Tom Laney: When did you first come up with the idea for Canterville?
Randall Rapstine: I first read the story when I was 9 years old (I ordered a book of ghost stories from Scholastic Book Club). It was my first encounter with the writing of Oscar Wilde. Through the years I've always wanted to see the story told in a theatrical setting. When I was introduced to devised theatre through TTU's summer WildWind Performance Lab, I began to imagine the story of Sir Simon and Virginia Otis in a new way. After seeing Punchdrunk Theatre's Sleep No More in New York, I decided to experiment with the story as the source material for a devised, site specific and immersive event.
TL: Is this end product what you imagined?
RR: It's more than I imagined. I have been so lucky to have an incredible team of artists collaborating with me to bring this production to life. Working with TTU School of Theatre and Dance alum Grayson Bradshaw and dance faculty member Kyla Olson has been one of the most positive creative experiences of my life. The designers are making such gorgeous magic happen and the company of actors have given themselves over to the challenges of physical theatre in a way that thrills me more than I can say. And I never could have imagined I would have encountered the woman we call our "Canterville Angel," Melissa Grimes. Her graciousness and kind sponsorship have allowed this production to be something unlike Lubbock audiences will have ever encountered.
TL: What are your feelings towards the devising process?
RR: I love it. It is freeing and completely collaborative. So many beautiful things develop from a company of artists who trust each other and are willing to play.
TL: How do you think the audience will react to the show?
RR: You know, I'm not sure. I hope they give themselves over to it. It's definitely not a traditional theatre experience. It asks you to participate by deciding who you want to track in the story. The setting, Melissa Grimes' home, is unlike any place they may have ever been. It's magical and beautiful. The production contains humor, there's beauty, there's music, there's horror. There's joy, love and redemption. It has infinite possibilities for entertainment and reflection.
TL: Do you feel Lubbock is the right community for this show?
RR: Most definitely. Immersive, site specific, devised theatre is a way to inspire conversation. The show contains ideas that are specifically geared toward this community. We created a hashtag for the show, #whatdidyousee. The idea is that audiences can leave the performance and compare notes on what each person encountered in their personal experience of the show. While doing so, they very well may engage in discussing ideas of gender, race, beauty and art. It's entertainment that's impressionistic and open-ended. It's a kind of grown-up entertainment for which Lubbock is definitely ready.
TL: What is your favorite ghost story?
RR: Honestly, I love a good Victorian ghost story. The Canterville Ghost and A Christmas Carol are two of my favorites.
TL: How do you feel as you finish up your time at Tech?
RR: I'm ready for new adventures. I've had such an amazing time in the TTU theatre program, and I've been given many extraordinary opportunities - such as directing this show. I'm eager to see what the next chapter of my life holds, after seven years in Lubbock obtaining my MFA and now the PhD.
TL: What are your plans for the future?
RR: I'll be putting myself out on the job market soon. I have a dissertation yet to write (the creative process and theoretical research behind Canterville are the basis for it). I tend to be the kind of guy who waits for the universe to give me my next cue. That attitude has led me thus far to a pretty fulfilling and exciting life. I don't know what's next, but I look forward to the adventure!