Being a freshman in college is scary. Having the legend of a serial killer stalking you is even scarier. The main character of the play “Hookman” is dealing with both. “Hookman” is the spring production being put on by Cal Poly’s Theatre and Dance Department, premiering May 10 at 8 p.m. in the Alex and Faye Spanos Theatre. The show will run Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. until May 19.
Written by Lauren Lee, the show discusses the struggles that many college freshman face, and some that are unique to one particular character. The show follows University of Connecticut student Lexi as she struggles to fit in with her roommate, find her place on campus, and deal with grief over losing her best friend. Tackling issues like rape, assault, drinking and death, “Hookman” is described as an existential slasher comedy.
History senior Hunter White plays Hookman, the titular role. Hookman is a serial killer myth who comes to life in Lexi’s mind.
“The show is about a lot of things,” White said. “It’s about grief, and guilt and responsibility. It appears to be about one thing, while being about something else.”
White also plays two other male characters, a theme that he said is important to the show. By playing all of these male roles, White questions the purpose of the casting, and what being male means.
“I’ve had a very interesting time figuring out whether or not I am sort of a phallic image, I am just man in sort of a capital ‘M’ sense,” White said.
This is Director Mark Sitko’s debut directing production at Cal Poly. A Cal Poly theatre alumni, Sitko is excited to return to the department and see the growth and development the major has had since his time at the school. He sees the show as relevant to the campus, and the current generation of students attending.
“The play happens to talk about what it is to go off to college, how hard it is to find a family and real friends there,” Sitko said. “If you’re in those situations and something bad happens to you, what do you do and how do you handle that? I think this play looks at that.”
The way the show is being staged are new and unique to campus by having the audience sit onstage to watch the show, creating a sense of intimacy and realism.
“This feels different than a lot of shows most universities are doing in that it is written by someone really close to your age, and it has a youthful age,” Sitko said.
There are more special effects to bring the show’s slasher theme to life. While other productions have also had blood and gore to them, this particular show features these effects in a more modern, pop-culture-esque style. Sitko said the author is asking a bigger question: “Is it okay to take violence lightly?”
The students’ roles
Like all of the mainstage productions, student involvement is crucial to the show. From the actors onstage to those building the set, the Learn by Doing attitude is in full effect. For this production, half of the design team is being led by students. The lighting and sound design for the show are created by students.
This will be theatre arts senior Beatriz Pereira’s final show at Cal Poly. This is her first time designing the lighting for a mainstage production, after four years working with the technical side of the department.
“[The show] is really important for our campus, and what we go through,” Pereira said. “It means so much to me to do a show that actually means something.”
The students who are cast in the production auditioned at the end of Winter 2018 and have spent the last several weeks in late-night rehearsals. The consensus amongst the cast is that this show tells a story that Cal Poly, and many college campuses, should be telling.
“When I first read this play I was so drawn to it, partially because the experience was so relatable, the experience of being very lost as a freshman and not feeling like you found your place yet, while everyone else has,” theatre arts sophomore Zoe Fassler said.
Tickets are available for purchase, $20 for General Admission, $12 discounted at pacslo.org.