When you see everything that is going on in neighbor Clay McLeod Chapman’s life right now – penning vignettes for a theatrical performance that begins tonight, re-imagining Spider-Man’s origin story, writing and acting in a horror anthology, and about a billion more things, there seem to be no better way to describe him than with the words of author Tom Robbins:
Like a demonic angel on a skateboard, like a resurrected Artaud on methadrine, like a tattletale psychiatrist turned rodeo clown, Clay McLeod Chapman races back and forth along the serrated edges of everyday American madness, objectively recording each whimper of anguish, each whisper of skewed desire. This is strong stuff, intense stuff, sometimes disturbing stuff, but I think the many who admire Chuck Palahniuk will admire Chapman as well.
So, what is our demonic angel on a skateboard up to these days? Where do we even begin?
The 3-Legged Dog production sounds pretty darn cool:
Love at first sight, blind dates, late night hook-ups, and ugly breaks-ups unfold in this one-of-a-kind theatrical experience comprised of short plays inspired by the New York dating scene and set throughout Fat Baby’s three levels. Cruise the characters and grab drinks as you choose what to watch and which summer fling (or shitshow) to follow.
Play/Date is an immersive and voyeuristic theatrical experience set throughout the three levels of Fat Baby, a nightclub and lounge on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. During the performance, the lines between reality and fiction are blurred, allowing guests to view and experience the “show” as it emerges in unlikely ways from unexpected directions.
After admission, guests can move around the bar, lounge and balcony – following scenes as they move or proceeding from one scene to the next.
The show runs through the end of the month at Fat Baby (112 Rivington Street between Essex and Ludlow Street), and tickets are $30 for general admission and $50 for reserved table seating. Tickets are available by calling Ovationtix at 866-811-4111 or visiting www.3ld.org.
For all you comic fans, Marvel Comics invited Clay to, as he wrote to us, “re-imagine Spider-Man’s origin story as if it were a horror movie.” Clay’s story, “I Walked With A Spider,” will be part of the upcoming “Edge of Spider-Verse” mini-series that will come out this fall, alongside artwork by Elia Bonnetti and a cover by Garry Brown. The street date for the issue #4 is Oct. 1.
Clay did an awesome interview with Marvel, during which he talks about how he and Elia came up with this world in which Peter Parker is not the good man always adhering to his moral compass.
From the interview:
My editor Ellie Pyle and I started chatting about the idea of re-envisioning the origin story of Peter Parker/Spider-Man as if it were a horror movie,” Chapman explains. “What if we approached one of the most beloved beginnings of a super hero and looked at it through a completely different lens? The familiar map points of Parker’s story are all there—the radioactive spider bite, with great power comes great responsibility, living with your aunt/uncle, etc.—but rather than take the path Parker chose, our anti-hero, Patton Parnell—a fusion of Patton Oswalt and Chris Parnell—goes in the exact opposite direction.
Because, if you think about it, our world is very fortunate to have had that spider take a bite out of Parker and not, say, a complete sociopath. The rule for writing this story was: W.W.P.P.N.D.?—What Would Peter Parker Not Do? Parnell comes to the same moral crossroads that Parker did when he was first discovering his powers, only Parnell chooses the road less taken, every time.
The Hollywood Reporter also got in on this Spider-Man action.
So, moving from Peter Parker horror to more in the world of terror – Clay wrote, and acted in, a segment for Chiller TV’s new anthology horror film, “Chilling Visions,” along with the director Glenn McQuaid. The segment, “The Trouble With Dad,” was, as Glenn called it, “a Ken Loach film that gets hijacked by ‘Tales From The Crypt.'”
And, to add to Clay’s long list of theater accolades, “Hostage Song,” an indie-rock musical that he wrote the book for alongside Kyle Jarrow, just wrapped up its incredibly successful UK premiere at the Finborough Theatre in London. The show landed stellar reviews, with, for example, Everything Theatre writing:
Raw performances draw the emotion and horror from a blunt, hard-hitting script… Clay McLeod Chapman’s writing gathers momentum and becomes increasingly brilliant, with dazzling poetic flashes. It also becomes increasingly gruesome as scenes flit imperceptibly between horrific reality and childlike fantasy.
Don’t think we’re done yet.
Long a fixture in the writing scene, Clay sat down with Drunk Monkeys for an interview about his last 20 years in the worlds of words and talked about everything from realizing how much it would “suck to get stuck at a rest stop” paving the way for his book, “Rest Area,” to the importance of humor in wading through all the darkness we can face in our lives:
First off, I think humor is a mechanism we can use to cope with whatever horrors we face in our everyday lives. I think laughter can be a perfectly natural response to things that frighten us. It’s not necessarily the first response, or the only response or even the best response—but sometimes laughter can be that quick release on the ol’ pressure valve that fear tightens up within us. I think horror and comedy co-exist quite nicely with another, and oftentimes support one another on the level of catharsis.
And! Clay wrote this fantastic article for the 2014 Theater Communications Group National Conference: Crossing Border blog salon, curated by Caridad Svich. Here’s his piece, “I’ll Be Your One-Way Mirror: Crossing the 4th Wall.”
Congratulations on everything, Clay! We’re super excited about all that is happening this summer – and can’t wait to read more about the new bad boy Peter Parker.