Sitting in on “Sandworms!” rehearsal (New Ideas Festival, Week Two)

Last night (March 2) I was invited by director Stacy Halloran to sit in on part of a rehearsal for D. J. Sylvis’ short play Sandworms!, which will premiere in Week Two – that’s March 18 – 22 – of Alumnae Theatre Company’s upcoming New Ideas Festival.  I was able to watch actors Michael Barkey and Julie Tesolin (who have been off-book for just over a week)  run through the script a couple of times, and listen to their notes from Stacy.  The funniest note was: “I think we should make those dead-muppet socks part of your costume.”   (Julie was wearing her own fuzzy bright blue slipper/socks.)

If you check out the synopsis for this play on our website, it’s brief and intriguing:

Two people. One apocalypse. And did we mention the sandworms? SANDWORMS!

Rehearsal photo from "Sandworms!" by D.J. Sylvis, directed by Stacy Halloran - New Ideas 2015, Week Two.  Michael Barkey (L) as Marc;  Julie Tesolin as Carrie.  Photo:  Ryan McLean.

Rehearsal photo from “Sandworms!” by D.J. Sylvis, directed by Stacy Halloran – New Ideas 2015, Week Two. Michael Barkey (L) as Marc; Julie Tesolin as Carrie. Photo: Ryan McLean.

Stacy expands somewhat:  “The play references horror movies. Those horror movies are the amusing kind, the ones that point out the catastrophic effects of humanity on nature, or other humanity. D.J. Sylvis has taken an intense personal situation and contextualized the subtext. The characters certainly don’t come from central casting! But we have enjoyed playing in their geeky ‘dweam’ world, and reflecting on our own.”

Currently running at just a hair over 10 minutes (“I played the full sound cue that time,” explains stage manager and sound designer Ryan McLean.  “So that’s probably the extra 3 seconds.”), Stacy figures it will be about 9 and a half minutes in performance, not including pauses for audience reaction.
And that sound cue.  Described in the script as “a grinding noise”, Ryan created it by combining industrial sounds with nature, and adding effects and distortion.

Sandworms! manages to be both funny  and touching, while throwing in a few four-letter words.  My favourite line:  “I see that ‘fuck’ and I raise you a ‘motherfucker’”.    Couldn’t help it, I laughed.  Maybe snorted.

Playwright D.J. Sylvis is known for his work with Monkeyman Productions (, and has also had scripts produced in three previous New Ideas Festivals:  Godzilla on Sundays (2008), Chance (2009), and An Inked Heart (2010).  As the playwright-in-residence for the self-described “geekiest theatre company in Toronto”, it’s only natural that Sandworms! contains references to, and quotes from, such twisted little horror films as Beetlejuice and Tremors.

There’s not much else I am permitted to divulge, except that the play includes a prop designed and manufactured by David Peebles of Daedalus Marine & Salvage.  Under pain of, well, pain, I am not allowed to provide any more details.


Come see Sandworms! and the other 4 short plays in Week Two of New Ideas:  The Festival kicks off on March 11.  Tickets are $15 per week – each week boasts a different lineup, and every play is a world premiere – or $40 for a Festival Pass.   Purchase online, or e-mail to reserve seats, then pay cash at the door.



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Filed under 2014/15 Season, New Ideas Festival 2015

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