Annex’s Marketing Coordinator Emily Sershon sat down this week with ACME Playwright Andrew Shanks to find out more about ACME:
EMILY SERSHON: Hey Andrew! You wrote ACME! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
ANDREW SHANKS: Hey-O! I’m a writer and performer working here in Seattle. As a writer, you may have seen my work at Bumbershoot, Spin the Bottle, Pocket Theater, or more recently at Panel Jumper Live: Chapter IV. As an actor, I’ve recently had the great pleasure to work with Theater Schmeater, Sound Theatre Company, and Forward Flux Productions. You can also see me in the local webseries Northern Belles.
ES: And you’re our Company Manager!
AS: Yes I am! Viva Annex!
ES: Annex the world! What prompted you to write ACME? How is ACME similar to your other writing? Different?
AS: ACME has been percolating under the surface for a while. Elements came together over the years whether it was a writing exercise or a one-off performance (usually involving my overall fascination with nefarious organizations and a certain cartoon coyote). The real spark came when I started working for a tech service company a couple years ago. It was the perfect setting for a large ensemble-based satire about the inner workings of the tech industry. ACME is definitely the most ambitious show I’ve ever written.
ES: Well, it’s a big cast! Just knowing it’s a corporate tech-industry satire, I cannot wait to see the characters. What kinds of people do we meet inside ACME? Is there one specifically that you identify with?
AS: ACME’s got a little bit of everything! An eccentric CEO, an omnipresent H.R. representative, security guards with strange dietary habits, tech-bros, scientists in fear of being terminated at a moment’s notice, a gonzo journalist with a score to settle, and an intern with hidden connections to ACME’s sordid past. There’re plenty more cogs in the machine but what I love most about these characters is that, while they live in this ominous sinister world, they all seem pretty naive about it. It’s kind of like that one henchman in the Bond movies who questions whether he works for the bad guy or not: Dude, you work in a lair carved out of a volcano, what do you think?
AS: As far as identifying with one character specifically — definitely Jules, our intern in the show, wonderfully played by Nabilah Ahmed. I think we can all identify with feeling overwhelmed by situations we’re thrust into unexpectedly while still trying to keep a level head about it — except at ACME, you might literally lose your head. You have got to read those Terms and Conditions, people! I will say that director Mary Hubert has assembled one hell of a cast here. I’m in awe of how much commitment they have for creating this weird weird world.
ES: Yeah, I’m really enjoying seeing the cast and the science-gone-amok unfolding on Instagram. Can I just say your design team is killing it?
AS: Seriously. I’m in awe. You will believe that portals to another dimension exist.
ES: Apart from your experience in the tech industry, what are the artistic influences for ACME? It’s got a pretty unique aesthetic, hasn’t it?
AS: I tend to wear my influences on my sleeve at times; I’m sure you’ll be able to spot a few as you watch the show. The goal was always to create two very different worlds and smash them together. What happens when one bleeds into the other? I’d say what those worlds are but, much like company itself, there’s a lot of mystery in ACME. I like setting up these little puzzle boxes for audience members to get lost in. If they’re in for the journey, I think ACME will take them to unique places to get answers.
ES: So mysterious! I guess people will just have to come see it. Is there anything else you want folks to know before they come?
AS: Basically this show is an adaptation of “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie” but instead of a cookie it’s a ray-gun.
ES: Haha, awesome! Thanks Andrew. I can’t wait.
AS: Thank you! Science!
ACME runs April 28 – May 20 2017
Thursday-Saturday at 7:30 pm