A couple weeks ago, I got an email from a guy named Cameron McNary. At first glance, I thought it was spam. It was an advertisement of some sort and one line of text at the top that said, “I thought you might find this of interest.” I’m glad I didn’t delete his email, because as it turned out, Cameron McNary has an amazing gift when it comes to understatement.
This email was about a play he had written called “Of Dice and Men”, a story about a group of D&D players and what happens to them when one of them gets deployed to Iraq. It sounded interesting, but then I hit one quote from Cameron that stopped me dead in my tracks: “I always thought I played games for the games themselves but when he enlisted I realized I actually play them for the people – for the connections you make and the friendships that are formed when you play.” I thought of all the good times I’ve had with my friends over the years around the gaming table, how much I miss the ones I don’t play with anymore, and how at home I feel when it’s finally game night – and I knew deep in my soul he was right.
I’ve got to see this thing.
Sadly (for me, anyway), it’s being premiered at PAX PRIME. In Seattle, WA. Where I am NOT. It’s apparently the first time a “serious” play has ever been performed at a gaming convention (no, the costume contest doesn’t count), much less premiered. That’s pretty rad.
For those of you who ARE in Seattle, WA on September 3, get thee to the “Unicorn Room” of the Washington State Convention Center at 7:30 pm. You will do what I cannot, and support these fine people. Or I will SMASH.
Of course, as effective a sales tactic as physical violence is, I can’t sell this thing nearly as well as Cameron himself:
Cameron was kind enough to answer a few questions for us:
CH: What is “Of Dice and Men”, and why is it important to gamers?
CM: “Of Dice and Men” is a full-length play, written by Cameron McNary, that will be receiving its world premiere at PAX Prime, Friday, September 3rd 2010. It’s about a group of 30-something D&D players, and what happens when one of them enlists to go to Iraq. It has been called “The most brilliant piece of non-Wizards of the Coast Dungeons and Dragons related material since the Dead Alewives.”
It’s important to gamers because it portrays gamers as the kind of people you want to be around, and the kind you want to be. It’s a hip, very funny, deeply touching play that challenges the stereotypes about gamers and gaming. It is geek art without the self-loathing. If you’ve ever wanted to take your mom or your girlfriend or your grandad to something and say, “Look: THIS is why I play,” and have them *get* it, now you can.
Also, unlike the images of what “a play about D&D” might normally conjure up, it is very, very good.
CH: Are there any plans to make this experience available for those of us who can’t see the event live, like DVD or downloadable video?
CM: Eventually, yes, in some form.
CH: Any other plans in the works from Critical Threat Theatre?
CM: We plan to take the exposure and fundraising that comes from this premiere and bring this play to regional theatres across the country, and eventually, to Off-Broadway. We are also taking open submissions for scripts that match our mission of “Great Plays. About Geeks.”
CH: How can our readers get involved in this project?
CM: They can donate money. We’re currently running a capital campaign on www.indiegogo.com (http://www.indiegogo.com/ODaM) where you can become a Critical Threat Rot Grub for just $5. In addition to the various perks you can get (you should see what we’re offering our Frost Giant Jarls), when this show comes to your town, you can point to it and say you were part of making it happen.
If you know of a script we should produce, please send it to us. If you or someone you know is in a position to produce this play professionally in your town, we’ll be happy to forward you the script. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CH: You guys are clearly gamers. Tell us about how you got started gaming, and how it’s affected your lives over the years.
CM: Many of the people involved in this project are gamers, but a lot of them are just theatre professionals who have become fans of the play. My wife — our Managing Director — won’t touch twelve-siders with a ten-foot pole. Many of our Seattle actors have no gaming experience whatsoever. Our commitment to making quality theatre is just as strong as our commitment to making theatre about geeks.
As for myself, I’ve been playing D&D since my cousin Seamus ran me through Against the Giants and the Lost Tomb of Martek when I was eight. Since then, my tastes have expanded to include just about anything you can play — every tabletop RPG ever, CCGs, videogames, boardgames. Like a lot of gamers, gaming has been the source of some of the best friendships I’ve ever had, and sometimes the only friendships I’ve had. Whatever town I was in, whatever shape my life was in, I knew if I could find a gaming store, I had a home. There have been times in my life when that was incredibly important.
Thanks to Cameron for tipping us off about this event. I’m incredibly jealous of those of you who can make it.
Once again, here’s where to be:
September 3rd 2010
“Unicorn Room” of the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle, Washington.
Please, please, please go and support them. Or donate, which you can do here. Or both. Yes, that one. Just help them out. They rock.