SCAD Dramatic Writing Alumna Elisha Nain will complete her undergraduate program this Friday with a staged reading of her original play, a comedic-combative piece called “Maid of Slaughter.” The performance will take place at 12 p.m. at the SCAD Museum of Art Theater and is free and open for public viewing.
The show’s title is a play on the role of a maid of honor, who, in this production, is a swordsman who must protect the bride and groom from one of the bridesmaids. Nain said she first came up with the idea while visiting family in London last summer.
“I was thinking about all the terrible relationships I had been in that just weren’t…really fulfilling, or I felt like there was a sense of greed in those relationships where the relationship wasn’t authentic,” Nain said. “We wanted something from each other that we weren’t able to give. And I thought about that, and I thought about a wedding, because what better way to tell how you feel about someone than at a wedding, I feel like that always happens at a wedding.”
Nain said she focused on the central theme of bad or lingering relationships in the background at a wedding and developed the play’s plot from there.
“It was very ‘My Best Friend’s Wedding,'” Nain said. “Then at that same time when I was writing down the notes for it, the [shooting] in Orlando happened and I was starting to think about those people out there that aren’t allowed to be themselves and love freely. That’s when another character starts to develop and her name’s Ryan and she’s actually a closeted lesbian. So it developed into this story about these different types of people who have this want to love other people but are forgetting about the important relationships that they need to nurture their friendships or their relationships right in front of them.”
Initially, the show’s main character was Louise, the maid of honor for the wedding in question. Nain described her as the “My Best Friend’s Wedding” archetype who desires to be with the groom.
“But she’s a swordsman as well and she ends up having to help her groom and the bride not get killed by the bridesmaid Ryan,” Nain explained. “She [Ryan] wants to kill them for money. It’s a very intense play. The maid of slaughter is that woman of honor that’s chosen by the bride to make sure the wedding goes smoothly and the slaughter part is because she’s a swordsman.”
Nain said she is humbled and excited to see her characters come to life in a staged reading. Because audience will not be able to see the play’s combat scenes, Nain said she really had to rely on her dialogue to elevate the aggressive and action-packed moments.
“I believe my actors are doing a beautiful job at conveying that,” Nain said. “The cast is seven people, seven beautiful people, and it’s a different range. Some of them are just newer, like they’re freshmen and sophomores. I believe Alex Fundora is a sophomore and he plays Bridges and then you have our leads like Averie Bueller. She is graduating this year, and she plays Esther who is our mother character. I’m really excited that I get to show different ranges of talent and get to allow them to grow together.”
Even after writing and rewriting multiple drafts of the show, Nain said she did not intend to do a staged reading, because she did not think it was ready. It took the word of one of Nain’s dramatic writing professors, Renee Bishop, to convince her that the show deserved a staged reading.
“[She] basically said, ‘If you don’t put this on a staged reading, I don’t even know why you wrote it,'” Nain said. “So she helped me get the representation. She sponsored my play, and I started reaching out to different venues that SCAD is a part of, just seeing what spaces were available for the time I wanted to do the play. Then I held auditions with J. Paige Howe who is our stage manager and just found the right people that work best for these characters. So it was a lot of producing on my part, but the support definitely helped me get everything all together.”
With the exception of the show’s sponsorship and stage management, Nain arranged and oversaw almost everything else for the production. She not only wrote the show but also directed and produced it, which she said was unusual for her since she considers herself an introvert.
“I’m so shy,” Nain said with a laugh. “In this sense, because it was such a different play, even Professor Auer said, ‘I’ve never seen a play like this before,’ it got to a point where I had to direct it, because I was the only one that just understood this vision. There aren’t a lot of combative plays that are also comedic and also romances, so I guess to my own avail I had to direct so that the first time that’s it’s done is the right time.”
Nain said she owes the final produced version of the show to the encouragement of her friends and peers who helped from the very beginning of the process and as the show progressed from page to staged reading.
“Nothing is better than the support of your peers and people who have watched you grow as an artist,” Nain said. “There’s nothing more humbling, exciting about that. That means there’s other people out there that want to see this.
“Maid of Slaughter: A Staged Reading” premiers Friday, May 26 at 12 p.m. at the SCAD Museum of Art Theater.