Santa Fe Performing Arts’ upcoming play imagines the “boredom and ennui” that Marvel and D.C. heroes endure when they’re not saving the world and how not fighting crime can drive some of them crazy.
“You’ve got Batman haranguing dry cleaning attendants, Aquaman trying and failing to convince a woman he’s a convincing superhero, the Hulk filing his taxes, stuff like that,” said director Corbin Albaugh.
The show, “Superheroes,” features seven actors ages 7-12 from the City Different Plays kids’ troupe in a series of vignettes. The short scenes mostly follow Hawkeye, Batman and Storm as they maneuver everyday life, as well as other heroes like Wonder Woman, Spiderman and the Green Lantern.
Jonah Waipa, an 11-year-old from El Dorado, plays Batman and Aquaman. With such a small cast, all of the kids are playing multiple roles. Batman, he says, can’t get out of work mode. The caped vigilante craves the “rush” of defeating villains, said Waipa, so he stops citizens for mundane things like littering.
“He never can really stop,” said Waipa. “He’s just Batman always.”
And Hawkeye just has to deal with the frustration of nobody knowing who he is, said Lucas Kovnat, the 11-year-old Santa Fean playing the Avenger and Spiderman. “Everyone thinks he’s Batman,” he said. People on the street only stop Hawkeye to talk about his fellow superheroes and don’t even remember what his powers are. “The fans use him to talk about the other Avengers and express admiration for them,” said Kovnat.
Albaugh said the play is a venture away from more traditional theater productions for children, like “The Wizard of Oz” or “Alice in Wonderland.” With more contemporary and well-known characters, the challenge is getting the kids to make their roles their own rather than trying to act like what they see in the movies. “One of the things we stressed early on is you’re playing a superhero, find what works for you within that. Don’t just do an impression,” said Albaugh.
The show, he says, mixes what’s in the script with quirky, “absurd” ideas the kids have added.
“You can never predict the things they are going to get fired up about,” said Albaugh. “So when they do, it’s cool to ride that wave.”
Shows will be from today to Sunday, and next Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.