Original photo credit Jax Kirtley. Animated GIF by Emily Rosser.
Writing Hack, Punt, Tool was an excuse to break down the behavior of MIT students. Thinking about what kinds of motivations influenced people’s actions was an interesting exercise, but we had the additional constraint of creating the spectrum of characters – hero, villian, romantic interest, best friend, eager padawan, etc. – who were believably MIT students. They needed to be internally consistent and believably intelligent, but there was a whole spectrum of ways that logic could be thwarted by emotion.
And I wanted our story to resonate with anyone, regardless of whether they are hackers or MIT students. In the end Hack, Punt, Tool became a story about people passionate to fulfill a goal and learning how much they need each other to accomplish great goals.
I was also sneaking on my choreographer’s hat while writing – I’ve been dying to do a show where the characters all move with a practical, efficient flavor to their postures. Martial dance is one of my favorite forms of movement, and I can’t wait to see how it all looks when everything has been drilled and pulled together.
Danbee Kim ’09 (Choregorapher/Writer)
Tonight is opening night. This is absolutely blowing my mind.
The seed for Hack, Punt, Tool was planted exactly one year and four days ago, after MTG’s Jekyll and Hyde Matinee. This year has been an absolute roller coaster for me. I think anyone who was around me last spring (final semester before graduation) knew how stressed out I was between two theses, a senior capstone project, being President of RoboCup, alto section leader in Concert Choir and writing a musical. As stressful as it was, I wouldn’t trade the semester for anything because the foundation of Hack, Punt, Tool came out of it. The stability of our weekly meetings got shaken during the summer as graduation, summer plans, and real world jobs got in the way. I was afraid that as a writing team, not being in the same state would slowly eat away at us and the project would die. Thanks to a large number of car trips from Connecticut to Boston, and an even larger number of Skype calls, we made it happen, and here it is, opening night of the show.
In the past year, I’ve realized that the one thing I love to do more than anything in the world is to create things, whether it’s building a robot, doing graphic design, carving a pumpkin, or writing a musical. It’s so rewarding to me to be able to work diligently and passionately on a project and step back and feel proud of the work accomplished. This experience to me has been the epitome of that. I never knew that I could feel as passionate about any project as I do about Hack, Punt, Tool. I think the best part though is knowing that all those days working so hard on my own on music, I could come to our meetings with something new, and share it with others who were as passionate about the show as I was. There were so many late nights of discussing, arguing, laughing, listening to cast albums, getting angry over the word “scoff,” recording demo songs, doing readings of the script, watching Vitas on YouTube, seeing crazy sci-fi shows together at ART, and generally being silly. The way we all worked together was truly amazing, and I’ll miss our writing sessions immensely.
Watching it come together over the past month has also been incredible. Living in Connecticut, I wasn’t able to come to rehearsal every night, but each rehearsal I came to, more and more of the show came together. The characters were coming alive in front of us, and the music was no longer confined to the page. I’m grateful that I’ve been able to be a part of the production process to help shepherd the project into a state ready to be seen by an audience.
This project is so dear to us, and it means so much to us that people are coming to see the show because we’ve poured so much of our time, energy, hearts, and souls into making it what it is. We hope you enjoy it, and you should tell all your friends to come see Hack, Punt, Tool!
-Julie Henion ’11 (Music Director, Composer)
A few photos from the final dress rehearsal.
Hundreds of production photos will be included on the show DVD.
-Alex French ’05 (Technical Director)
|meetings with Michael Cuthbert, Julie’s music advisor||15 ± 3|
|“emergency” meetings||19 ± 4|
|emails sent||over 9,000|
|longest Skype call||12 hours 23 minutes|
|total hours spent on Skype||250 ± 50|
|greatest number of scene/song drafts||“Wank, Wank, Wank”: 20 ± 2 drafts found|
|highlighter colors used on Google docs||14 ± 2|
|total number Google docs used||160 ± 2|
|number of times we broke Google docs||too many…|
|miles put on Julie’s car to attend meetings||3600|
|number of hours we kept Daniel away from lab||shhh… don’t tell his advisor…|
|gallons of juice consumed||104 ± 19|
|people on the creative mailing list||19|
|number of shows listened to for inspiration||79 ± 10|
|character with the most name changes||Tensor: formerly (Lorentz, Talia, Tali, Euler, and Sir Jection)|
|single word yielding the longest discussion||“scoffed”: 22 hours ± 5|
|dawns shared||30 ± 7|
|craziest time signature purposed||19/8|
This is the last bit of writing left, after a year of working on Hack, Punt, Tool (and losing a lot of sleep and sanity): A directors note…
Something unique and amazing about MIT is that everyone (from undergrads to faculty) comes here driven to do something epic. Some come to launch rockets, build robots, get A’s on psets, or cure cancer while others may want to be dorm president, be in a musical :), or (like our characters) pull an awesome hack. Whatever it is, everyone works really hard on whatever they are passionate about to get it to the highest level possible.
But sometimes this “hardk0re” mentality is our downfall. Somewhere along the way, we lose track of why we had fun doing the epic stuff in the first place. I’ve found myself in this state at times at MIT. I’ve always managed to recover (or at least somewhat recover), but now thanks to my fellow writers and the cast and crew of the show, I have a few songs I can hum to remind me to pick my head up a little faster.
For me, directing this show has felt like “Mens et manus” at it’s finest. This was my first time directing, so I often felt like I was drinking from the firehose as Krista (my co-directing partner in crime) stepped on the hose so that the water would not blow my face off. One of the most satisfying days of the rehearsal process was my very first blocking rehearsal. I blocked a Corot-Kepler scene I had agonized over in the writing process, and then watched the actors run the scene over and over again, adding their own expression and ideas. So much “hardk0re” work felt like it turned into a sun rise.
-Rachel Bowens-Rubin ’11 (Co-Director)
After a year of writing, two months of production, and four weeks of rehearsals- Hack, Punt, Tool, is only two days away from opening, and this website exists.
You could cut the setnical tension with a knife.
Stay tuned for some (back-dated) thoughts on the writing and production progress from team that created Hack, Punt, Tool.
-Alex Flagg French ’05 (Technical Director)