Perils of the Flowerbed hits UI Theater Arts stage

Taking playwright Steven Glavey’s work and putting it on the Alan MacVey stage, Perils of the Flowerbed presents a darkly-toned, horror story exploring LGBT themes.


Nichole Harris

Lauren Macke of the ensemble grins as the cast and crew laughs at a joke she made during rehearsal. Perils of the Flowerbed, directed by Lila Becker and written by Steven Glavey, debuts on October 24th in the Alan MacVey theatre.

Kyler Johnson, Arts Reporter

Draping the Alan MacVey Theater’s stage Oct. 24-27 in gothic desire — a charming theme for the upcoming Halloween season — Perils of the Flowerbed is bound to bring both chills and thrills to the audience.

Lila Rachel Becker, a third year M.F.A. candidate in directing at the University of Iowa, said she had to take some different approaches with this show in order to bring out its best aspects. Prefacing the play, a note indicated from the playwright, Steven Glavey, stated the show “should be cut out of velvet darkness” — a fairly foreboding first wish.

Becker has been creative in attempting to bring this vision to life, developing the atmosphere of the show by holding rehearsals in the dark. Haze, candles, and moonlight are all depended upon in hopes of whisking the audience into the dark, fairytale-esque world.

“The show pulls a lot from archetypes,” Becker said. “It’s playing off of Bluebeard, it’s playing off of Little Red Riding Hood.”

However, just as the show’s rehearsal process spins away from the standard, Becker said the story takes a different turn on culturally familiar stories dealing with a loss of innocence.

“We’ve been really conscious throughout the rehearsal process of how in every moment the play is subverting that narrative,” Becker said.

A fictional narrative is not the only conscious subversion of normalcy in the show; Perils of the Flowerbed features a representative and diverse cast in its exploration of Glavey’s story.

One of the actors, Akia Nyrie Smith, brings his 24-year-old gender fluid self to the stage in his first male role. Smith, who uses both he/him and they/them pronouns, said he’s experienced a smooth transition into his male self for this production.

Nichole Harris
Perils of the Flowerbed, directed by Lila Becker and written by Steven Glavey, debuts on October 24th in the Alan MacVey theatre.

“To be in a show where they are adamantly and intentionally using the right pronouns has made me call into a side of my fluidity that I’ve never had the pleasure of playing with,” Smith said.

Playing the character of Rudolph, Smith said he finds himself exploring grimy, male toxicity amongst other stereotypes of being a man in society. The whole production process has allowed Smith to explore a certain “male-dom” that has been beneficial to his ever-developing identity, he said.

Steven Glavey said his own identity is how his whole interest in the genre began, stemming from personal, subterranean queerness in his own youth.

“The show’s beginnings come from the ways gothic horror can be used as a really powerful emotional metaphor for queerness, closetedness, and repression,” Glavey said.

The show’s process has been nothing but explorative. However, after developing for around seven years, Glavey said he hopes the show can reach a certain permanence following its run as a gallery production.

“I love it; I’m also ready to be done with it,” Glavey said, referencing the script’s development.

As the moon begins to rise each night, growing closer to the eclipse of Halloween, the spirit of this show will take audiences far beyond our physical world into castles and mystic gardens as well as a deeper sense of human identities not always explored in everyday society.

“There’s representations on all playing fields that coincides with exactly what the script asks for — and that’s beautiful,” Smith said.