Imagine you meet a guy at the laundromat. He’s handsome, charming and smart. He reads Dostoevsky. (But only if you’re into that.) You go dancing all night; you have a great time. Hanging out with him is awesome. Then you start to get suspicious, as slightly supernatural things begin happening. You wrench the truth out of your new beau, and it’s worse than you thought: He’s actually the spawn of the netherworld. Well, maybe you can still figure things out. In Say You Love Satan, the next offering by Blackout Theatre, that’s what the characters think. Nicole Duke, director of the play, says the two leads have a frank conversation about their situation. “Jack tells Andrew he’s the son of Satan, and they just go with it. They roll with that.”
The author of Say You Love Satan, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, has several plays under his belt. He has also written multiple comics for Marvel, and was hired in early spring to rework the script for the Broadway clusterfuck Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. Duke and Blackout Artistic Director Jeff Andersen talk about what drew them to Aguirre-Sacasa’s work in Say You Love Satan. “It’s a really simple story written in a really interesting way,” Andersen says. “I think the strength of it is probably the characters.” Duke agrees but is more cryptic about the play’s plot points and overall message. Despite the title, “I don’t think it’s really about love,” she says. “But there’s some love in the play. It’s more about a guy who falls for Satan.” Or a guy who may be Satan or Satan’s son. Andersen says the play is about a guy who tangles with the devil, but it’s still a comedy.
Blackout says the run of the play is just in time for Albuquerque Pride. So what does Say You Love Satan have to do with the festival celebrating the LGBT community and its supporters? Playwright Aguirre-Sacasa is openly gay. Duke says most of the characters in the show are also gay. Of course she could have cast any actors, she says, but because there are so many great gay actors who would relish a great gay role, she took the opportunity to cast them.
The play is not specifically about gay issues though, Artistic Director Andersen says. “This situation happens to happen to a bunch of characters who are gay.” Still, the hope is that the play and new performers might draw audience members from the LGBT community.
Directing Say You Love Satan has been a new experience for Duke. She has been a Blackout member since the company’s inception four years ago, but this is her first time as director. The company describes itself as “full-spectrum,” which to Andersen means two things. The first is that the group is not limited to one style of theater or type of play. Any genre the artists like, any idea they want to try, can get thrown into the mix. “And second is that everyone is actively training and learning to be everything,” he says. No company member is only an actor. “That might be your strength, but you should also learn how to direct, learn how to design, learn how to produce, learn how to do everything. If you haven’t done something, it’s kind of encouraged that it’s your turn.” Duke says her turn has been much less daunting than she anticipated because she’s had good advice and help from other company members. “It’s nice,” she says, “because they’re a strong support team to keep things moving forward.”
“Jack tells Andrew he’s the son of Satan, and they just go with it. They roll with that.”
Nicole Duke, director of Say You Love Satan
In a world where the supernatural is normal and dating a demon seems like an acceptable possibility, Blackout wants to keep the camp factor down. The costumes and makeup are realistic, Duke says. The actor playing Satan’s son won’t be wearing red, plastic horns. Instead, the spikes will be subtle. Duke compares them to an abnormal growth or sub-dermal implants: unusual, but acceptably so.
Andersen says the play will appeal to people because it’s in a gray area: good and evil are mixed, and moral lines are blurry. Watching a character choose their path usually isn’t as exciting, he says, because the right choice is obvious, and the audience can easily predict what the eventual course will be. Say You Love Satan is “about good and evil and making the right choice and what happens when you don’t,” says Duke. But, she insists, the mood is light. Andersen agrees. “It’s really just a fun, goofy comedy.”