UT Students adapt puzzle platform game for stage play


Dance sophomore Katie McCarn presents choreography to potential casts for the play “Thomas Was Alone” at Liberal Arts Building on Tuesday night, Originally adpated by local theater troop Uh Theatre Company from an indie puzzle platform game, “Thomas Was Alone” tells the story of an Articificial Intelligence named Thomas who becomes self-aware and seeks to escape

Photo Credit: Mengwen Cao | Daily Texan Staff

While some students like to play video games, a group of students with the Uh Theatre Company are adapting a video game into a play.

Uh Theatre Company, a student theater troop created last May, held auditions Tuesday for their adaptation of the puzzle-platform game “Thomas Was Alone.” Developed by game designer Mike Bithell, the game is set in a computer mainframe within Artificial Life Solutions — a fictional company dedicated to developing artificial intelligence. Within the mainframe are a number of shapes, which develop personalities and abilities after a system glitch in the computer causes them to become self-aware. 

Matt Hill, co-founder of the Uh Theatre Company and a theatre and dance and radio-television-film senior, took a special interest in the game in August and thought there was potential to create an artistic adaptation. After Hill introduced “Thomas Was Alone” to Oscar Franco, a collaborator with the company and a theatre studies senior, they made plans to create a theatrical adaptation of the game.

“After playing the game, [Oscar] felt really attached to the characters and the narrative of the piece.” said Hill, who also serves as the company’s artistic director. “He talked to me, and we talked to a few other people, and we formed a collaboration team.” 

With the combined efforts of several company members, the team began pre-production.

“We thought, You know, we can get together some talent, a few actors, we can write a few scenes. We can basically rehearse and film a little mini project,’” Hill said. “Basically create a teaser of what a full-length production might be. After doing so, we sent such footage to [Bithell] and we asked for his permission,” Hill said. 

In January, the company received consent from Bithell to continue developing their adaptation of his game.

The play will be more of an adaptation than an exact rendition of the game. Kenny Chilton, theatre and dance junior and company collaborator, said this allows for more freedom when developing the plot and characters.

“We needed to make some leeway for ourselves,” Chilton said. “An adaptation isn’t meant to be an exact copy. An adaptation is something you can call your own.”

Set to premiere April 3, “Thomas Was Alone” will be the third production added to Uh Theatre Company’s repertoire. Olivia DeBeck, a company collaborator and radio-television-film senior, said the company prides itself on its creativity and originality. 

“We do more original things than are pre-existing,” DeBeck said.

Going forward, the company is working on a fight-choreography piece set to open this May called “Versus.”