‘Living Dead in Denmark’ a new slice of theatre life for Tech
Even the most avid of Louisiana Tech theatergoers should experience something new when “Living Dead in Denmark” is staged April 7-10 in the Stone Theatre on the campus of Louisiana Tech. Curtain is 7:30 each night.
Written by Tech alum Qui Nguyen (’99), the play is an eclectic mix of Shakespeare, video games, comic books and sword fights.
“It’s mainly just a big comedy of killing zombies and doing kung fu,” said Nguyen, 32.
The El Dorado, Ark. native is downplaying his play, of course.
As “Denmark” did, his newest play, “Soul Samurai,” (right) has drawn favorable reviews and crowds in New York, where Nguyen now writes, choreographs and directs as a member of the award-winning Vampire Cowboys Theatre Company he helped form.
“The stuff we’re doing here in New York is new for New York; besides London, this is the leading place for theater,” he said. “So I’d say it’s definitely going to be something new for Ruston.”
In “Denmark,” several Shakespeare characters come back to life to fight for Denmark. While older audiences will readily recognize the Bard’s usual suspects, “all of a sudden, for a kid used to video games and movies, he’s seeing these characters in a post-apocalyptic world of zombies where everyone is fighting for their lives,” Nguyen said. “So you’ve got enough entertainment for both audiences.”
In his senior year at Louisiana Tech, Nguyen received the Tech Tony award as Best Actor for his performance in the role of Puck/Robin Goodfellow in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Ken Robbins, Nguyen’s teacher in several classes, felt after having instructed Nguyen in Fundamentals of Dramatic Writing that he would find success as a playwright.
“His drama, ‘Trial by Water,’ remains one of the most impressive new works I’ve read in a long, long time,” said Robbins, director of Louisiana Tech’s School of the Performing Arts.
“Qui’s work uses violence and sharply drawn character to explore the romantic stereotype,” said Tech professor Mark Guinn, who’ll direct ‘Denmark.’ “This production is filled with Shakespearian imagery, history, and innuendo that make it a rich and exciting, exploration of loss, love, and hope.
“Hollywood has thoroughly embraced the comic book as the folklore of our society and Qui has chosen to develop his own line of inquiry using the comic book stereotype,” Guinn said. “We have embraced his work and hope to provide the audience with a thoroughly enjoyable evening of theatre that communicates in comfortable recognizable stereotypes, action and more action, witty dialogue, strong language, and a good story.”
Robbins calls his former student an ‘in yer face’ type who can charm the shell off a turtle’s back. That attitude – plus passion and talent – made things in the Big Apple move fast for a kid who didn’t have great interest in the theater until he got to college.
“Not long after I got to New York I told a friend that I was finally in a place that was moving at the same speed as my ambitions,” said Nguyen. “If you move here just to move, New York can eat you alive pretty quickly. But if you know what you want and what you’re going to do, then it’s not that hard. If you have focus and determination and discipline, it’s a wonderful place.”
Written by Teddy Allen