If you saw a bolt from the blue last October, it wasn’t Superman. It was Clemson alumni of the Wishbone Theatre Collective, swooping in to perform their super hero-themed play, SPANDEX, at the Brooks Center for the Performing Arts.
The Chicago-based theatre company spent a week in technical rehearsals and student-focused activities before giving two performances of their original work in the Bellamy Theatre. The poignant comedy/drama questions ideas of perfection, bravery and the American superhero through the eyes of children and adults.
Wishbone Theatre Collective was founded in 2009 by former members of the Clemson Players, the University’s student theatre troupe. Since then, the organization has staged mostly original works written by members of the company, including Returning from Madness (by Laurie Jones ’08) and En El Corazon (by Jones and Mandy Stertz ’08), as well as the classic ghost story, The Woman in Black. In addition to several non-Clemson company members, Wishbone’s current roster includes Elizabeth Finley ’08, Katie Jones ’08, Laurie Jones ’08, Erin Lovelace ’10, Mandy Stertz ’08 and Kimberly Van Ness ’08.
SPANDEX premiered in 2011 at the Chicago Fringe Festival and later traveled to the 2013 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. “We created the play as an ensemble through the inspiration of our childhood superheroes,” says Laurie Jones, who co-directs the production with her sister, Katie. “Wishbone did a children’s camp one summer, and we kept hearing the kids talking about good guys and bad guys. We thought we would take this childlike version of right and wrong and apply it to a real-life situation.”
While in Clemson, Wishbone conducted an improvisation workshop as well as a Q-and-A session for students. They shared stories of performing in less than ideal venues (their production of The Woman in Black was staged at a creepy funeral home) and of the joys and challenges of creating a theatre company from scratch.
Katie Jones, who was in the first graduating class of Clemson performing arts majors, told students that state-of-the-art equipment is not a requirement to produce a show: “You don’t need much. All you really need is six chairs and an imagination.”