19
Sep
2004

Time Traveling Thespians

Now that the play is over, it’s time to spill all the beans.
Richard Garriott is a video game designer here in Austin. He designed the Ultima games, and many others. He’s a fairly well known celebrity around Austin and among video game fans. He is also known for his incredible themed parties he throws. Last night he threw a “Victorian Christmas in September” party. For this, he built a replica of The Globe Theatre on his property. For the inauguration of this theatre, we performed “A Christmas Carol”.
I was Bob Cratchit, and Jess was The Narrator, and The Ghost of Christmas Past. Jess also was the Scenic Designer, and she busted her ass since June designing and building (or acquiring in some cases) all the set and prop pieces with pretty much no help except for me and my cousin Casey, who we also roped into the production. I initially called my cousin to just be an extra in the background.
Since my cousin isn’t an actor, and has never been involved in theatre with the exception of things I’ve dragged him into, he told me that my call was possibly the strangest call he’d ever received, since it was basically, “Hey would you like to be in a play (a bit unusual) at Richard Garriott’s party (more unusual). It will be “A Christmas Carol” in September (more and more unusual).” He ended up playing the silent Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come, and a party-goer, and helped build the sets and such with Jess and I.
The play went phenomenally, and afterwards all the guests were taken down to the little fake village on the property where there were shops, a planetarium, an opium den, a toy shoppe, a brothel and other Victorian locales. Jess and I worked after the play tending the snow slope. Yes, you heard me right.
A while back Richard acquired a snow machine which was used at another party in the past, and this time they used it to create a snow slope for people to race sleds down, and such. Jess and I were hawkers giving out coins to the winners of races, and generally trying to get people to come play on the slope. Unfortunately, the ice slope was quite surrounded by a lot of mud due to the inevitable melting of ice in Texas in September. Remarkably the slope was still totally intact and all night long, and you couldn’t really detect any melting of it aside from the wet mud marshes surrounding it. I must say I was in top for as the master of the slope. My days working at the Texas Renaissance Festival as an actor had served me well.
At the end of the night there was a fireworks display. Real, class “c” fireworks like they use at professions displays. We all gathered in front of the wooden castle to watch the display. They fireworks were being set off on tables not more than 20 feet in front of us. We were warned that, as anyone who has attended Richard’s parties in the past, many times the fireworks display becomes interactive with the audience, or “full contact fireworks” as some called it.
Jess and I were sitting on a tarp right in the front as close as you could get to the tables. Indeed it was somewhat like being in a war simulation with debris and ash raining down from above, and occasional stray fireworks causing you to duck and cover. It was definitely and extreme sport, but quite fun.
A few highlights:
Jess and I had Victorian portraits taken in our costumes and they look pretty authentic.
The planetarium was cool. It was in a domed little room, with a projector that projected the night sky on the ceiling and walls, and the man controlling it was explaining constellations and then could overlay the pictures over the stars so you could see how they were supposed to be the things they were named. Most constellations are an extreme stretch to say the least, but then again constellations called “a crooked stick”, “old man’s cane”, or “bent rapier” wouldn’t be nearly as exciting.
There was aa brothel where you could pay a prostitute, and then they would take you into a room and give you a card telling you what happened like “You got the clap”, “broken member”, “you pulled a muscle”.
All in all it was very much fun, and having met Richard Garriott, I have to say I’m a fan. He is a very nice, fun and down to earth guy. A big kid with a lot of money, which is totally what I would be in his position. He’s always out at the site doing all this manual labor himself. Tinkering with this and that, and helping put up curtain rods, and lanterns. The man knows good video games and a fun party too. Thanks Richard.
The capper is that we all ended up getting paid a decent amount for our work in the play (and separately for our work at the party). Jess got a lot more money than we were expecting for her role as Scenic Designer (although, believe me, it was well earned). Consequently, we will be going to a party in L.A. in December. That’s about all I can think of at the moment, but I’m sure Jess will have more to say when she gets back from helping clean up the site today (I had to work so I couldn’t go).

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6 Responses

  1. Annika says:

    Yippee! It sounds really great. And thank goodness all the secrecy is over! I had read Jess’s blog before she edited out the title of the play, and was going nuts guessing what you guys were talking about each time it got mentioned. That Richard Garriott guy sounds crazy and I want to go to one of his parties.

  2. gill says:

    That all does indeed sound absolutely great!!! Well done to all of you and good luck in future thespian adventures!

  3. Simon says:

    That all sounds fantastic, especially the fireworks part – I’d love to get closer to fireworks! – and the play itself. Wow.

  4. CosmicAvatar says:

    Sounds absolutely great. I’m glad it all went well, and woo – extra money for partyage on top!

  5. All the world’s a stage

    I have finally regained enough mental energy to write about my adventures of the weekend. Heath has already written about it, so I’m going to add my impressions. Short version: fantastic! Long version. On Friday night was the preview. This…

  6. Min says:

    That sounds absolutely wonderful! I’m glad you were both able to be involved in something so enjoyable.
    And getting to go to LA as a bonus — score!

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