Live Five Facts: Exploring isolation and mental health with vampires

Sam Kruger plays Scud the Vampire his one-person play 'Bat Brains or let’s explore mental illness with vampires,' running from April 18 to 28, 2024 at The Refinery. (Supplied / Photo courtesy of Sam Kruger)

The next show in the Live Five lineup is a fantastical comedy — with a heaping helping of vampires mixed in.

Bat Brains or let’s explore mental illness with vampires is the final production in the Live Five lineup this season, running from April 18 to 28 at The Refinery.

Co-creator and solo performer Sam Kruger spoke to PodSask about the upcoming play — here are five key words to define the new production:

  1. Personal – The show, which follows Scud the vampire (Kruger), isolated and living alone for more than 50 years. Scud is suddenly forced to deal with his own concerns regarding being alone and being with other people when someone comes knocking on his door to deliver a pizza.

    Kruger went through his own mental struggles a few years ago, and never planned to bring them onto a stage. But as he began exploring the story he wanted to tell with Scud the vampire, Kruger said he realized this could be a way to share his own experiences through comedy and theatre.

    “I still hadn’t really dealt with this thing that happened, and it became this rabbit hole of how I thought about myself and my own mind,” he said. “My experiences have become a big part of the show, reflecting on this thing that had happened to me.”

  2. Vampire – When asked about why he wanted to use an undead bloodsucker as the main character in his play, Kruger’s answer was twofold.

    First, Kruger said vampires themselves are known for being essentially immortal — and the idea of what you would do with only yourself and your mind for company was part of what he wanted to explore in this show.

    Second, he said there is something about using unreal creatures that creates a better vehicle for expressing thoughts that would be otherwise difficult to reconcile.

    “I’ve always been attracted to fantastical creatures and monsters to express things,” Kruger said. “If you provide a layer, a level of distance, sometimes you can have a little more freedom in exploring things, especially things that are quite heavy.”

  3. Surreal – One of the biggest artistic challenges, Kruger said, was establishing portions of the mind — a non-physical space — on a stage.

    The show has no set pieces and few props, with much of the setting created through the use of numerous light and sound cues.

    Kruger said finding non-literal ways to interpret both literal and metaphysical settings has been an exciting process.

  4. Expanded – This final version of the show has been multiple years coming, with COVID-19 and other obstacles preventing a final version from getting near a stage.

    Kruger said the original version of the show was less than one hour — an ideal target to enter Fringe festivals and the like — but the play felt a little too “rushed” to properly cover the themes of isolation he wanted to explore.

    So with the help of his partner S.E. Grummett, the show was fleshed out to a more robust 90 minutes and brought to life with creative light and sound cues from the creative team.

  5. Community – Kruger said his favourite part of putting Bat Brains together has been getting to work with a team of artists to bring the show to life.

    As he puts it, this is the first time he’s ever had a full artistic team behind one of his own personal creative projects, and he lauded the talented community that has helped assemble his vision.

    It’s fitting that the main themes of the show are that of isolation and togetherness, and finding connection — it’s how Bat Brains came together, and it’s the message that Kruger hopes the audience takes away from his comedy.

    “Ultimately, the show is about community,” he said. “My biggest hope is for people to leave and feel like getting together, being together, being in a community is a deeply important thing to maintain and participate in.”

Bat Brains or let’s explore mental illness with vampires runs from April 18 to 28 at The Refinery. Tickets can be found at livefive.ca.

Recent Posts