Classical theater company [CTC] Executive Artistic Director John Johnston has launched a new venture to benefit the CTC.
He combined his two passions – classical theater and role-playing – to produce a web series titled Be or RPG (RPG is the acronym for role-playing game). Johnston has been an avid tabletop role-playing gamer since he was twelve years old and particularly loves Dungeons & Dragons – the most popular RPG of all time.
In recent years, a housebound population and the hit Netflix show, stranger things, thrust RPGs – and Dungeons & Dragons in particular – into the public eye, creating a growing interest in role-playing games. Drawing inspiration from the popularity of RPGs and already existing web RPG series like critical role and Rating 20 or the podcast network The glass cannonJohnston followed suit, but as a way to raise money for the Classical Theater Company.
“I have seen the success critical role raised money for the nonprofit 826LA for the past seven years and thought maybe I could do the same for CTC on a smaller scale,” Johnston said.critical role and Rating 20 are the benchmark for RPG web series. They have professional actors playing extended D&D campaigns, and it’s thrilling to watch. Because they use professionals, it goes way beyond just watching people play D&D, it really is interactive, improvisational storytelling at its best. You don’t need to know how to play the game at all to enjoy the show, the mechanics of it are completely secondary to the gripping story and character development.”
There were several factors beyond the popularity of the web RPG series that drew Johnston to this endeavor, first and foremost a desire to develop a creative new way to raise money for the Classical Theater Company. Be or RPG does not replace any of the CTC’s already established fundraising programs and is, in fact, a completely separate entity from the theater company. “For various business reasons, it was easier to keep Be or RPG separate from CTC,” Johnston said. “We wanted to be sure that Be was designed outside of the CTC, but for the benefit of the theatre.”
Be or RPG brought in a cast of actors and crew all affiliated with the Classical Theater Company. Seven of the ten cast and crew members are current or former CTC Company artists, and the other three have all worked at CTC in the past. It was important to Johnston to recruit people who were not only talented and committed, but who had ties to the CTC.
One of the aspects of Be or RPG What separates it from other RPG web series and podcasts is that the Dungeons & Dragon campaign draws many of its characters and plots from classic drama literature. The setting of the story is one created by Johnston himself – the world of Magadrinn. It’s a land of typical fantasy food – wizards, dragons, elves and knights – but with the aforementioned classic twist. The group of heroes may come across Hamlet, Lady Macbeth or Titania the fairy queen.
Be or RPG performs live on streaming site Twitch on Monday nights at 7:00 p.m. Central Time. During these episodes, like a telethon, the cast reminds viewers to donate to the Classic Theater Company. If they do so during the live episode, they are entered into a lucky draw to win a prize provided in part by Bedrock City Comic Company at the end of the episode.
For those who miss the episode live on Twitch Monday night, it will be uploaded to Be or RPGYouTube channel, in addition to all major podcast platforms in an audio format the following Friday.
“We really hope that Be or RPG is gaining a foothold in the web RPG series market because it has the potential to appeal to a wide audience – not just fantasy or RPG fans, but classic literature and theater fans as well,” Johnston said.