A Post on the
A POST ON THE PRAIRIE
A World Premiere by Ryan Gage
Directed by Patrick Wilson
October 2-4*, 9-11*, 16-17 in
the Black Box
Author’s note: “In a world where societies
have evaporated, civilizations have disappeared and
relationships are the toughest resource to find, two men of
opposite backgrounds discover each other on a deserted prairie
in Montana. Striving to survive in a harsh, brutal world, the
men are forced to search within themselves to find what it takes
for life to continue.”
Cowboy – Patrick Wilson
Man – Carl Redman
Director – Patrick Wilson
Stage Manager – Kirsten Horn Pett
Lighting Design – Nathan Blanding
Sound/Light Operator – Matt
Sound Operator – James Bowling
Fight Choreographer –
Post-apocalyptic drama ‘A Post on the Prairie’ opens Friday at
By Jaci Webb
(HANNAH POTES/Gazette Staff) Local playwright Ryan Gage’s “A Post on
the Prairie,” has expanded from its early one-act incarnation into a
full 90-minute play in two acts. The post-apocalyptic drama
featuring Patrick Wilson, left, and Carl Redman comes to NOVA’s
Black Box on Friday.
An interview with screenwriter Ryan Gage had
barely started when costume designer Gary Treglown jumped in, “You
need to use the word genius at some point.”
The cast and crew
behind the new work, “A Post on the Prairie,” are anxious for the
debut Friday night at the Black Box at NOVA Center for the
Performing Arts because it has been a group effort. Gage has revised
the script over the past three years, working with members of the
local theater community to turn a one-act version into a two-act,
Patrick Wilson doubles as director and
co-lead in the play. He plays Cowboy and Carl Redman plays Man.
Billings actors Sean Bettise and Jayme Green were the first to bring
these characters to life in a staged reading three years ago when it
was still a one-act. Gage remembers the positive response he got
from the audience.
“All the way out the door, people were
asking me, ‘What happens next?'” Gage said.
So Gage wrote
what happens next.
What the audience will see onstage come
Friday is the fourth draft of Gage’s script. By day, Gage is a
history teacher at Senior High, so working the script was reserved
for evenings and weekends in between helping his wife, Liz, care for
their 8-month-old son, Montgomery Thomas.
The drama is a
post-apocalyptic tale of two survivors.
“It’s all about why
we’re being tested,” Gage said. “It’s about the human spirit looking
at how we keep the human race going and how we learn to be human
There are moments of humor, but primarily “A Post on
the Prairie” depicts two desperate men in a volatile environment at
the end of the world.
The process of re-working the script
through the Go! Workshop was invaluable to Gage. Wilson, who
co-founded Go! with Shad Scott, was instrumental in getting the
production ready to be performed at NOVA. It will be presented three
weekends, running through Oct. 17. For tickets or show times,
contact NOVA at 591-9535.
New play: A sense of place in a post-apocalyptic world
By: ED KEMMICK
“A Post on the Prairie,” a new piece by
Billings playwright Ryan Gage, was inspired by a setting and by
Gage’s love of post-apocalyptic fiction.
The play takes place
around a campfire, just as Gage’s first one-act play did when he
wrote it eight years ago.
“Part of me always wanted to return
to that,” he said, “but with something bigger.”
something was supplied by the post-apocalyptic context, based on his
admiration of Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road,” and “The Walking Dead,”
the graphic novels that became a hit television series.
However, Gage warned “Walking Dead” fans that “there are no zombies.
Anyone coming for zombies will be sorely disappointed.”
play involves just two people, identified only as The Cowboy and
Man, who come to share a fire pit in the wake of an unnamed
catastrophe. The Cowboy has already been there a long time,
comfortably alone, when Man shows up, and the play revolves around
the tension of their relationship.
“It’s almost a very
mystical scenario about these two guys linked to this object, this
fire pit,” Gage said. And like all good post-apocalyptic stories, he
said, “it lets us investigate who we are in the here and now by
examining the what if.”
Gage, a Billings native who teaches
government at Billings Senior High, from which he graduated in 1996,
has written one-acts and two full-length plays before, but he says
this is his most ambitious work, and certainly the one to which he
has devoted the most time.
“A Post on the Prairie” will
premiere at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 2, in the Black Box theater at
NOVA Center for the Performing Arts, 2317 Montana Ave.
directed by Patrick Wilson, the co-founder of Sacrifice Cliff
Theatre Company, who also plays The Cowboy. Carl Redman plays Man.
Gage said he had the idea for the play four or five years ago,
and three years ago, with just one scene written, local actors Shawn
Bettise and Jayme Green did a reading of it at “Go,” a Sacrifice
cliff workshop for writers. The audience of 15 or 20 people was
enthusiastic and wanted to hear more, but Gage admitted that the
scene was all he had at that point.
After another year’s work
he came back with a full play, which was read again by Bettise and
Green, and again it was well received. At that point Gage gave the
play to some writer friends, and with their detailed critiques in
hand he spent another year revising it.
After it was
submitted to NOVA and accepted, Wilson signed on as director, and he
and Gage have been working closely on the play for half a year.
Wilson said he was drawn to the play because he likes homegrown
art and he likes the Montana attitude that pervades “A Post on the
“It’s uniquely Montanan and yet it doesn’t come out
and say it,” Wilson said. “It doesn’t need to.”
Montanans, Wilson said, “place is a part of our identity,” and
Gage’s play is very much about a sense of place, of being connected
to a landscape. It’s been a “huge challenge” to direct the play and
then be one of only two actors, Wilson said, but he has high hopes
for the piece.
The challenge was making the audience care a
great deal about these two men without a lot of exposition or
background, and Wilson thinks Gage managed to do that.
said the play explores an idea that is at the heart of “The Walking
Dead”—how “there’s so little trust anymore when everything goes
wrong.” On top of that, Gage said, both characters “have unfinished
business from before everything went bad.”
He said the play,
though it has only two characters, includes comedy, drama, mystery
and suspense, and it is full of references to music, literature and
pop culture. .
At bottom, he said, it is about people “who
have to relearn who and how to trust again. The longer you walk the
world alone, the harder it is to open the door to other people.”
The play will run Oct. 2-4, 9-11 and 16-17, with show times at
7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday. Go to NOVA
for more details.