Classical Theatre Company Announces New Benefit Web Series

To Be or RPG is a Dungeons & Dragons web series that streams live online Monday  nights to raise funds for Classical Theatre Company.

By: Jul. 21, 2022

Classical Theatre Company Announces New Benefit Web Series

Classical Theatre Company [CTC] Executive Artistic Director John Johnston has started a new venture to benefit CTC.

He combined his two passions - classical theatre and role playing games - to produce a web series called To Be or RPG (RPG is the acronym for role playing game). Johnston has been an avid tabletop role-playing game enthusiast since the age of twelve and is particularly fond of Dungeons & Dragons - the most popular RPG of all time.

In recent years, a homebound population and the smash-hit Netflix show, Stranger Things, thrust RPGs - and Dungeons & Dragons in particular - into the public eye, creating a surging interest in role-playing games. Taking his cue from the popularity of RPGs and already existing RPG web series like Critical Role and Dimension 20 or the podcast network The Glass Cannon, Johnston followed suit, but as a way to raise funds for the Classical Theatre Company.

"I saw how successful Critical Role has been in raising money for the nonprofit 826LA over the last seven years and thought that I might be able to do the same for CTC on a smaller scale," said Johnston. "Critical Role and Dimension 20 are the gold standard for RPG web series. They have professional actors playing extended D&D campaigns, and it is thrilling to watch. Because they use professionals it goes well beyond just watching some folks play D&D, it's really interactive and improvised storytelling at its absolute 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 compelling story and character development."

There were several factors beyond the popularity of the RPG webs series that drew Johnston to this venture, first and foremost was the desire to develop a new creative way to raise funds for Classical Theatre Company. To Be or RPG does not supplant any of CTC's already established fundraising programs, and is, in fact, a completely separate entity from the theatre company. "For a variety of business reasons, it was easiest to keep To Be or RPG separate from CTC," Johnston said. "We wanted to be sure that To Be was designed apart from CTC, but for the benefit of the theatre."

To Be or RPG has brought on a cast of actors and a crew all affiliated with Classical Theatre Company. Seven of the ten cast and crew are current or former CTC Company Artists, and the other three have all worked at CTC in the past. It was important for Johnston to bring on individuals who were not only talented and committed, but who had ties to CTC.

One of the aspects of To Be or RPG brings that separates it from other RPG web series and podcasts is that the Dungeons & Dragon campaign draws many of its characters and storylines from classical dramatic literature. The setting for the story is one Johnston himself created - the world of Magadrinn. It is a land of typical fantasy fare - wizards, dragons, elves, and knights - but with the aforementioned classical twist. The party of heroes may cross paths with the likes of Hamlet, Lady Macbeth, or Titania the Fairy Queen.

To Be or RPG performs live on the streaming site Twitch on Monday nights at 7:00pm Central Time. During these episodes, like a telethon, the cast reminds viewers to donate to the Classical Theatre Company. If they do so during the live episode, they are entered into a drawing to win a prize provided in-part by Bedrock City Comic Company at the end of the episode.

For those who miss the live episode on Twitch on Monday night, it will be uploaded to To Be or RPG's YouTube channel in addition to all major podcast platforms in an audio format on the following Friday.

"We really hope that To Be or RPG gets a foothold in the RPG web series market as it has the potential to appeal to a broad audience - not just fantasy or RPG enthusiasts, but classical literature and theatre fans as well," said Johnston.


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