Welcome to Elfland

We are less than two weeks out from our 18th production. I am positively thrilled to direct an original adaptation of two classic English Folktales, penned by Steve Schroer of Hardcover Theatre: Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came (with a heavy influence from Robert Browning's eponymous poem from 1855) and a lesser known tale called "The Red Ettin".

Childe Roland single-handedly brings our death-per-show average up to an impressive 4.1.

It's no secret that Six Elements productions are characterized with no small amount of theatrical violence. We're very proud to be the only company in the Twin Cities area with a resident fight director who is a Certified Teacher with the Society of American Fight Directors, our very own Mike Lubke. We crunched the numbers and determined that we have  averaged 3.3 character deaths per show. Childe Roland single-handedly brings our death-per-show average up to an impressive 4.1. (Discounting Human Combat Chess, our annual fight show, that average jumps to a formidable 6.1 deaths per show).

We hope to see you in the audience for one of our bloodiest shows yet, as we delve into the nature of morality, duty, heroes, and villains. 

HCC - Meet the Kings for the 2016 All-Star Game

Happy Opening Night! As we get ready for the Midwest Combat Chess All-Star Series, meet the Kings lined up for tonight’s match.

Human Combat Chess 2016: The All-Star Series runs April 29th through May 7th. Buy tickets now at hcc2016.brownpapertickets.com


Name: Nathaniel Nesheim-Case
Home Team: Roses
Board Side: Black

What is your favorite weapon/weapon choice? 
NNC: Sword and Shield, because I always like to see what the other person is doing first- Defense is my first name. Which is why I pick Black side whenever I can, and let the other team take the first move.

What is your favorite part of Human Combat Chess? 
NNC: The strategy, and the changes from conventional chess- the randomness that real people fighting brings.

What do you like best about your team? 
NNC: The Roses? It’s a bunch of really intelligent people. They know what they’re doing and they know what they’re getting into.

Looking ahead to the All-Star Series, will your approach be any different? What are you looking forward to, or going to watch out for? 
NNC: It’ll be interesting to play with people on my board side that I don’t know very well. I know that these are the best players we have in the Midwest Combat Chess League, and playing the strengths of those under me against the weaknesses of the opponents’ team is nothing new. I look forward to seeing the fights.

 

Name: Noah Stein
Home Team: Dragons
Board Side: White

What is your favorite weapon/weapon choice? 
Stein: I am always a fan of the unarmed fight. I mean, me personally, I’d choose the quarterstaff. Something about that weapon- there’s no easy yield, like there is with a sword, but with quarterstaff you know that someone’s yielding because they’re hurt. You know when the fight is over. But one of the things that I would do if I had a team for the whole season would be concentrating on Unarmed, because no matter your weapon choice, you always can use those skills.

What is your favorite part of Human Combat Chess? 
Stein: The competitive nature of the fights, honestly. It’s not about which team is better, it’s about an individual’s ability. Seeing people work together as teams is still a foreign concept to me since coming from the Shogi league. It’s all about the glory when everyone else gets off the board and it’s just you and the other person.

What do you like best about your team?
Stein: They’re efficient. The fact that they have been described by some as a rag-tag group of fighters, they’ve been clumped together by various backgrounds, they remind me of my old companions from Shogi, where the kings play chess, and the fighters fight. And that’s a philosophy very much shared by the Dragons.

Looking ahead to the All-Star Series, will your approach be any different? What are you looking forward to, or going to watch out for? 
Stein: This will be my first actual competitive MCCL game as a King. I’ve studied some chess in preparation in order to find an opening that I feel is reliable, but more than anything I’m trusting in the fact that I know what my fighters are capable of, and they’ll get the job done.

Company Update

As we prepare for our 2016 season, we are also experiencing a shift in company structure. Tess Kean, who is currently working as the stage manager for our fall production She Kills Monsters, has made the decision to stay with us as a stage manager, but not as a producing company member. She writes,

I have decided, with the help of my fellow company members, that to make better use of my skills, I would make a better associate Stage Manager and long term volunteer rather than a company member of Six Elements Theatre.

I greatly love this company, and for that reason I would rather my skills be used to their best as a Stage Manager rather than a producing member. I am resigning my position as a full company member.

I hope to continue to work with Six Elements Theatre as needed as a contractor, or as the company requests on a show by show basis, and as a long term volunteer/ boots on the ground assistant.

It has been wonderful being a company member, and I am looking forward to my new role with Six Elements.
— Tess Kean

We would like to thank Tess for all of her energy and hard work as a company member, and look forward to working with her in a newly defined role in the future!

Dungeons and Dragons, as Research

A Band of Heroes

Last night I got to sit down with some of the talented people from our upcoming production of She Kills Monsters for what we've been euphemistically calling "dramaturgical research".  Since our fall show is all about the role-playing game, Dungeons and Dragons, we thought it would be helpful to give all of our actors a taste of what the game was like back in 1996, by playing 2nd Edition Advance Dungeons & Dragons, just like the characters in our upcoming show play.

Some of them were familiar with later iterations of the game, which is now in it's fifth edition, so it was great fun to take a look at how the rules of the game have changed in the last 20 years.  I got to teach players about the byzantine and esoteric rules mechanisms that I learned when I first started playing with my brothers twenty years ago, such as THAC0, Non-Weapon Proficiencies, and Hit Dice.

Polyhedral Dice

While the rules of the game seem odd after 20 years of refinement and re-design, the core of the game stays the same: it's about telling a fun story with a group of friends.  And on that metric, this game is still a fantastic success.  

I prepared an assortment of characters for the players to choose from and dropped them into  a small town in a fantasy land filled with mysterious happenings and strange creatures to investigate.  The band of heroes we wound up with included:

Jenn Sisko (Evil Tina) playing Fiss, a Half-Elven Wizard

Ash Coillberg (Farrah) playing Amani, a Fighter/Cleric of Balinor, the God of the Hunt

Mason Tyer (Miles) playing "Stom", a Dwarven Thief

Tess Kean (Stage Manager) playing Filima, a Halfling Fighter/Thief

and Collan Simmons (Steve) playing Mikhail, a Human Bard

Our intrepid (and frequently hapless) heroes set out to investigate strange lights in a cave south of town.  They were expecting bandits, so they were surprised when Fiss and Filima stumbled on some undead pirates instead.  In a fierce battle, the wizard summoned a rolling ball of fire, Amani laid waste with her mighty bow, and Mikhail sang a song and made some pretty lights.  Because that's what bards do.

We had a great time, and the dice were (as always) fickle.  Amani, went from falling flat on her face while trying to keep watch for bad guys to using a trick shot with her bow to knock a stalactite down on a skeletal pirate.  Stom and Mikhail decided to duel over a magical haversack by throwing knives at each other and both missed by a mile.  The players bonded over fighting monsters, squabbled over the  treasure, and learned why you should always check the secret door for traps before you open it

If you've ever been curious about Dungeons or Dragons or other role-playing games, I can't recommend it enough.  If you are scared of learning a lot of complicated rules, just remember that the heart of the game is just about telling a story and having fun with your friends; everything else is secondary.  Head to your friendly local game store and let them know you're curious - most stores run frequent organized games and are always open to  new players.

She Kills Monsters opens October 30th, and we'd love to see you there.