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Loney's Show Notes
By Glenn Loney, May 2011.
About Glenn Loney
Caricature of Glenn Loney by Sam Norkin.
PASSING GLANCES AT SCENES SEEN:
•Adam Rapp Is Inspired by Jean Genet’s The Maids for The Edge of Our Bodies.
•A Devil at Noon Is Not Quite the Same Thing as The Noonday Witch.
•Bob Is Destined for FAME: He Sees Himself Right Up There on Mount Rushmore!
•Store bought Bright & New: Living Now in the 1950s—Maple & Vine!
•Gun Control for Edith: Do Not Shoot Your Father’s New Squeeze!
•Elemeno Pea Is Really L M N O P! The Rich Are Not Like Us!
•The End, the Interns’ Show, Needs a Stronger Conclusion…
•Three Ten Minute Plays in More Than Ten Minutes!
Troubled Humanity On Stage at the Humana Festival:
Considering the intransigence of Republicans, Libertarians, Tea Party Patriots, & Catholic Clergy on Questions of Permitting Abortions & Gay Marriages, could it have been some kind of Liberal Reaction that Homosexual Proclivities seemed to be a Minor Theme of this season’s Humana Festival in Louisville?
Of course, there’s no Obvious Connection between Two Men Kissing & Aborting Fetuses, but you never know what kind of Dark Thoughts may be coursing through the Minds of such Conservative Leaders as Michelle Bachmann, Sarah Palin, & Mitt Romney.
Mitt Romney is a Latter Day Saint, so he is Obligated to be opposed to any kind of Man on Man Hanky Panky!
Still, it is Odd that the Biblical Injunction is to "Be Fruit ful & Multiply…"
That may be why so many Men in High Office are against Abortions? It defeats the Holy Commandment regarding Fruitfulness?
Desperately needing to have an Abortion is not something that Most Men will have to worry about—least of all, His Holiness, the Pope!
You do not get Pregnant from fooling around with Altar Boys…
Fortunately, there were no New American Plays shown at Actors Theatre of Louisville that dealt with such unsettling matters as Romps Around the Sacristy, following High Mass…
Still, it was a First for Your Roving Arts Reporter to see two men—one of them supposedly a Happily Married Man—pants down naked—spooned into each other—in what was a Forbidden Sexual Encounter!
Watch Out, Manhattan!
What’s produced in Louisville doesn’t stay in Louisville. A Humana Festival Production almost ensures a subsequent mounting in Our Nation’s Cultural Capital!
Adam Rapp’s THE EDGE OF OUR BODIES [***]
Anne Washburn’s A DEVIL AT NOON [***]
Peter Sinn Nachtrieb’s BOB [***]
Jordan Harrison’s MAPLE & VINE [****]
A. Rey Pamatmat’s EDITH CAN SHOOT THINGS & HIT THEM [*****]
Molly Smith Metzler’s ELEMENO PEA [****]
The Interns’ Show: THE END [***]
The Ten Minute Plays:
Gregory Hischak’s HYGIENE [****]
Laura Eason’s MR. SMITTEN [****]
Marc Bamuthi Joseph’s CHICAGO, SUDAN [****]
The Very Special Actors Theatre Tribute To the Late "Sandy" Speer:
For many Spring Seasons of Humana Festivals at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Sandy Speer was always a welcoming presence when Theatre Critics arrived from all over America.
He was so proud of what he & his producing partner, Jon Jory, had been able to achieve, that he was eager to help make our Critical Weekend—as well as that of Producers, Directors, & Agents from both Coasts & in between—a Big Success for all of us.
Obviously, it took a lot of Planning—as well as Funding, which James Alexander Speer was expert in raising—to make possible three days of as many as Ten Plays in Repertory!
But this was not something Sandy could have done by himself, well organized though he definitely was.
He needed a dynamic Producing Director, which he found in Jon Jory.
When Arvin Brown & Jon Jory were at Yale, they thought that New Haven might be able to support a new Regional Repertory Theatre, in addition to the theatricals of the Yale School of Drama.
They founded the much admired Long Wharf Theatre, in a disused warehouse.
But only one King can sit on the Throne, so Jon Jory moved to Louisville & the Fun Began!
With Jory, Sandy Speer was instrumental in winning support from Humana to fund their innovative Festival of New American Plays.
But he was also a Prime Mover in the Restoration of Downtown Louisville, especially the decaying but still Historical Buildings on Main Street. Actors Theatre became the Anchor of this Ongoing Revival.
When Marc Masterson came from the Alabama Shakespeare Festival to take over the reins from Jon Jory, Sandy Speer was ready to help him bring the Humana Festival to New Heights.
Now, after eleven successful seasons & 200+ plays produced, Masterson is moving on: This time to Costa Mesa—think Orange County Wives!—to be Artistic Director of the admired South Coast Repertory.
The M. Elizabeth Osborn Award:
Given to Cori Thomas for her When January Feels Like Summer.
The Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award[s]:
A Check for $25,000 & a Plaque: Given to Bill Cain for Nine Circles: A Dante Inspired Tour Through Hell in Iraq…
Checks for 7,500 each, Plus Plaque Citations for Runners Up:
Kathryn Grant, for The Good Counselor…
David Bar Katz, for The History of Invulnerability…
Diverse Commentaries on Content:
Give the American Playwright not only a Hand, but also some Cash!
Bill Cain is a Jesuit! He’s also a Two time Winner! Twice in a Row. Last year, he won for Equivocation.
His Dante’s Inferno inspired Nine Circles was premiered at the Marin Theatre, just across the Bay from theatre rich San Francisco.
It’s a requirement of the ATCA/Steinberg Award that the winning play must have had a Full Production—not just a Reading—at a Regional Theatre.
These annual awards & citations are made possible through the generosity of the Harold & Miriam Steinberg Charitable Trust, administered by their theatre loving son, Jim Steinberg.
In addition to the Osborn Award, ATCA also presents later each year the Francesca Primus Prize—$10,000 given by the Francesca Ronnie Primus Foundation—to honor outstanding contributions to the Theatre by an American Woman Artist who has "not yet achieved National Prominence."
So this is not just another Playwrights’ Award. Women Directors, Actresses, Arts Managers, & Designers are all eligible.
There are No Awards for Female Ushers, however…
Meanwhile, Back at the Whitney Academy & Jean Genet’s The Maids…
I found a program on my seat for the Whitney Academy Drama Department’s production of The Maids.
This seemed an amazing coincidence, as I’d just seen a play in Manhattan, also dubiously inspired by that curious drama.
This production—which we were not to see on stage: only to hear a snatch of recorded dialogue—had been directed by the fictional Richard Chubb, who had cast a fictional Pussy Nichols as Genet’s Madame.
Actually, the performance seemed to be over.
Bernadette [a compelling Catherine Combs] was sitting in the setting—actually, in the intimate Victor Jory Theatre—reading from her Notebook about her feelings & reactions to a Love Grown Cold.
This is sure to be re produced in Manhattan, so the economy of a Drama Monologized may seem a Plus, but there is also a Stage Hand who has to clean up the Mess, after Bernadette smashes all the Set Props.
This is a script by Adam Rapp—The Edge of Our Bodies—so there is More To It Than Meets The Eye…
Anne Washburn’s A Devil at Noon Inspired—Or Haunted—by Philip K. Dick.
Actually, Anne Washburn’s Complete Title is A Devil at Noon: a play about inner space.
Some critics—reading in the Fest Program that the Playwright had invoked the SciFi Genius, Philip K. Dick—were trying to figure out which of his Novels was the Core of her unsettling drama.
None, in fact. She, like Dick, is from the Bay Area, so he was only a Touchstone for her play.
Returning to Berkeley after a long absence, Washburn was amazed that it was no longer the city she thought she knew: Her Berkeley & her Memories were now in an Alternate Universe.
So the play is about "the Fictions of our Inner Lives, the utterly Surreal Experience of building our Reality on our own Unstable Perceptions."
For Spectators like Your Roving Arts Reporter—who attended UC/Berkeley—it was a bit unsettling to hear so many references to West Berkeley Establishments on San Pablo Avenue: the Wrong Side of the Tracks, in the good old days…
When a production of this challenging drama comes to a theatre near you, you may also wonder where the mythical Section 8 is to be found?
It might be a place you don’t want to go: in the US Army, it’s the term for a Medical Discharge for Mental Instability…
Steve Cosson staged an admirable & energetic cast.
Born in a Restaurant Toilet, Bob Isn’t Your Basic Robert!
Peter Sinn Nachtrieb’s often hilarious, frequently irreverent Bob offers Louisville Audiences a vision of a Babe born in the Toilet of Downtown Looville’s White Castle Restaurant!
But he’s promptly abandoned by a Mother Who Did Not Want Him…
Fortunately, he’s kidnapped by a Woman Who Wants To Be Mother To A Great Man.
He’s raised in a broken down Chevy Malibu, Jack Kerouak like, On the Road…
Bob then embarks on a Picaresque Adventure, but not quite like Don Quixote.
He’s not Righting Wrongs or Defeating Villains, but he is often Tilting at Windmills, as he is Seeking Fame. Fame Is the Spur!
He wants to Put His Name On A Plaque someplace.
He’d even like his Bust right up there with Lincoln & Jefferson & Washington & Roosevelt [Theo, that is] on Mount Rushmore!
Jeffrey Binder is an admirable, rubber limbed Bob, but the fun begins to run thin by 2/3rds of the Journey.
Nachtrieb won the 2010 Barrie & Bernice Stavis Award from the National Theatre Conference.
I mention this because the late Barrie & Bernice were longtime Best Friends—I wrote the Intros to Barrie’s series of Historical Dramas: Lamp at Midnight, John Brown at Harper’s Ferry, etc.—but I had no idea an Award had been created in their Memory.
You get Old & you are Out of the Loop…
Sean Daniels staged an admirable & energetic cast.
It’s Always 1955 at Maple & Vine: Who Says You Can’t Step in the Same River Twice?
What is it about Berkeley?
Anne Washburn lived there. It inspired her new play.
Instead of San Pablo Avenue in Berkeley, she could have used Shattuck Avenue or what was once Grove Street. Now Martin Luther King, jr, something or other…
Peter Nachtrieb lives just across the Bay…
Now, here’s Maple & Vine, by Jordan Harrison, commissioned by Berkeley Rep & Actors Theatre of Louisville!
Imagine a New Cult in which everyone lives a Happy Life, just like June Allyson & Dick Powell. It’s Always 1955 at Maple & Vine—with Suits, Fedoras, Dresses, & Hairstyles to match.
Couples with Troubled Marriages can find a Safe Harbor among these Good Folks!
It’s like Scientology, only with Covered Dish Casseroles…
But there’s a Serpent lurking in this Technicolor Eden.
Its Straight Arrow, Arrow Collar Man Founder, a Model Husband & Provider, has a Forbidden Love Interest on the side: Another Man!
The Audience even gets to see them, Pants Down, engaged in what Christian Fundamentalists would call an Abomination!
What would Jesus Do?
Wasn’t there a Disciple that "Jesus Loved"?
You certainly do not hear of anything like this happening with Scientologists, do you?
But it’s probably a Smutty Sin to even imagine Tom Cruise & John Travolta embracing at Maple & Vine!
Anne Kauffman staged an admirable & energetic cast.
Teen Age Boys Fall in Love: Edith Can Shoot Things & Hit Them, But There Are Consequences!
The Audience went wild with Applause & Bravos at the close of Edith Can Shoot Things & Hit Them. The Cast of Three seemed surprised, but certainly gratified at the Standing Ovation.
Edith [Teresa Avia Lim] is a young girl who’s handy with a Gun. Or a Pistol. Or a Bow & Arrow.
She’s not yet Annie Oakley, but she could become a Loose Cannon…
Fortunately, she’s protected by her loving Older Brother Kenny [John Norman Schneider], who has not told her that their Mother is Dead. Only that she’s away…
They have both been abandoned by their Father, left in the family home, with checks from time to time.
Kenny makes sure Edith does her homework & goes to school. He is both Brother & Father to her. Even Mentor, but she is a Wild One: Unpredictable & Uncontrollable.
The one time that the Father drops by [we do not see him] with his New Lady, Edith shoots her!
Well! Even Minors are not supposed to shoot people they hate, are they?
But what’s so special about A. Rey Pamatmat’s Script is that Kenny & his school friend Benji [Cory Michael Smith]—who comes over to study with Kenny—are falling in love & don’t quite know what to do about this development.
Their tentative Affectionate Encounters are rather endearing, but Benji’s Mother Fears the Worst.
This drama is a Long Way Off from Tea & Sympathy.
Nonetheless, this Play & especially this Actors Theatre Production are not apt to be seen anytime soon at the National Catholic Theatre Conference.
Nor will either win a resounding Endorsement from the Family Values & Protect Christian Marriages Wings of the United Fundamentalists for Christ.
What would Jesus Do—if he caught two teen age boys kissing? Or, even worse!, four teen age boys in a Circle Jerk?
By the way, what did Judas do for Sex?
May Adrales staged this altogether admirable & energetic cast.
The Rich Are Not Like Us! It’s Hazardous To Be Around Them, Worse To Work for Them: LMNOP.
The elegant Martha’s Vineyard set for Molly Smith Metzler’s Elemeno Pea might well make you want to sell your Mansion in the Hamptons & move up the Eastern Seaboard a bit.
Simone [Kimberley Parker Green], who is, in effect, House Sitting for the Filthy Rich, Multi Homed Devon [the remarkable Cassie Beck], has invited her Back Packer On the Road a Lot Sister, Michaela [Sara Surrey], for a Holiday.
All Hell Breaks Loose!
Devon’s Filthy Rich Husband is dumping her…
Davis McCallum staged an admirable & energetic cast.
The End Should Have Ended Sooner…
These Skits were OK as showcases for the Actors Theatre Interns. But some of them seemed Overwrought or Overworked.
Writing Credits: Dan Dietz, for Promageddon; Jennifer Haley, for La Reina de los Ángeles; Allison Moore, for Apocalypse Apartments; A. Rey Pamatmat, for This Is How It Ends, & Marco Ramirez, for The One about the Asteroid, The One That Ends Itself, 4B, & La Muerte.
Ten Minute Teasers:
Laura Eason’s Mr. Smitten:
Anna’s old cat has lived to be Sixteen, but now he needs to be Put Down.
This is very difficult for Anna [Cassie Beck], but it becomes even harder for the Vet, Dr. Loomis [Gerardo Rodriguez], who begins to cry, ending in Anna’s arms…
I thought Cassie Beck looked like a young Susan Sarandon. But a Colleague said: "Susan Sarandon never looked that good!" She was even better as Devon in Elemeneo Pea!
Gregory Hischak’s Hygiene:
Wendy is a Very Nice Little Girl.
But she has been Sent Home from St. Theresa’s because she has Something growing out of her Scalp.
Not Lice… Not Bedbugs!
No! This ugly mis shapen Thing is actually a miniature Minimalist Composer, sucking her Life’s Blood from her Brain’s Capillaries!
Her Mother, Rita, tries to wrench the Minimalist Composer from her head: Ouch! That’s not going to work…
Why do Playwrights insist on picking on defenseless Minimalist Composers?
What did John Cage & Milton Babbitt ever do to them?
Chicago, Sudan: Marc Bamuthi Joseph’s Dance Drama…
Riveting, Evocative! Sudan is worse than Chicago…
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