Theatre student Spencer Watson brings longtime vision to life with ‘Macabre’

The Southern Utah University Black Box Grant presented a workshopped presentation of the first act of “Macabre,” an original three-act play written by SUU student Spencer Watson. Presentations took place on Monday, Oct. 3 and Saturday, Oct. 8 in the Black Box Theatre, located in the Auditorium Building.

“Macabre” stars SUU students Whitney Black, Elise Thayn and Jessica Sannar in the story of an up-and-coming artist on the cusp of success.

“It follows [an artist’s] newest painting, which depicts disturbing and touchy subject matter, as it’s about to be produced,” said Watson. “The entire story is the artist and her two friends in an art gallery discussing whether or not this painting should be produced.”

Watson was inspired to write “Macabre” during his freshman year at SUU, when he read a play by writer Sarah Kane, who imfamously wrote very graphic and explicit theatre in the 90s.

“I remember thinking to myself, ‘What is the merit in this? What do we get from this?’ I wanted to write a story that asks that very question,” said Watson.

The idea to perform “Macabre” at SUU came from Black, who, along with Sannar and Thayn, were not cast in shows at SUU this semester. Black reached out to Watson to include him in the process, and he suggested that they perform his play. At the time of that discussion, Watson had written little to none of the script, but the collaboration gave him the perfect opportunity to put his ideas on paper.

“I’ve been hearing Spencer talk about this piece for, like, a year, at the very least. I’ve been very excited to see it on paper and on stage,” said Black.

Through the process of creating the piece, Watson and the actors were able to collaborate in a unique way to produce theatre in an environment that felt safe, especially given the heavy material.

“It was nice to be in a theatrical space where I can be like ‘This is a concern I have?’ or ‘This is a line that I think feels weird?’ or ‘This doesn’t sit right in my body’ and have a director and cast be willing to work with the comfortability of the space to make it safe so that we could do a show like this,” said Sannar.

“Macabre” is a piece that contains material that is not only dark and potentially triggering but also provides an opportunity for audiences to think and debate about the ideas presented.

“I never want to impose my perception onto other people,” said Watson. “Especially with this kind of theatre, it’s really important for people to perceive it however they perceive it and experience that however they’re going to experience it.”

Article by: Tessa Cheshire
Photos courtesy of Whitney Black