‘Flight Attendant’ Creator Releases ‘Sleeping Giant’ at Salt Lake Acting Company


Heather Hopkins

“Sleeping Giant” set (Photo by Heather Hopkins | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Heather Hopkins

Happy Opening Night

“Happy opening night!” is the salutation each patron of the Salt Lake Acting Company is met with as they walk through the doors to its newest production. There is a palpable excitement in the air of the theater. Complimentary wine is being handed out at the top of a cheetah print-clad staircase before you are led to your seat by a smiling member of SLAC. After an informal and friendly introduction speech from the director, the lights in the theater dim and the production of Sleeping Giant” commences.

‘Sleeping Giant’

As the title suggests, the play centers around a sleeping giant. In the world of playwright Steve Yockey, the giant is a mythical water creature that has been sleeping in a small lake town. With one exuberant marriage proposal involving fireworks, the giant is woken up, wreaking havoc on all that encounter it. This havoc causes a spiral of interconnected dramas and dark comedies that Yockey has masterfully made feel simultaneously obvious and far-fetched. 

Cast Versatility

To add to the play’s layered feelings of simplicity and nuance, the cast members are asked to have as much versatility as a theater set. Changes to set and costuming are extremely minimal in the show, where throw pillows are the only change on set to indicate a new home to the audience and cast members have only small hair or shirt changes between their multiple characters. When the lights come up at each act, each actor has very little to work with to indicate the play’s multiple environments and various personalities. A play with 18 characters but only four cast members requires imagination on the part of the audience, but it requires a great deal of talent from the cast in question. 

Actor Lily Hye Soo Dixon plays “The Naif” and Tito Livas plays “The Messenger.” Both encompass five separate characters each. Actor and U theater professor Robert Scott Smith plays “The Raconteur” and Cassandra Stoke-Wylie plays “The Convert.” Both take on four characters each. The skill required by these actors in changing character every 15 minutes while suspending audiences’ belief in a world in which mythical creatures reign is something applause doesn’t seem to do justice.

“SLAC Thanks You” Sign (Courtesy of Heather Hopkins)

Yockey’s Return

Similar praise needs to be given to the entire crew. Many technical feats were overcome in the 80-minute production. No one would guess, or remember, that the stage setting was that of a church gymnasium with moving walls, waterworks and extensive lighting and sound effects. It’s no wonder Yockey wanted to return to SLAC with one of his productions, yet SLAC wasn’t sure they would see Yockey or his work again after his Hollywood success. The playwright has had two plays previously premiered at SLAC but has since been a producer on hit TV series “Supernaturaland most recently been Emmy nominated as a creator for HBO hit “Flight Attendant.” Lucky for us, Yockey thought of SLAC immediately after penning “Sleeping Giant,” and we couldn’t be more fortunate.


Tickets are still available for “Sleeping Giant,” which runs through Oct. 16 at SLAC’s Upstairs Theater.


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