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Friday, April 12, 2024

Knight of the Bat returns

Halifax's The Villians Theatre is back at this year's Halifax Fringe with Knight of the Bat: the Act of Assemblers, the sequel to their 2022 Fringe show.

Halifax’s The Villains Theatre returns with Knight of the Bat: the Act of Assemblers, the sequel to their 2022 Halifax Fringe show, once again asking the age-old question: What if William Shakespeare secretly dressed up as a nocturnal vigilante and fought crime under a bat-themed alias?

KotB2 has given me a chance to explore our culture’s fascination with both sequels and the multiverse … and I think it will give audiences a chance to laugh about how ridiculous and complex these cinematic universes have become.

We learn more in this Q&A with writer and director Dan Bray.

Knight of the Bat: the Act of Assemblers plays as part of the 2023 Halifax Fringe Festival at the Bus Sto Theatre on September 4-10. Visit the Halifax Fringe ticket outlet for tickets and information.

This interview has been edited.

Tell us about Knight of the Bat: the Act of Assemblers. What can audiences expect?

Knight of the Bat: the Act of Assemblers (KotB2) is the thrilling sequel to last year’s original superhero comedy, Knight of the Bat. But no worries if you missed the first one, as this play can still be enjoyed all on its own and was indeed written with this consideration in mind.

Like its predecessor, this is a very silly and smart comedy that asks the age-old question: What if William Shakespeare secretly dressed up as a nocturnal vigilante and fought crime under a bat-themed alias?

You can expect a ton of superhero jokes and pop-culture commentary directed at more than one specific franchise this time round, as well as some classic Shakespeare jests if ’tis your bag.

Like last year, this show is just a super fun time, full of action, laughs, and maybe even a tear or two and showcases another fantastic cast featuring some of Halifax’s favourite actors.

What inspired Knight of the Bat: the Act of Assemblers?

Last year’s Knight of the Bat featured a throwaway joke about the potential of there being a sequel. At the time, I thought it was just a funny line, but then folks started asking me if there would actually be a follow-up piece.

The more I thought about it, the more I loved the idea of building a theatrical universe that would grow and evolve. Plus, when is there ever just one of these stories in a franchise? The problem was I had already used up 99% of the classic villains in the first one. What was there left to spoof?

I tried to write a sequel for a while, but it always felt forced. However, I had also been tossing around an idea for a play, for no particular reason, about a super-group named the Assemblers, as well as another show about Shakespeare travelling the multiverse, inspired by films like Everything Everywhere All at Once. Suddenly, the three ideas collided, and KotB2 was born. My unused concept for the sequel is now being funnelled into KotB3, the thrilling conclusion of my Batrilogy.

Unexpectedly, a big part of this sequel explores how hard it is to write a sequel. Last year’s show was so much fun to write and produce, and audiences loved it. There’s nothing worse than a sequel that poops all over the first one’s legacy. However, writing this play allowed me to work through my neurosis and enjoy writing for the sake of writing, to forget what audiences might think and enjoy the process, which was very liberating. However, this inner battle is a huge part of Shakespeare’s journey in this show, which opens the doors to a lot of metatheatrical fun.

Why this particular show now?

I remember answering these questions last year and talking about how inundated we were with superhero content. And man, if we thought we had a lot of superhero stuff back in 2022, ho-doggy 2023 sure proved us all wrong. There is so much superhero malarkey out there these days that even I’m getting to a point where I think enough is enough. Superhero fatigue is real, and it’s here—especially multiverse stuff. Just in case one universe of movies wasn’t sufficient, we now have direct links to every superhero movie ever made.

KotB2 has allowed me to explore our culture’s fascination with both sequels and the multiverse – again, in a cathartic and uplifting way – and I think it will give audiences a chance to laugh about how ridiculous and complex these cinematic universes have become.

What do you hope audiences leave Knight of the Bat: the Act of Assemblers talking about?

Ideally, like every person who’s ever written a sequel, I hope they leave talking about how it was just as good as the first one.

But really, I hope they appreciate the great performances, as well as all the pop culture jokes and topical commentary. I also hope people talk about how there should be more sequels to other plays. I may be biased, but I think it’s a cool thing. And I hope they talk about how it inspires them to see more fringe shows. This festival is such a magical thing. Seeing just one show is counter-intuitive to the Fringe spirit. Make it a marathon. The Fringe only happens once a year in Halifax, anyway.

Why should someone come to see Knight of the Bat: the Act of Assemblers?

In these weird, turbulent times, theatre’s more essential than ever to give audiences a chance to laugh and have a good time while enjoying an experience they could never have at home.

Also, our creative team comprises some of the best, kindest, and most talented artists around, and their work deserves to be seen. If you want to see just one show – and you shouldn’t, as the Fringe is dope; see 100 shows – and have a good time, I think this could be it.

Again, no worries if you haven’t seen the first one, as we’ll make sure you have all the info you need to have a good time. And if you’re like me and love to watch superhero movies, this is a great story to keep in the back of your head to help give yourself a chuckle whenever you start to feel the fatigue.

Knight of the Bat: the Act of Assemblers plays as part of the 2023 Halifax Fringe Festival at the Bus Sto Theatre on September 4-10. Visit the Halifax Fringe ticket outlet for tickets and information.

The Halifax Fringe Festival returns from August 31 through September 10, with more than 60 productions taking place at venues across the city.

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