“Plan 9 from Outer Space,” Ed Wood’s 1959 B-movie film, has been labeled the “worst movie ever made.” But Shane Silman, who adapted the screenplay for the local production with the same title, isn’t convinced “Plan 9” deserves the distinction.
“I’ve seen a lot worse,” Silman said. “Because, the ultimate crime is to be boring, and I don’t find him to be boring. He’s definitely got his own voice. You definitely know when you’re watching an Ed Wood film.”
Silman said he is a fan of Wood’s work, which is why he developed “Plan 9” for the stage. The plot: aliens want to stop humans from developing a weapon that, if used, will destroy the universe. They resurrect the dead to help.
“This was an idea I had years and years ago,” he said. “It occurred to me that it would work well as a live performance.”
“Plan 9” worked so well when it debuted in March — three sold-out shows at Tapp’s Arts Center — that the production is going to kick off Trustus Theatre’s new Last Call Series. The play will be performed on Friday and Saturday nights through Sept. 29 after performances of “Next to Normal,” the current mainstage production.
“Plan 9” is faithful to the movie as Silman and the cast of 18 (plus five crew members) embrace the film’s mistakes. For example, Wood was derided for have flying saucers floating on the screen attached to visible wire.
“It’s not perfect at all. It’s not technically proficient,” Silman said of Wood’s work. “His favorite phrase on set was, ‘Artistic license.’ That was his kind of catch all for everything. Those little mistakes and hangnails kind of make it endearing to me.
“He didn’t have the resources to make the films what they could or should’ve been, but he did them anyway. We kind of picked up on that aspect of it, and we wanted to retain some of that on stage.”
In the play, there’s a saucer hanging from a wire. But on the stage the wire is attached to a pole that is carried by a very visible character known as the UFO Ninja.
For the restaging, Silman, who co-produced “Plan 9” with Nick Dunn and Chris Bickel, had to recast about half of the original production. Timing was an essential part of the humor connecting with the audience during the first run. While working with new players, “Plan 9” also has to contend with erecting its set on Trustus’ stage before every show.
It’s a lot of work for re-working the “worst movie ever made.”
“The main reason I love the guy and his work,” Silman began, “he maybe wasn’t the most talented guy, but he didn’t take no for an answer. He made these films happen. I really admire the tenacity of the guy.”
Reach Taylor at (803) 771-8362.