A New Jersey high school’s staged adaptation of the sci-fi classic Alien has the internet freaking out after photos of sets and costumes made from recycled materials looked more like Broadway than a school play.
North Bergen High School performed Alien the Play, based of the 1979 Ridley Scott film, on Wednesday and Friday night.
On Saturday, photos and videos from the play posted on Twitter went viral.
“Our performance of Alien really shows you can do so much with so little, and as long as there is a passion there to do these things, they are possible,” Steven Defendini, 32, an art teacher at the school and the play’s art director, told BuzzFeed News.
Defendini said he and his crew of six students built the play’s 15 sets, as well as costumes, which included four astronaut outfits and two aliens.
“We don’t have really any budget — we recycle everything, everything is repurposed and recycled 10 times over until we get the look we need,” said Defendini.
He explained that for the astronaut costumes, the jackets had been made from moving blankets, the pants had come from thrift stores, and helmets were made from floor mat foam and bottle caps.
One set, a computer room, was made from egg crate inserts. A local New Jersey store donated a bunch of foam.
Defendini said he’d drive around on recycling night looking to grab items, like a leftover vacuum cleaner or exercise equipment, that they could build into sets and costumes.
“To pull off something of that caliber, every set, every costume is repurposed in one way or another,” said Defendini.
He credited the students — as well as Perfecto Cuervo, the play’s director, and Brian Bonacci, the technical and lighting director — for their creativity and drive to make something different. “They worked really hard all year,” said Defendini.
Defendini said the school’s annual play — last year’s was Night of the Living Dead — usually only has a small turnout of supportive parents.
But the reaction to this year’s performance was different. “We really weren’t sure if people would laugh at what we were doing,” said Defendini.
He said when the curtains opened to the play, he could hear “audible gasps” when the audience saw the set and astronaut costumes.
“When the actual alien appeared they were screaming,” said Defendini.
It wasn’t until he and two other students were cleaning up the auditorium Saturday morning that he saw photos and tweets from the play going viral, and his phone started ringing from local media outlets.
“We did not expect this,” said Defendini.
He said he’s hoping the school will be able to find another slot in the calendar for the show to have a third performance.
“I know the kids and the cast are beyond excited to go again,” he said.