Deathscribe 2016: A Few Words with Jessica Mondres

WildClaw Theatre Company proudly presents Deathscribe 2016, the Ninth Annual International Festival of Radio Horror Plays on Monday, December 5th, at 8:00pm. This collection of bone-chilling audio nightmares will be performed live at Deathscribe’s NEW VENUE, Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln Ave, Chicago.

CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS!

The Woman Below

By Daniel Dauphin
Directed by Jessica Mondres
Featuring Mari Marroquin, Rob Koon, and Pamela Maurer

Alice McKellan of the salvage ship Trident found something spectacular at the bottom of the ocean that could change history and make them all very very rich indeed. Why, oh why, did she bring it on board?

Jessica Mondres is an interdisciplinary theater artist with a background in performance and a focus on prop/puppet design, directing, puppetry, and installation/video art. Recent design credits include work at Red Orchid, Victory Gardens, Cock and Bull, Strawdog, and 16th Street Theater’s season 9 productions of Yasmina’s Necklace, Book Club Play, and Carroll Gardens. She also directed and performed in 16th Street’s remount of Mariposa Nocturna; for which she designed an immersive lobby installation and created a short stop-motion film. She is the co-founder of Portmanteau, a new experimental object based performance project, and a proud 16th Street Theater Associate Artist. Up next is prop design for Iolanthe at Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company and development of Portmanteau’s new piece, T(w)o Marias, with the support of a DCASE In the works residency.

Recently WildClaw’s resident Queen of Cacophony Ele Matelan transfixed the directors of Deathscribe 2016 with her withering glare. Below are some of the answers she exorcised from Jessica Mondres:

What do you consider the biggest challenge in directing for “radio,” compared to traditional theatre?

A lot of my directing experience has been rooted in dance or movement based performance, sometimes in dumb show, where visual story telling takes precedence over narrative. So it will be a fun challenge to switch that up and really focus on layering Ele’s amazing foley effects, the music, and the voices of our talented cast to aurally paint pictures in people’s minds that (hopefully) scare them silly. Danny’s script has this wonderfully creeping psychological dread built into it and I’m looking forward to bringing it to life in the imagination of the audience and creating a strong sense of being there with the characters as they go through this nightmare.

What sound would you most like to see/hear performed in a Deathscribe piece?

This is a really good but hard to answer question, because I’m excited about so many of them. I can think of a number of especially fun ones in Danny’s script I’m really looking forward to hearing, but maybe it’s spoilers to tell you what they are right now. I’m going to have to go with any sound created through the destruction of vegetables. It’s such a classic foley effect, and so theatrical too. I imagine it must be really satisfying, for example, to just destroy a cabbage on stage.

What scares you?

I used to have really vivid, recurring nightmares about bears. I haven’t had one in a long time, but bears still scare the shit out of me. Something about them just seems so alien and terrifying. You know that Werner Herzog documentary Grizzly Man? Herzog says when he looks at the bears he sees “no kinship, no understanding, no mercy… only the overwhelming indifference of nature.” He might as well have been reading from my dream journal. The Teddy Bear is a lie.

What was the first horror story to really, really mess with your head?

When I was a kid, I was seriously traumatized by the third vignette in the Stephen King movie Cat’s Eye, which I saw on television. In the movie an evil troll moves into a little girl’s house, stabs her pet parakeet to death, and then tries to steal her breath. Her pet cat ultimately saves her from the evil troll.

I did not have a pet cat.

Naturally, I spent years convinced that there was also an evil troll living in my walls who wanted to kill me in my sleep. I had all these elaborate bedtime rituals to keep myself safe from the troll. I’d invent rules for how to stay safe, like if I had my doll Abigail in bed with me they couldn’t get me. If I followed the rules I would be ok. But I had to make three new rules every night and then recite all the old rules too. I knew if I didn’t follow every single rule the troll would get me, so I couldn’t afford to forget any of them.

After years of doing this you can imagine that it got a bit ridiculous. By the end the evil troll was suspended in a steel prison in my ceiling with laser beams, and he had gotten pretty stupid and easy to fool. There was even a good troll who had moved into the walls to help me out. Because I still didn’t have a cat.

I am too embarrassed to tell you how old I was when I finally stopped doing all of this.

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