Posts Tagged los angeles

Summer of Theatre (hopefully)

4 August 2010

Despite dedicating my career to the craft, and my two degrees in the subject, getting off my butt to actually see theatre is always a difficulty. This has a little to do with me being cheap, and a little to do with being busy (especially before the kid– when you are constantly performing in shows, spending your little free time viewing one isn’t exactly top priority), and a lot to do with just being a homebody. Don’t get me wrong– I’d still see theatre on vacation and such. But not really without a special occasion. Last time I was pregnant, I had no idea how little I would actually get out once I became a mom. (I had no idea about a lot of things…) But this time around, I’m feeling an urge similar to nesting that tells me to see all the theatre I can before this baby arrives. Andy has been particularly eager to support me in this. I think he gets it too. And he loves having a wife that is current in her field, I think. So anyway, I haven’t gotten out a lot this season, but so far we’ve seen Opus at The Fountain Theatre, and last night I went by myself to see a workshop production of Lorraine Hansberry’s Les Blancs at Antaeus. And we’ve also got another trip to Ashland, OR planned where we will both see three productions at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Last year I only saw two and regretted it. We’ve got plans for Hamlet, Pride and Prejudice, and Throne of Blood for me, and then Hamlet, Merchant of Venice, and a new play called American Night for Andy.

Opus is a somewhat new play about a famous string quartet who must replace one of their members after an internal conflict. The small ensemble cast (only 5) included Gregory Gifford Giles, one of Andy’s actors from THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY, the radio play he is currently producing and directing. I’ve auditioned at The Fountain before, but I’d never seen a show there. It’s one of those cramped 99-seat houses that uses half of their space for stage and the other half for audience (which, btw, was sold out completely for the matinee we saw and we were the only ones in the audience under the age of 60). It’s actually a very wise use of the space. The stage was the perfect size and the set design was simple but brilliant. All the performances could best be characterized as precise and well-crafted, fitting to the characters’ all being classical musicians. The actors approached their roles just as a musician in a string quartet would approach a piece of music. It’s being extended, so I highly recommend catching it before it closes.

Les Blancs is a Lorraine Hansberry piece that I had never read or seen before. If you recall, Hansberry is the playwright who famously penned A Raisin in the Sun, but none of her other works reached near the popularity of that one. Les Blancs takes place in Africa on a mission compound, and for some reason, I’m really attracted to plays that are set in Africa and deal with the racism issue on that front. I find it really fascinating. My biggest reason for vacationing to OSF last year was to see Soyinka’s Death and The King’s Horseman and I think this play surpasses that one in depth of thought, in my opinion. This show was a workshop production, which for the audience, basically only means that the actors carry scripts around in their hands. All of the acting, set design, costumes, props, etc., are in place and used and are certainly good enough for a “fully staged” production. It’s quite easy to forget the actors are even carrying scripts. Antaeus does this sort of workshop production quite a bit, as part of their goal is to allow their actors to explore a brought range of classical texts. I’ve always loved the work Antaeus does and really enjoy following them. I really hope they bring this show back– I think it deserves another look.

I’m also really hoping to get out to a staged reading at A Noise Within this summer. I believe this is the first year that they have been doing these readings and they look really cool. That theatre used to be completely dark over the summer and it seems they have slowly been increasing their summertime activity. And hopefully I will get to see a few more things before the birth of this child. But I must admit that toward the end of the show last night I was getting quite uncomfortable, and as much as my mind was enjoying the play, my body was determined to spoil my fun. Hopefully I’ll be able to make it through a few more before I get too uncomfortable to even try.