From the screen to the stage: Urban Theater presents X Files: Resist or Serve


James Hill

Leo Danzig as Cigarette Smoking Man

Students, If you are anywhere near the gumption theater during a D period this term, do not fret! There is not, in fact, mass murder or torture being conducted on campus. The screams and intense music you might hear is just part of a typical rehearsal of this year’s winter production, X Files: Resist or Serve. Frances Evens, an Urban performing arts teacher, is directing a special rendition of the tv show as a theater production. The process of taking an action-packed TV show with an abundance of paranormal activity to the stage is complicated and takes lots of creativity.

For those unfamiliar, the X Files is a sci-fi drama created by Chris Carter that follows FBI special agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) as they endeavor to investigate the X Files; a series of unsolved cases that involve paranormal phenomena, and try to find out the Truth about paranormal activity and the government’s involvement. The show is not just sci-fi alien conspiracies, it’s also about the deep connections between characters and what it means to believe and the search for truth. The show ran for 9 seasons, premiering in 1993, and this January, a tenth season revival has been released.

The show sparked one of the first fandoms, a movie spin-off and spin-off show called The Lone Gunman. The show also reversed gender stereotypes, with Dana Scully playing a sceptic and Fox Mulder playing a believer.

Taking a TV show this complicated and with so many special effects and creating a theatrical production is filled with challenges. Frances Evens, the director, told me, “There’s 42 scenes in 48 pages, and it jumps back and forth and goes all over, from Kazakhstan to New York City, to Mulder’s office, to the FBI building, to the hospital, and back to the woods, and of course, in a TV show that’s not a challenging thing, but to adapt that to the stage… is hugely challenging.” Another question that’s come up is the issue of creating a close up: “in the actual X Files, many of the scenes are closeups, two people close, face to face, and in the theater that s a very hard thing to recreate, or to figure out how exactly to represent that closeness, when in fact you can’t zoom in on those actors,” Evens says. Through creative use of the set, sound design, lighting, and the staging of actors, the cast and crew are overcoming these obstacles.

The play is based on two episodes of season five: Patient X and The Red and the Black. During this part of the X Files plot, “Mulder is having a crisis of faith,” Evens says. He is questioning his belief in the existence of extraterrestrials. Evens says she chose to show this part of the plot because “it was a more interesting dramatic situation to see him in.”

Performances of Resist or Serve will run from Tuesday, February 23rd to Saturday, February 27th. For complete details, visit the Urban school website.  Tickets will be available to the public February 16th.