RADIO HOUR EPISODE 13: TROLL by Matthew Ivan Bennett receives its world premiere in a co-production with KUER’S RadioWest on December 13, 2018 featuring Olivia Custodio, Lily Hye Soo Dixon and Jay Perry, with original music by Dave Evanoff, eFoley by Jennifer Freed and direction and sound design by Cheryl Cluff. Click here on Thursday, December 13 at 9am to listen to TROLL live.

So, the last episode I wrote for RADIO HOUR was called STAND. It was a dystopian thriller I began writing in the fall of 2017. Naturally, it absorbed issues of the day – from nationalism to racism to sexism.

Each of those “-isms” continue to press down on our collective consciousness, but with TROLL I’ve latched onto sexism in particular and written a story about an internet troll who – presto chango – becomes a real troll. To free himself, he has to convince a feminist to fall in love with him. At the holidays.

Unlike STAND, this episode uses (dark) comedy to get at something serious. The news has been so heavy lately that I made myself deal in humor, which I feel is critically needed right now to give us the emotional space to change. Laughing at yourself is, I believe, a first step in becoming a bigger person.

Also, taking trolls too seriously is a bad way of dealing with trolls. Not that we should ever laugh at trolls. On the contrary, it’s important to first see them as fellow humans. But humor is connective. By itself it’s a sort of common ground. If two people can find something to laugh about – especially if that thing is something they both share – then there’s room for friendship.

The proto-story that TROLL is based on, that plot in which a bad man gets transformed and must be re-humanized through the love of a woman, is … well, problematic. (Despite being a hugely popular story-form. Think “Beauty and the Beast.” Many werewolf and vampire movies. Even films like “Groundhog Day” have roots in the form.) Besides having a silent presumed moralism that says men need to be civilized by women, which is both insulting to men and unfairly demanding of women, it makes women into prizes.

So why did I choose this story-form for TROLL? Because the form, although popular, has done a lot of damage. Because we only learn about pain by looking at it closely. Because, sometimes, socially corrosive story-forms only can be stopped through satire – which I do partly by making the fairy-tale narrator a character (played by a woman). In short, we get past the pain by laughing at it.

All that being said, my personal brand of humor is a mash-up of slapstick and intellect. So don’t think TROLL  will be all smartypants. I’d say it’s 50% brain-ish and 50% “tripping on banana peels.”

Please join us for the magical realist yarn of a woman kidnapped by a troll and bent on her freedom, even if that means stabbing the troll right in his computer screen.

From the author of EPISODES 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, 10, 11 and 12: LAVENDER & EXILE, FRANKENSTEIN, ALICE, SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE BLUE CARBUNCLE, GRIMM, OTHERWHERE, YULETIDE and STAND, respectively; as well as BLOCK 8, DI ESPERIENZA, MESA VERDE, ERIC(A), A/VERSION OF EVENTS (Plan-B); A NIGHT WITH THE FAMILY (Omaha Community Playhouse, PYGmalion); and co-author of THE WORST THING I COULD HAVE DONE (Sackerson). Matt has spent this year working on his latest, ART & CLASS, locally with Plan-B and PTC and in Milwaukee with The Constructivists.

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