“Mission Selvaggio” is a play that will not only capture your mind, but may even bring out your imaginative state and creative ability.
Cole Wagner, senior theater major, wrote the script as a part of his senior project. Wagner is also co-producing the project alongside Theater Technical Director Alan Tollefson and Professor of Theater Arts David Flaten, who are both overseeing the project as well.
“‘Mission Selvaggio’ is about a visual artist who wants to create a world, but he cannot find the inspiration for it,” Wagner said. “He digs out an old drawing of a character that he created three years ago, and the character actually crawls out of the paper and he emerges to life and helps the artist realize the world he came from.”
There was a Rock painting to promote the play on Monday and a preview showing of the play on Wednesday.
The play, filled with many characters, continues to evolve and becomes more complex as each diverse character enters into the story.
“Everything in the play is a test for the artists to see what is reality and what is inside of his head,” Wagner said. “With the fiction that we come up with in our head, is it something that we entirely create, or is it something that we find by means of a spiritual connection?”
The play is comprised of a cast of seven characters, each with unique personalities who are from vastly different origins.
Wagner headlines the play as the Artist who creates these characters and brings them to life in the fictional world.
One of the lead characters, Selvaggio, played by senior theater major Daniel Ramirez, is an Italian American from the Bronx.
Sottile, Selvaggio’s sidekick played by junior theater major Alex Freitas, is from India and has four arms.
With so many unique and creative elements throughout the play, Wagner needed somebody that he could trust as his right-hand man to direct the play for him – junior theater arts major Cody Goss.
“I went for a more literal approach while writing the script, and Cody went for a more metaphorical approach, which I think is more than appropriate,” Wagner said.
Goss had several jobs of executing various parts of the play.
“My job is to accentuate the moments that make the characters more real and more present in the play and visualizing where these characters are coming from off the stage —where they are going and how they move,” Goss said.
The play is truly a collaborative process with many great minds that want to work together to create art.
“One of the main points of the play is not to create, but to find what’s inside of you. I really hope that the audience walks away with the feeling of how creative they can be,” said Bretten James, senior psychology major and ‘Selvaggio’ stage manager.
Wagner wants to use art as a way to show the community to be more attentive to its natural surroundings.
“There are certain allusions to nature throughout the play as well,” Wagner said. “The more nature you see, the more inspired you become.”
Wagner, a filmmaker, was inspired during his freshman year after reading the play “Six Characters in Search of an Author,” written by Luigi Pirandello in the 1920s.
“It is about a theater company that finds a group of people, and the people themselves deem themselves to be characters and they want the theater company to perform their story,” Wagner said.
The inspiration prompted Wagner to write a screenplay two years ago, “House on Stolen Earth.”
It was a horror/fantasy musical with rock elements and had a much more complex plot involving the characters. Wagner cut down the screenplay from a five-hour epic movie into a quick play.
“Mission Salvaggio,” is similarities to “House on Stolen Earth.”
“The characters in the script for the play were the same characters that I developed from the screenplay,” Wagner said.
“I hope that the audience sees that creation is good and that imagining and making art is what drives and brings people together,” Goss said. “I want the audience to know that they can make and create art and drive their passion to make them become a better person and they can show it off to the world.”
The play will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday in the Jane Dibbell Cabaret. Admission is free.
“I hope (the audience) is satisfied with what they see and that they receive a message that will resonate with them,” Wagner said.
Hal Hargrave can be reached at email@example.com.