Interview: WildClaw Theatre, Part 2: Aly Renee Greaves

Today, we chat with Aly Renee Greaves, resident Costume/Makeup Designer and member of the Wildclaw Theatre Company out of Chicago:
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IFP: Tell us about your current project. What is it called?

ARG: Right now, we are getting ready for this fall’s Deathscribe Horror Audio Drama Festival. We are sorting through the huge number of entries, trying to whiddle them down to only five. It’s really tough as there is quite a bit of wonderful, scary stuff in the lot. Several of us are working on some adaptations for future shows and some scary stories of our own, as well. I am also doing the hair and makeup for Dracula at the College of Dupage (my day job)!

IFP: How did you get involved with Wildclaw Theatre? What roles have you played in it? In which productions?

ARG: Artistic Director Charley Sherman asked me to come on board at the beginning and I jumped at the chance. I was big on horror as a kid and loved Clive Barker books and comics when I was in high school. The first play I ever paid to go see in Chicago, when I was 15, was In The Flesh, which, coincidentally, was worked on by half of the current Wildclaw Company. On my first date with fellow company member Brian Amidei, I saw a poster for In the Flesh on the wall of his apartment. I then found out that his roommate, Charley Sherman, was the director on that production! Crazy kismet. As for the Wildclaw shows, I have been the costume designer for all three shows thus far: Great God Pan, Dreams in the Witchhouse, and The Revenants.

IFP: What do you want to tell the audience with Wildclaw Theatre?

ARG: As a woman, I love showing that horror does not equate with “buxom girl in woods gets beheaded”. This can be a genre for everyone. It can be intelligent, engaging, sexy, and wildly imaginative.

IFP: What do you think having a live theatre production (as opposed to television or film) adds to the horror genre?

ARG: Getting the chance to scare people with live horror on stage is a real treat. The experience of watching something spooky unfold on stage in front of you is entirely visceral and thrilling in a way that horror on film just cannot compete. We get to make human (or sometimes inhuman) connections with audiences and engage their imaginations.

IFP: What other projects have you done? What was your favourite?

ARG: I am also a company member at Strawdog Theatre Company in Chicago. I think my favourite project thus far was Sam Shepard’s Tooth of Crime. I got to do some crazy, post-apocalyptic, rock-and-roll anti-heroes. It was good fun. Another favourite was Detective Story…a classic cop drama from the fifties with a huge cast and lots of fun things for a costume designer to do.

IFP: How do you think theatre differs from television and film?

ARG: Again…having someone’s throat slit and making it look believable without being able to yell “cut/reset” or doing CGI…it’s a huge challenge but the payoff is INTENSE. The stakes are so much higher in theatre. Things go wrong.-2 Chained-up zombies break loose. Blood packs can break early. But you also have the ability to find something new in a performance every night. It’s living and breathing and ever-changing thing.

IFP: What do you see as the biggest artistic challenge in producing a horror theatre production?

ARG: Finding something that will bring in horror fans as well as non-horror fans.

IFP: What do you see as the biggest technical challenge in producing a horror theatre production?

ARG: See above re: blood effects. Film and TV horror fans are so used to ridiculous spatter, CGI monsters and jumpy camera effects. However, even the simplest of effects on stage take FOREVER to engineer. But the payoff is so satisfying and, I keep coming back to this word, visceral.

IFP: Do you have a favourite play among the ones you have done?

ARG: Witchhouse was a crazy-huge beast of a play to tackle and I am so proud of the work we all did on our first show.

IFP: What play would you most like to do?

ARG: I would love to do a version of Frankenstein. I am so interested in horror that is created by a woman and this is an epic tale.

IFP: Who is your favourite playwright/author?

ARG: Shakespeare. Obvious, I know, but he also knows how to deliver some good gore and scares. Try Macbeth, for an example.

IFP: What artistic accomplishment are you most proud of in your life?

ARG: I am most proud of making a living as an artist. It is a huge luxury to be able to have a full-time job in what I was trained to do. Most people have to do it on the side and work some job they hate to pay the bills.

IFP: If you could be a Lovecraft/Mythos monster, which one would you be?

ARG: Tsathoggua, I dig his little ears.

IFP: What is your favourite Lovecraft/Mythos story?

ARG: I think Shadow over Innsmouth is wicked cool. I also love the Nyarlathotep.

IFP: Please tell us about your upcoming projects.

ARG: Dracula in the fall at the College of Dupage, then Uncle Vanya and Good Soul of Szechaun for Strawdog in the winter and spring and, of course, whatever we decide to do for season three of Wildclaw!

IFP: What is your dream project?

ARG: Frankenstein!

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Bio: Aly Renee Greaves hails from the northwest suburbs of Chicago. She got her degree in theatre from Knox College and her MFA in Costume Design from Carnegie Mellon. She now lives in Chicago and works full time as a costume designer at a college and freelances around town. When not doing theatre, she records a Joss Whedon/Buffy podcast called Undead America and also does a podcast about her crafty pursuits called Alyrenee’s Copious Spare Time.

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IFPInterview: WildClaw Theatre, Part 2: Aly Renee Greaves