournament was commentated accurately so i can be authentic. For example, maybe y'all can help me, did the Punch Crew show up at that tourney to document? I am young and got into Smash after that era.
3-I want to get the personalities of all the competitors right. again, authenticity, and am not sure how to go about that. I'm a little nervous, but very excited.
4-question- how much should I draw off juts that one tournament, or how many general trends from across smash Tournaments should I draw from. Should I seek to just replicate The MOAST 3, or a more general undeclaired Smash Tourney?

Give me all the thoughts you want to. I'm in theatre, so I'm used to rampant criticism, so be brutally honest if you feel this concept needs work. What would you like to see as we create this piece?
 
Joined
Jun 30, 2018
Messages
27
#2
Hey! Cool idea!

I admit that I am not deep into the competitive Smash scene and don't know the ins and outs of that tournament, but I am a thespian and have directed as well. Thus, my 'advice,' which comes with 'questions,' is primarily concerned with making Smash a theatrical experience.

Personally, I would caution against audience participation. While I like the idea, I think it creates more problems than it solves. It's nearly impossible to control audience members - the characters they choose, the words they say, and, most of all, their skill. Also, I wouldn't rely on finding actors who are great Melee players or Melee pros who can act. As a result, my assumption is that the matches between the actors will be highly choreographed and rigged to replicate the real story. You can't really do that with the audience and thus can't guarantee your actors who need to win actually do. Yes, you could tell the audience member to do or not do certain things, but that removes the point of having them, in my opinion. In my experience, if you instruct an audience member, then they are simply an unprepared actor and will be so focused on doing as you asked that they won't be watching and engaging in the production itself. In fact, I think that having any matches occurring on the sidelines during the play is a distraction. The side games will almost certainly draw focus from the main Isai-Ken games, and I doubt you want that. If you want to let audience members have open and "meaningless" matches in the half hour before the show, during intermission (if you have one), and after, and you are able to place and enforce rules on their play, then I think that works. You thus can add to the realism of the experience of a full tournament by surrounding the production itself with a faux audience tournament.

A second, related point is that I think you'll benefit from making the play less about Melee itself. Perhaps that is already your intention; I can't tell just from the plot description. As I read it, the story you want to tell is, of course, about Isai, and I bet you don't really need much Melee to do that. Have you seen the musical Chess? If not, I highly recommend you watch it. (A concert version is on YouTube in it's entirety.) If you don't already know, the show concerns three people (two players and a third person) during the events surrounding a fictional Russian-American chess tournament. The whole thing is intended to be much more about international relations and personal conflicts than the Game of Chess. In fact, the games are quite short, the audience hardly sees them, and other things usually happen simultaneously during them. The characters' personalities and relationships can't come through all too well while playing. So while you totally should have screens and show off gameplay, I would focus more on the people. You can still follow the real events, but just condense them down and hit the highlights.

Piggybacking off of that point and addressing your #3 and #4 Challenges, I think you should definitely expand beyond just that tournament. I think you can really go as far as to reflect the Smash Community as a whole. There are so many types of players besides just the "No Johns" and the "soft-spoken, committed athletes." Look at Smash now in the lead-up to Ultimate. There are the casuals, the Smash 4 mains, the Melee loyalists, those who are unsure about the new game but willing to take the chance, the nerds who aren't great players but could list every stat and reference, and the memers who crave Waluigi and Goku. Now granted, you wouldn't have exactly those dynamics, but the general attitudes of people have always been there. Heck! Have one person who insists on using the Ice Mountain stage competitively and then gets left out and ignored. My point is that you would certainly make the bulk of the show and the main events all from The MOAST 3, but the surrounding characters and events can be an amalgamation of Smashing. Depending on how you use those extra things, you may find they highlight the personalities and conflict surrounding Isai and Ken.

I hope that is of some help. Either way, feel free to keep asking questions. I'm quite interested in what you're doing and I'm happy to keep in touch on here or otherwise.

P.S. Having the commentators and using a thrust...yep. That's great. No comments or questions there.
 
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