Since Phoenix ComiCon in 2011, the DREAD Fleet has presented a new and exciting stage show filled with swords, stunts, songs, and dance! While our budget is small and our time limited, every person involved has a passion and energy to make the performance amazing. Each show is a 45 minute program, and that’s a lot of information in a short amount of time. We also only have the panel room for just over an hour. From start to finish it is manic and epic. I could share with you something piratey, yet I feel it is important to give a little nod to the amazing crew that makes every show special, as well as giving you, our legendary audiences, a sneak peek into the wild ride that leads up to that one special hour on Saturday night at Phoenix ComiCon.
Let’s Get the Cannon Ball Rolling
In 2011 I was asked to take a book I never thought would happen and turn it into a stage production. I had never written a script. The Fleet had a crew of novice actors and stunt performers – most of whom were really just geeks with anxiety issues, big hearts, and stars in their eyes. That first script blobbed out in a few weeks. Props were scrounged in a few days. We beat ourselves up on weekends and evenings until the very last moments before that performance. The crowd filled the room to standing capacity. And that breath before applause filled our ears was the most nerve wracking experience I could ever be blessed with. I had no idea it would lead to a request for another show the following year, the year after, and so on ….
Below the Decks and Behind the Scenes
Every member of the DREAD Fleet is a volunteer. Every penny that goes into props is donated. It isn’t about fortune or glory. It’s the very core of piracy – Freedom. Every January I release a script and let the crew shred it until it shines. By February we have our final plan and performers. By March, choreography. Props and costumes sometimes happen right up until the big day. The dozen or so crew of friends and volunteers gather twice a week for a mere couple of hours, typically outside, in the Arizona heat, through March and April. We drill, we make changes, we all build, sew, dance, and rewrite. Mostly we learn. Every pirate pulls his own weight. I won’t lie, things can get pretty intense. And yes, we all have real swords….
Bring Us That Horizon
Even though a fair amount of the research on which crazy historical figure to contort into a humorous and memorable performance falls in my lap, I have been honored to work with other writers over the past several years; including the illustrious J.J Zbylski, who’s book, Flushed, we took to the stage in 2016. The DREAD Fleet has worked with LARPers, professional costume designers, brilliant swordsmen, stunning dancers, formers WWE wrestlers, mermaids, set designers, families, and kids. But mostly, our crew is made up of geeks like you. People who just want to entertain and educate. So, while the puns may be groaners, and the dances might be a bit odd, watch. You might learn more than history. You might discover the core of being a pirate. Freedom, Fun, and Friendships.