CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story called opening night at Queer Theatre Kalamazoo the "world premiere." The show at QTK was, in fact, the first working production of Badfic Love, not the world premiere.
Have you ever read a good book, but wished the author had done something differently? Maybe you would have changed the ending or developed a character a little more. That’s what fan fiction writers do—they recreate a story the way they see it in their minds.
In the original play Badfic Love by Western Michigan University alum Adam Pasen, a bad fan fiction writer has a very different idea about how the relationship between Harry Potter and his nemesis Draco Malfoy plays out in the J.K. Rowling books.
“She wants to give characters who don’t necessarily get to feel joy and love, give them an opportunity to feel that for each other," says Sugay about her character. "So she’s really writing out of love for the characters and out of—she wanted to give them the opportunity to experience what she felt that they had missed in the books and the movie.”
Though Michelle has the best of intentions, her writing is terrible. The dialogue is shallow, the grammar is a little off, and then there are the author appearances where Michelle herself saves the day.
Michelle’s ridiculous story has attracted the attention of writer Kyle, played by Bryan Knewtson. He belongs to a club whose goal is to protect the public from bad fan fiction. But Kyle is enjoying Michelle’s story too much to report her to the group.
“Everything is enjoyable to him cause it’s like a joke. It’s like something to just take in and realize that ‘Oh my gosh, what were they thinking?’ How could this possibly be going through someone’s mind? And it’s just a mystery to him," says Knewtson. "And that’s why it’s so enjoyable because he doesn’t understand why people could be so wrong, when he knows exactly how it should be.”
Kyle is so fascinated by Michelle’s awful writing, he asks her out on a date to study her technique. All the while, the anti-fanfic group is plotting to take Michelle’s story out.
While the relationship between Michelle and Kyle is flawed, Harry and Draco played by Nick Petrelli and Joey Urreta are very much in love.
“It’s a terrible story. So you want people to be like, ‘This is terrible. This doesn’t work at all,’" says Urreta. "But then—without giving anything away—it transitions into something where hopefully by the end of it you’re like, ‘This really works. This is really something I’m on board with.’”
This weekend is the first working production of Badfic Love. The play will then move to Chicago’s Den Theatre in April, where several WMU alums have graced the stage.
Director Nick Thornton says this production shows just how much talent WMU theatre graduates have. Thorton says it also encourages artists to keep creating.
“We have so much power and we can go out into the world and create our own reality. Which is so lovely, you know what I mean?" says Thornton. "In a world full of things that are saying, you know: stay at home, don’t do anything, tear down other people’s work. We’re kind of saying, you know, what is your world? What are you going to do with it?”
Tickets for opening night are sold out, but you can find tickets for the next two weekends through Queer Theatre Kalamazoo's Facebook page. The theatre is part of FIRE Historical & Cultural Arts Collaborative. Badfic Love is rated PG-13.