by Chris Davis
Former Memphis actor (and one time Memphis Flyer HOTTIE) Randal Cooper took part in this unusual Nashville-based experiment which, most likely, will be back. In DVD form at the very least. Here's what he had to say about the project.
Intermission Impossible: You seem to have left Memphis and slipped right into the Nashville theater scene without missing a beat. Can you compare and contrast the two scenes?
Randal Cooper: When you're a stranger in town, it's nice to know that you can walk into any audition and instantly be among kindred spirits. Everyone here's been amazingly welcoming. At the same time, you can't swing a dead cat in this city without hitting someone who wants to be a star, so the competition can be pretty fierce. What Nashville doesn't have is facilities—there's nothing comparable to Theatre Memphis or Playhouse on the Square in town, and every company is making the best use of multipurpose or repurposed space that they can, which places certain limits on theatrical ambitions—folks seem loath to do shows that require a fly system, for instance.
Intermission Impossible: Tell me all about the strange thing you've been working on. And share a little of what you do in the show. Especially the licking part.
Randal Cooper: Terminator the Second is the brainchild of Cody de Vos and Marshall Weber (and James Cameron and William Shakespeare, I GUESS), who came up with the idea over a year ago when thinking of doing a production of Macbeth in a dive bar. The plot, characters, and situations are all from Terminator 2—Judgement Day, and the language is purloined from various other Shakespeare plays, with only verb tenses, proper names, and pronouns changed, so that when Sarah Conner gets fed up with her psychiatrist not believing her visions of the future, she can rant that "there are more things in heaven and earth, Doctor, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." The marriage of high-camp science fiction and Shakespeare is irresistible—to borrow from Shakespeare myself, a consummation devoutly to be wished, or as a friend put it at the premiere last night, "when nerds collide."
The project struck a nerve on the crowd-funding site Kickstarter back in April, when the creators raised over three times the $3,000 budget they were requesting for the show. People from all over the world contributed as little or as much as they could to make this thing happen.
I'm playing assorted roles in the show, the most notorious of which is the orderly at Pescadero State Mental Hospital who licks Sarah Conner while she's strapped to her bed and pretending to be catatonic, later receiving his much-deserved comeuppance. I don't think the scene would be quite as creepy if I'd been a cocker spaniel puppy, but I guess licking folks isn't as widely accepted in humans. I found out just the other day that the orderly's name in the film is Dougie, so apparently I go on to create a dance later in life.
Intermission Impossible: Is there an audience for Terminator Shakespeare? How are people responding?
Randal Cooper: Based on the audience response from opening night, this is a project that fills a need that people didn't know they had. The story of Terminator 2 is bringing folks into the show who might not otherwise come out to the theatre, and reaction so far has been ecstatic. Our first (and possibly only, given that we only run one weekend) was glowing, and what I've caught of audience response on social media sites has all been extremely positive, as well. I think the cast and crew are thrilled that folks are loving it as much as they do.
This production of T-The Second has passed but curiosity seekers can see some backstage video here.