Lvl 1 Gygax: Of Branch, Of Beast, Of Beatnik

Written and performed by Dan Lovato aka Pastiche Queen.

Performance artist Dan Lovato aka Pastiche Queen runs the game. Their newest work, Lvl 1 Gygax: Of Branch, Of Beast, Of Beatnik weaves many stories together in a way that’s moving and masterful.

The audience is drawn into Lovato’s world before the play formally begins. They’re already present on stage as the audience enters, moving in a way that’s curious and extremely specific. The first half of the piece establishes the origin story of Dungeons and Dragons, a collaborative storytelling game that uses dice, pen and paper and unlimited imagination, created by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson in 1974. The play’s second half boldly deviates from Lovato’s previously established structure and into slam poetry before returning to reveal Gygax’ fate; his final role of the dice.

Lovato embodies Gygax and Arneson, along with a myriad of other fantastical creatures, with dexterity and precision. They explore themes of mental health, friendship, love, speaking one’s truth and finding one’s voice, intertwining fantastical worlds together with the steadying hand of the best Dungeon Master. They include the audience in the story in a way that’s kind and unexpectedly personal. The writing is clever, concise and thoughtful and they strike at the heart of the story while leaving plenty of room for wonder and curiosity. It’s nothing short of magical.

Lovato uses sound as another character in their story. Pink Floyd’s music largely scores the piece and is used to great effect throughout. Lighting design by Greg Crafts makes the most out of the small Studio/Stage space and elevates an already excellent show.

Lvl 1 Gygax: Of Branch, Of Beast, Of Beatnik is an epic, fantastical journey that is so much more than an origin story. Gygax and Arneson have influenced the fantasy genre as we know it and Lovato takes great inspiration from these master storytellers. Lovato’s ability to craft a world through text and physical embodiment is a gift and a necessity; the world needs storytellers like them more than ever.

Long live Pastiche Queen.

This award-winning production is part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival. Final encore performance:  July 10th at 5 p.m. at Studio/Stage, Hollywood.

 For more information or to reserve tickets, please visit: https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/7418

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