Friday, April 8, 2011

Terminator the Second by Husky Jackal Theater

When I was in high school and had to read The Crucible in lit class, me and some friends had the tongue-in-cheek idea to make a movie — a film halfway influenced by The Crucible, halfway influenced by Terminator 2: Judgement Day. We were going to call it THE CRUCINATOR. At the time, we were excited about it, and we managed to get half the senior class excited about it too. In fact, we were so excited that we collectively skipped a day of school to actually go out and film THE CRUCINATOR. There was no working script, no costumes, no anything really. But we did have a camera and a rough outline of what we wanted to see happen. I remember the ending: After defeating pretty much everyone and everything pro AS WELL AS anti-witch in Salem, John Proctor would have had a heartfelt moment with his wife Elizabeth. He’d take her into his arms, shed a tear, and say, “There’s one more witch, and it must be destroyed also.” Proctor would then point to himself. Dramatically, he would release Elizabeth, move to the edge of the gallows, reach out, take the rope in his hands, slip the noose around his neck, make one last eye contact with Elizabeth, give her a big thumbs up, and step off the gallows. Ah, as silly as that is, to this day some part of me still feels like that was a good idea.

Sadly, our project didn't go very well. It was a mess, and the video that came out of it was an unfinished jumble of improv and silliness that didn't look very much like either Crucible or Terminator. But we did have fun... Man, I really wish I could find that video!

Maybe that’s why I got so excited when I found out about Terminator the Second. The Husky Jackal Theater company in Nashville have adapted Terminator 2 for the stage and, through a painstaking process, have managed to replace every single line of dialogue with something that William Shakespeare once said!

Husky Jackal Theater: “We adhered to strict guidelines regarding the usage of Shakespeare’s works. Each line and phrase is taken directly from folios printed by or before 1685, and many extended sections of dialogue are composed of individual lines from separate works. Only proper nouns and pronouns were subject to change, as dictated by the plot. In these instances, all proper nouns are supplanted only by other proper nouns, and all pronouns by other pronouns. In some cases, corresponding verb tenses are modified. These practices enabled us to accurately retell the story of Terminator 2: Judgment Day while remaining true to the words of Shakespeare in form (if less so in intent).”

And judging from sample pages of the script (1) (2), it sounds like they have done a remarkably good job.

To be back, or not to be back?

When I first heard about this, I was stoked. The whole concept is just hilarious! These guys have taken our Crucinator idea to the next level. I knew right away that, if such a play actually existed, I NEEDED to see it. And that’s when I read some of the details on their Kickstarter page. For a pledge of $50, Husky Jackal promises two tickets. For $100 they were offering the tickets plus a copy of the script with an annotated bibliography of all the quote sources!!! I was immediately reaching for my wallet.

But then I stopped.

Who was this Husky Jackal Theater? What is this Kickstarter? I needed to make sure it wasn’t a scam. So I sent an email to Husky Jackal. Cutting to the chase, I found out that they are indeed legitimate, and I decided to go ahead and pledge $100 to help fund their project. However, if you are less than convinced, I would like to share our email conversation at the end of this blog entry, especially since Terminator the Second has kinda gone viral over the past few days, and I feel like I have this exclusive interview with its creators. It was very informative and contained a good deal of information that hasn’t been posted anywhere else on the web.

If you’re a fan of theater, comedy, Shakespeare, or Terminator, this is a ridiculous fever-dream come true. I strongly urge anyone who gets a chuckle out this to consider making a pledge to these good folks. The performance is supposed to take place in Nashville some time this summer. I’ll definitely be there. Maybe I’ll see you there too!

P.S. Oh, and Husky Jackal, if you ever decide to make a sequel, I hope you'll keep The Crucinator in mind... It could be gold!

An email from me to Husky Jackal:

Dear Husky Jackal Theater,

I really want to donate to your project, because it sounds cool as hell, but I want to make sure it isn't a scam. Can I maybe get a little additional info? Is this your first production? What other plays have you been involved with in the past? That sort of thing. I desperately want this to be real, so I hope I'm not coming off as rude. Thing is, I googled "Husky Jackal Theater" and couldn't find a link to anything else you've done. I just want to be sure you exist outside of the internet. I'm poised to donate, and I don't need much convincing, but can I please have SOMETHING?  Please write back soon, as I can't wait to make a pledge.

- Ricky Aucoin

An email from Husky Jackal to me:

Hi Ricky,

Thanks for getting in touch, and we completely appreciate your concern. You're right--we don't have much of a web presence. We're building it up as we speak (including a site for Terminator the Second in the works), but Husky Jackal was essentially formed to put on this production.

Husky Jackal Theater co-founder Marshall Weber and I spent the majority of 2010 writing the script. We've spent the past several months bringing the early elements of our production together. We've secured a dedicated and talented crew. We have support from a local venue (the Exit/In), and a near-complete cast. We have secured rehearsal space, (in a local warehouse), and will begin running rehearsals in a few weeks. We've established connections within the local theater community to ensure that we can continue to grow our team in the right way, and we're going to continue to do so.

Now, here's what we don't have: a reputation to trade on, and most of the luxuries of established theater companies. We're an all-volunteer operation, and this entire project is both a labor of love and an experiment in bringing Shakespearean theater into non-traditional spaces (rock clubs), in front of new audiences.

Each member of our cast and crew, including Marshall and myself, brings a degree of experience in one regard or another (many of our crew worked together initially on the award-winning feature "Make-Out with Violence," which I co-created, and in which I co-star--you can check it out at, or read the NY Times review here: [clearly, I'm not above a little self-promotion).

Some of our lead actors have had notable roles in films and local theater productions, but we're essentially operating on a community theater model: find the people who bring passion AND talent, and empower them in ways they might not be empowered in more traditional, established companies. And, that being said, the attention we're finding will help us attract the best people we can for the project, which is critical--we want this show to be an *event.*

And here's the other important thing, Ricky--we thought we had a pretty good promotion strategy in place, but we had absolutely no idea how quickly this was going to take off. If we'd known that there were as many other people who wanted to make this happen as we've found, we absolutely would have made ourselves more available. It's something we're working towards doing now, and I hope this message helps to put your mind at ease. Please let me know if you have any additional questions.

Cody DeVos
Co-Founder, Husky Jackal Theater

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