BWW Review: Pollard Company Members Roll the Dice with D20 To Curtain Podcast
The Pollard Theatre in Guthrie may be dark right now, but the creativity of the artists continues to flourish. Pollard Company members and contributing artists have started a new podcast. D20 to Curtain combines the passions of self-proclaimed theatre geeks with their love for Dungeons & Dragons. The live role-play tabletop game has been popular for decades. Pollard Artistic Director W. Jerome Stevenson was first introduced to the game by his wife, longtime player Jennifer Stevenson. Together the pair recruited their theatre friends, fellow geeks, and imaginative creators, on two prior DND campaigns. Wanting to bring the action to the theatre and DND communities, they launched D20 to Curtain. Since the pandemic has put a hold on live theatre, it's also created an issue for games like this that require in-person contact and collaboration.
The group has found a compromise via video chat, and while the format involves some translation, the cast is proving adaptable and creating a new campaign exclusively for the podcast listeners. The first two episodes feature a live play of the game, and future "behind the curtain" episodes are planned. They also plan to incorporate more theatrical elements, input from listeners, and even guests on the show.
W. Jerome Stevenson serves as Dungeon Master, or DM. Jennifer Stevenson is Eula. Jared Blount is Jaide, Jodi Nestander is Lapis, Timothy Stewart is Ally, and Kara-Lynn Neel is Nesrin. Composer Louise Goldberg provides original music that elevates the podcast to full-fledged, production quality storytelling.
Dungeons & Dragons is a complex game, involving dice rolling, battle strategy, world building, character development, acting, scene narration, and improv. Each participant has to read the room and the scenario unfolding, and decide what their character will do in the moment. A deep understanding of who their character is seems imperative, and they rely on the DM for guidance and direction. DM Stevenson creates a beautiful fantasy setting, describing a tavern, the patrons in it, and the action as it happens. The cast must react naturally as their characters would, and provide descriptive direction for what they're doing and planning to do. The DM also helps guide them with dice rolls, and the outcomes determine the success of each move. It's a high-stakes game, and each player in this cast is invested in their character and role in the scene.
It's a complex process, but this podcast is easy to follow, even for the truest DND beginners. Including myself in those ranks, I am certainly no expert on DND, so I asked a close friend who plays here in OKC to listen to the podcast and provide some feedback. She says "The D20 to Curtain cast has done a great job on the production value and world building of this podcast. Adding music also puts it leaps and bounds above other DND podcasts. It seems like they've omitted the discussions of rules and explaining the more intricate details of play so you can concentrate on the role-playing. It's exactly what I'd expect from actors, and it's lovely." Thank you to Lynna Forbus for the insight, and for answering all my questions! I owe you more than one post-pandemic coffee date.
DND is truly intricate. It relies heavily on imagination and the members of each campaign must support one another as they navigate the increasingly difficult scenarios. It's easy to see why the game is so exciting to get into and addictive once you start. This podcast is great fun, and it's brought back to me a little bit of the theatre world that I love and miss so much. It also provides listeners a chance to hear their favorite local voices again. The show, while professionally produced and polished, still feels natural, like a group of friends sitting around a campfire, telling stories and jumping into the action with their take on the tale. D20 to Curtain just may make a DND fan (or player? Maybe) out of me yet. If anything, an opportunity to be back in a creative space with my fellow "theatre geeks" is a dice roll I'll take any chance I get.
D20 To Curtain can be found on All Podcast Services, including Apple Podcasts and Spotify. Follow the show on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. They're welcoming input and constructive criticism from their listeners, so feel free to send them a message!