In 2019, Texas Tech University presented Mr. Rapstine's Canterville, an immersive haunted house/theatrical event hybrid inspired by Oscar Wilde's classic ghost story The Canterville Ghost. The first production of it's type in the 50-year history of The School of Theatre & Dance, Canterville featured a diverse cast of 20+ performers, and was staged in and around an art-filled home in the Tech Terrace area of Lubbock, Texas.
Our process involved familiarizing the 20+ member company with The Canterville Ghost. We then explored the world of Victorian England and the society in which Wilde traveled, issues of the place of women and girls in the 19th century, Wilde's relationship with America during his tour there, and race relations and concepts of nationality in both the UK and America during the time period.
Along with exploring dramaturgical aspects, the company learned "moment work" and ensemble storytelling skills. Each company member also responded to prompts by creating moments reflecting personal encounters with "otherness."
The months-long process familiarized the company with the idea of building a story through image, body, sound and shape long before any text was added.
Moments were devised and catalogued and each member of the company journaled individually in a manner intended to encourage personal investment and connection to the material.
Through the devising process, the script was shaped to reflect the journey of a young female artist in an oppressive society. Her inner life was reflected in spirits living within the haunted house depicted in the Wilde story. Audiences were transported to a local home for the immersive experience.
The Aesthete, a character inspired by Wilde, introduced the audience to the theatrical event. He provided background and context as they traveled from the campus box office to nearby "Canterville Chase" (a local home) by bus.
The ghost of Sir Simon de Canterville, himself an artist, wrestled with his murderous acts and issues of repressed and unexpressed sexuality and gender identity.
Lady de Canterville wears her sexuality and power with ease. After being murdered by Sir Simon, she haunts the Chase and becomes a mentor to young Virginia.
The cast of Canterville included a diverse array of performers (in gender identity, race, age and experience). Through the creative process, they bonded into a cohesive and impressive company of storytellers.
The work was mostly told through physical theatre and dance, although The Poet (pictured here) performed autobiographical poetry expressing his experiences as a man of color and an artist.
Ethan Beam, Lauren Robinson and Paul Kortemeier in a scene from Canterville, directed by Mr. Rapstine and presented by the Texas Tech University School of Theatre & Dance.
In 2011, Randall directed Margaret Cho’s The Sensuous Woman, starring Ms. Cho, that enjoyed a sold-out, extended run Off Broadway at The Zipper in addition to extended dates in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, and Chicago. He also directed James Judd’s 7 Sins, which played throughout Canada, in San Francisco and New York, at sea for Atlantis Cruise Lines and at The Edinburgh Fringe Festival. His playYAWS, adapted from Tennessee Williams and directed by Rapstine, was presented at The Tennessee Williams Institute at The Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theatre Festival. Randall also directed the immersive, site-specific and devised production Canterville, inspired by Oscar Wilde’s ghost story The Canterville Ghost, for the 2019 mainstage season of the Texas Tech School of Theatre & Dance.