Do you know what a zombie looks like? Do you know how you become infected? Would you be aware of the safest place to go when the undead rise? Could you effectively kill a zombie with just a Florida orange lip balm and roll of scotch tape? The answer to these questions may be 'yes'. The answer to these questions may be 'no' or the answer could just be 'I don't care' well, you should care! Because if you don't care then you will die! And then you will rise from the dead. And then we'll have to kill you. And then you'll die again. and that is just unacceptable. -Dr. Dale Seslick Author of "How To Survive A Zombie Apocalypse" (The Book)
This is why, Combined Artform and After Dark Entertainment are bringing this life saving seminar to Theatre Asylum, opening October 31st and running as needed to ensure survival. That's right the smash UK hit now has a U.S. version, spreading the word of the illustrious Dr. Dale Seslick creator of the School of Survival in the UK. Dr. Dale has selected Dr. Bobert Dougash to start the U.S. branch School of Survival and has assembled a crack team of zombie survivalists who will entertain as well as inform their audience, insuring the survival of the human race as we approach the apocalypse.
Featuring: Patrick Bristow, Jayne Entwistle, Jess McKay, Chris Sheets, Mario Vernazza, Henry Watkins and Vanessa Whitney.
Written & Created by Ben Muir, Jess Napthine, David Ash, Lee Cooper / After Dark Productions
US Version: Edited & additional material by Patrick Bristow
Directed by Patrick Bristow
Produced by Matthew Quinn / Combined Artform
REVIEWS FOR THE SHOW
CAMPUS CIRCLE "How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse": Now - Feb. 24 @ Theatre Asylum By Hiko Mitsuzuka
If you've ever wanted to brush up on your machete skills and find out if you're likely to become mincemeat as a character on "The Walking Dead," then "How To Survive A Zombie Apocalypse" is for you. It also provides some LOL-worthy infotainment while we wait for the zombie rom-com Warm Bodies and this summer's big-budgeted World War Z to hit theaters.
The creative minds behind "HTSZA," presented by Combined Artform and After Dark Entertainment, have delivered a hysterical and highly entertaining show at the Theater Asylum for anyone who's ever seen (or ran away from) a zombie flick.Dawn of the Dead, 28 Days Later, Resident Evilthey're all mentioned and lampooned in this simply staged production written and created by Ben Muir, Jess Napthine, David Ash and Lee Cooper. It also doubles as a cleverly constructed educational tool for any doomsday "prepper" anticipating an undead uprising in the near future. And let's face it; now that 2012's Mayan prophecies are behind us, we can focus our collective attention on how to protect ourselves in a new disaster.
At the center of this mock seminar, spreading the word of the illustrious Dr. Dale Seslick (creator of the "School of Survival" in the U.K.) is Dr. Bobert Dougash (familiar-looking actor and director Patrick Bristow). Dougash has started the U.S. branch of the School, based on Dale's real-life book "Dr. Dale's Zombie Dictionary: The A-Z Guide to Staying Alive" (seriously, you can buy an actual copy). He has also assembled a crack team of zombie survivalists (a doctor, a military guy and a slacker geek) who entertain as well as inform the audience, insuring the survival of the human race during the brain-eater epidemic. That said, get ready to learn a few important lessons, like why a vampire could be your best friend.
The briskly paced show, formatted like so many of those self-help seminars that deserve to be satirically skewered, has been adapted for American audiences, particularly the Los Angeles crowd (jokes about the Cahuenga Pass and Toluca Lake will have some local residents chuckling in their seats). There's a fun, all-hands-on-deck sensibility to the show, and much of it is due to Bristow's comedic skills. He's clearly familiar with the material and has brushed up on all of his zombie cinema homework. And did I mention there's a "Gangnam Style" cameo in the middle of the show on the minimalist set?
Cast members Jayne Entwistle, Chris Sheets and Tom Ashworth each bring their own interpretation to the comedic nuts and bolts that make up the zany experience. All of them skillfully balance improv with the scripted dialogue since the format of the show requires quick thinking, especially during moments of audience participation. And there's plenty of it. Peppered throughout the production are several pop quizzes and audience Q&As during which the game-faced cast interacts with the crowd. Think "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" crossed with a Comic-Con panel.
Theatre Asylum is located at 6320 Santa Monica Blvd. in Los Angeles. For more information, click here. For more pop cultural ramblings from Hiko, check out TheFirstEcho.com or tweet him @TheFirstEcho.
ARTS IN LA
How To Survive a Zombie Apocalypse Combined Artform and After Dark Entertainment at Theatre Asylum & Lab
Reviewed by Dink O'Neal
Curse you, George Romero! Oh sure, there have been films focused on reanimated cadavers that predate the famous director's 1968 groundbreaker, but these were populated primarily by ashen-faced, hollow-eyed voodoo slaves lurching across the screen in forgettable titles such as 1932's White Zombie. But along came Romero's Night of the Living Dead and with it a whole new set of ground rules as to why these creatures exist, what their objectives are, and how to avoid becoming their next meal.
In the spirit of Dawn of..., Day of, Return of, Land of..., and yes, evenShaun of the Dead, this half-scripted, half-improvisational, Americanized edition of a British version (original written by Ben Muir, Jess Napthine, David Ash, Lee Cooper/After Dark Entertainment) is back to poke fun and a few sharp objects at our fascination with this horror genre.
Director Patrick Bristow and his fellow trio of actors have accomplished something more than merely admirable in adapting this piece for us Yanks. They finesse this material with, dare the pun be uttered, deadpan proficiency. The result is a comic home run that keeps the subject matter engaging even for those who, like this reviewer, have previously found this particular field of fiction to be of minor interest. Bristow is an emcee extraordinaire, playing the role of Dr. Bobert Dougash, a clinical specialist whose overriding desire is to prepare the rest of us for the as-yet-to-occur but surely imminent arrival of the show's titular calamity. Never flagging in enthusiasm, Bristow demonstrates an expertise for realizing when a bit has run its course or can be milked for a few more guffaws. And upon sitting down with a figurative stool and bucket, milk them he does with a magnificently dry delivery.
Dr. Dougash's compatriots from the School of Survivalbe sure to watch for the specialized hand signal hereincluded, on the night reviewed, Mario Vernazza, Jayne Entwistle, and Chris Sheets as conspiracy-minded lunatics. Vernazza is a comic powder keg as Ronald Jarfist, a camouflage-clad, pseudo-military type constantly restrained by Bristow from making slightly sexy overtures to female audience members. Entwistle exudes the perfect air of scientific authority as the lab-coated, bespectacled Kirsta Kanbert until her unpredictably nutty communications with the audience on survival do's and don'ts prove her to be just as much a first-class eccentric. Sheets sidesplittingly portrays Braydon Manxpipe, the partvillage idiot, partscientific experiment guinea pig for the group. Sheets does a fantastic job of personifying this tousled man-child's literal take on each new piece of incoming information. He's not retarded, just hilariously befuddled.
Three chairs and a podium keep the focus in this cozy venue right where it needs to be: on the performers and their interactions with the viewers. This briskly paced, family-friendly one-act deserves a long and profitable run, be that at the box office or away from the brain-eating undead. November 5, 2012
The American Way of Surviving a Zombie Apocalypse by PATRICK BRISTOW | October 30, 2012
Mario Vernazza, Jayne Entwistle and Chris Sheets in "How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse US Version" I had heard about this hilarious and wonderful show from the UK, How To Survive A Zombie Apocalypse, in 2011, when it played at Theatre Asylum as part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival. Though previous commitments had prohibited my attendance, I was shown a video of one of the original cast's performances and fell in love. Not only with the basic concept of a fake seminar on the zombie topic, but also with the cast and an interactive element, which appealed to my improv background. When I was approached by producer Matthew Quinn of Combined Artform to direct his new US version of HTSAZA, and also adapt the script to an American sensibility, I was nervous. How do you take something that is a proven phenomenon and adjust it to create something that is at once faithful to the original version but that won't have audiences scratching their heads at in-jokes about very specific English locales and references?
Patrick Bristow We did a table read of two different scripts from Ben Muir's original productions and chose one of them to serve as our base script. Incorporating some elements from the other, we cut down some of the lengthy monologues that Ben is so expert at delivering and replaced English references with American ones. We also had to create brand-new characters with entirely new identities, as the originals are currently and allegedly hunkered down in a secret location in or around London awaiting the impending zombie apocalypse. Our new characters would cover the same material presented by the original English characters. It was like the beginning of a franchise or a religion where we had access to the teachings and the blessings of the high priests but we were left alone on a mission in a strange new world to fend for ourselves. The freedom given us by Ben allowed us to workshop the new script with very few restrictions. We cast performers who had previously worked with either Matthew or myself, and who fit the basic sensibilities of the original four performers who brought HTSAZA to life. Several members of my Improvatorium company and improv school were tapped to help create these new characters. I took on the new role of Dr. Dougash, who is introduced as an acolyte of the original Dr. Dale character.
Rehearsals began at Theatre Asylum after the first pass at adapting the script. Some sections worked. Others didn't make the translation to American characters and humor. The rehearsal process was more like a workshop all hands on deck providing feedback, script ideas, and even directional suggestions. Cast members Jayne Entwistle, Chris Sheets and Mario Vernazza all brought great ideas to the table. By using our backgrounds in improv, we were able to find our own interpretations of various comedic bits in the scripts as well as discovering new ones. As we prepare to open, jokes are still being refined and gags continue to be finessed. It's still "all hands on deck," and the collaboration is in full swing. I may be credited as the director, but I feel more like the emcee of a creative collaboration that merely needs someone to be the final word on this question or that one. With such an interactive show, the only currently missing piece is the audience. That's always the case a few days before opening, but when a show depends this heavily on audience interaction, the need for that audience is felt even more acutely. I can't wait to teach our audiences how to save themselves in the inevitable zombie apocalypse that we all know is drawing near (or "nigh" as our British counterparts would say).
Patrick Bristow is most recognizable for his four years recurring on ABC's Ellen. He has more than 100 miscellaneous half-hour and hour credits and feature film roles. He was a member of the Groundlings main company for five years and also taught and directed there. His own new improv company and school, Improvatorium, is quickly making a mark with its improvised genre-inspired plays. Bristow is the co-creator of Jim Henson Company's Off-Broadway phenom, Stuffed And Unstrung, (fka Puppet Up) The Drama Desk-nominated live improv puppet show has played to packed houses and great reviews in Edinburgh, Sydney, Melbourne, Aspen, and Las Vegas. He directs the show as well as serving as the onstage emcee.
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