Art in the dark: The Flashlight Play

A group of local actors rehearse for "The Flashlight Play," written by USF graduate Kevin Wesson (left). ORACLE PHOTO/JACKIE BENITEZ

A USF graduate has created a play unlike any other. Audience members will follow a trail of glow sticks to an unlit theater, use the password “mungy” to enter and be responsible for choosing the ending of the show.

The audience will sit in complete darkness with zero set lights, as the actors highlight each other with whatever glowing object they can carry.

Kevin Wesson, a 2016 USF graduate, is hoping to highlight the grim reality that most young artists face upon graduation: Creating art is extremely expensive, and thus unfeasible for most, despite their passion.

Wesson said he wrote the play as a direct criticism of the venues and places around Tampa that are not accessible for students.

“I came up with the idea when I was back in school at USF,” Wesson said. “None of us have money to rent out spaces and none of the spaces around town, for the most part, are affordable for young artists or artists trying to put out new work. So we came up with the idea to throw our own secret show. Just break into a venue and do it ourselves because we’re going to put on art whether money ties us down or not.”

“The Flashlight Play” is a unique theater experience running March 30 to April 9 at the Silver Meteor Art Gallery in Tampa, which Wesson said is ideal because the owner rents it out for $100 a week, mere “change” compared to the other venues in the area.

In the play, three actors sneak into a theater at night and put on their own work without turning on any stage lights. The audience is “snuck in” and warned to not put anything on social media that could alert the police they were there.

The only lighting will be glow sticks, lanterns, a laser pointer and flashlights, which will all be brought in by the actors throughout the play. Attendees are encouraged to wear all black as well to add to the effect.

The audience watches as the actors spook over noises from behind the stage and give detailed instructions on what to do if they are “busted.” Then, they are pulled into the story as they are asked by a character named Val to write a “mad libs style” ending themselves.

“It’s a play within a play,” said Brianna Larson, the director of the play. “You see what they’re there to present, you see all the stories, but the best part is watching these three people have to deal with what they’ve done and deal with the people they’ve brought there.”

Riddled with profanities, the show is written as a satire of the art world in the U.S. Wesson said he hopes older generations might realize the theater, which he says they proclaim is dying, is not being made approachable for younger artists.

“I’m hoping the audience walks away with sympathy for younger artists and sympathy for lower ticket prices,” Wesson said.

Two of the three actors, Hayden Baker and Johnny Garde, are USF alumni and the third, Taliana Bosio, is currently a theater major at USF.

The show is free, and runs for 50 minutes from 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and at 8 p.m. on Sunday.