I didn’t set out to write a play about giant, hairy beasts in the forest.
Yes, I’ve always been obsessed by Bigfoot. But who isn’t? Well. Okay, maybe you aren’t. And some of your friends. And your family, too.
Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure a lot of people out there aren’t obsessed with Sasquatch. But you’re probably obsessed by something strange, right? UFOs. True crime. Conspiracy theories. Royal scandals. Harlequin romances. TikTok.
We all have our fixations. Mine just happens to be the prospect that a race (not just an animal) of giant, hairy beings dwell in the wilds of our world. I’ve always been fervent in this belief, too. It’s not up for debate. For me, the proof and the truth is out there. Cue music.
Still, why a play about Sasquatch? Where’s the drama? Where’s the conflict? What’s the inciting incident that leads our protagonist to oppose the obstacles in rising action towards a climax of realization? Can you tell I teach writing for a living? Seriously, though, how exactly do you tell a story about Sasquatch for the stage? So, for a while, my obsession just stayed an obsession and didn’t really inform my creative practice.
But then, in 2019, I started listening to podcasts, specifically a podcast called Sasquatch Chronicles. On my morning commute to work, I became addicted to this show; it hooked me like no other podcast around. Hosted by the downbeat and forthright Wes Germer, the show is essentially a series interviews with those who have encountered Sasquatch, Bigfoot and other cryptid phenomena. Though it examines and offers some analysis of the phenomena, the show really bills itself as “a safe-haven for witnesses to share their encounters.”
What grabbed me about this podcast, and the multitude of those interviewed each week, was the earnestness of every one of the eyewitnesses. No one has ever seemed to be playing any sort of hoax or treats the phenomena as a joke. Indeed, I got the sense that the majority of those interviewed really didn’t want to have an encounter. But now they had, and there was no going back. They all had an experience and it had changed them in an irrevocable and sometimes disturbing way. No matter what you believe, it’s hard not to be intrigued by the voices of these people.
The other intriguing thing about these eyewitness stories was the context and life history that went along with their accounts. It’s true that Wes has interviewed so-called professional ‘Squatch hunters like Russell Acord, Todd Standing, and Matt Moneymaker. But, largely, the bulk of the people interviewed have been faceless individuals Wes only identifies only by first name. Living with their families or on their own, in places all across North America, these eyewitnesses really seem to have nothing to gain from telling their stories. Some have spoken about experiences they’ve recently had. But just as many recall events that have taken place many years ago that they were perhaps afraid to share.
And it was in that word—sharing—that I finally started to find a way into what this play is about. Good drama is all about telling a story. And when I sat down to write Creature I realized I had to throw away some of the lessons I’d been taught, and have taught to others, about playwriting. Maybe this story didn’t need rising action or a climax. Maybe this story was all about recalling a particularly strange incident from my childhood.
So, maybe, I needed just to write this story as if I were sitting across from you, the audience. In front of us is a campfire. It’s late at night. We’re deep in the woods. And I tell you about that time. Years ago. The same kind of night. The same kind of woods. And then I heard it…
I hope you’ll tune into my production of Creature at the Hamilton Fringe from July 15-25 and ask yourself what you believe.