Howl Theatre Project Presents Its First Production at Space 55 in Phoenix
"Out of your head and into your heart."
Howl Theatre Project Rehearsal image from "Monsters of the Sea (III): endofplay/7"
Throughout our interview with the members of Howl Theatre Project, it was this phrase that kept appearing. By their own admission, this was a bit of a clichéd phrase, particularly for a troupe with such experimental bonafides as theirs. But still, the phrase holds true in describing the methods, practices, and presentation brought to the table by the collective in their attempt to achieve a sort of universality in the new works they develop and perform.
From Friday, May 30 through Sunday, June 1, the newly formed theatre group presents the final weekend of its first production, Monsters of the Sea (III): endofplay/7, at Space 55 in downtown Phoenix. The play acts as the third installment in writer Chris Danowski's "Monsters of the Sea" series, and the first in the series to be presented in a public venue. Sound strange?
The seven-member troupe is filled out by Jake Jack Hylton, Jamie Haas Hendricks, Steven Matthew Kaas, Heather Lee Harper, Liana O'Boyle, and Beth May.
Those with a more keen eye on the Valley's theatre scene over the years might recognize Danowski's name under the moniker Theater in My Basement, his underground theater outfit which has presented original, avant-garde theater works in various literal living spaces for nearly a decade. However, following the production of "Monsters of the Sea (II)," Danowski and his cohorts felt the need for a change.
"We've been doing this work with Chris, and we all felt that it's really important, and we can't just keep doing it in Chris's living room for a total of 30 people to see it," notes Hendricks. "The stuff is just too good..."
"Deserves 50," quips Kass.
"And a backstage," continues Harper.
So, yes, it's all a little out of the ordinary. But for a group of actors, writers, and directors (all company members juggle multiple production duties) so entrenched in the experimental, the entire group could not be more excited to work together and share that work with the public.
"We found a really good energy among us," says Danowski in explaining the group's formation. "The threads of what we had [in Monsters of the Sea (II)] were the things that would start to carry us forward."
Though they all met and first worked together in various theatrical circumstances, there was a clear shared desire to produce something collaboratively among the troupe members, and in the process develop a new means of producing work.
"Creatively, we all find a line that we can walk on together and in that is finding people who are good at what they do that you can work alongside. . . and find one cohesive outlet," Hylton says of the experience of producing this work.