Grant to scare audience with his ‘Little Nightmares’

Photo credit: Giulia Heyward
Student actors bow at the end of a successful dress rehearsal.

As Halloween approaches, there are few things scarier to a thesis student than that looming deadline. And no student is more aware of this than thesis student McAlister Grant.

My thesis is a study of the horror genre in live theatre built broadly around the questions of ‘What does it mean to stage horror in live theatre?’ and ‘What can be done with horror in theatre that cannot be done with horror in film?’” Grant said in an email interview. “These questions are definitely of serious personal interest to me, but in all honesty, the thesis itself has, from the beginning, essentially been an elaborate excuse to direct this production.”

The project, titled “Little Nightmares: An Anthology of Short Horror Plays,” consists of five independent one-act plays inspired by the horror genre and the director’s own nightmares and anxieties. Each act will explore different themes and tones, including a Kafka-esque black comedy, 60s girl pop music, and an act that will be entirely performed in pitch darkness.

The process of directing this ambitious production has so far gone without a hitch.

“No major setbacks yet, fingers crossed,” Grant said. “Anything that does go wrong usually goes wrong in production week, so stay tuned. Everything has mostly gone swimmingly, though the production schedule has been pretty crunched.”

And, despite the relative ease of this project, the idea of being almost done has both its benefits and drawbacks.

“On one hand, I know that I will survive this process, and after it’s over, I will be able to finally catch my breath and relax a little,” Grant said. ”On the other hand, the home stretch is the most intense part of the production process, and there is still a great deal that needs to be done.”

The team behind this production is what Grant describes as a “New College theatre all-star team” working on everything from costume and set design to puppetry.

“Everyone has been incredibly gracious and enthusiastic about working on this project, and bringing their own ideas and passion to the table,” Grant said. “I appreciate this a lot, because the act of directing is nerve-wracking and vulnerable enough as it is, to say nothing of directing plays I wrote myself.”

This sentiment has been echoed by the cast and crew, who are also excited to see the project come to life.

This is unlike any other theatre show I have ever seen,” first-year transfer student and lighting designer Carlysle Styer said. “It is really unique in its use of language, and its use of theme, and its use of lightning and costumes and the way it is portrayed in this false reality that looks almost real.”

The production will premiere on Halloween weekend, Oct. 29 to 31. The play is free and open to the public. Reservations can be made by emailing


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