Monday, May 21, 2012

2012 Boston Theater Marathon Round Up

I had a great time at the Boston Theater Marathon yesterday.  My daughter, Kira, and fellow Rhombus playwrights, Alexa Mavromatis and Ginger Lazarus, were part of our theatre-absorbing team.  We saw them all.  Yep, 53 plays in 10 hours. 

My play, Second Look, ran in the 6-7pm hour, and I was delighted.  It's a serious piece, and the audience was clearly with us.  The house grew very, very quiet, which is just what we needed.  Actors Charles Van Eman and Bob DeLibero did a fantastic job, under Stephen Faria's direction, of capturing the awkwardness and silent pauses in the difficult encounter portrayed in Second Look.  Much thanks to the Firehouse Center for the Arts for choosing and producing the play.

Bob DeLibero, Stephen Faria, and Charles Van Eman at rehearsal.
I was was a little concerned about how the audience would react to our piece when I first sat down and saw the program, because our hour started with Designated Sitter, by George Sauer, featuring Hannah Husband, Nael Nacer, and Ed Hoopman--and this promised to have the audience laughing.  (And it did.)  And then right before Second Look was scheduled Walt McGough's piece, The Dinosaurs Have a Request, with a cast of a dozen actors.  I'm a huge fan of Walt's work, and this promised to keep the audience chuckling.  How would we get them to settle down for Second Look?

Turns out, Walt's piece was funny, sure, but it was also extremely thoughtful and thought-provoking, and highly theatrical.  A hard act to follow, but it fully engaged the audience.  This was just what we needed and Bob and Charlie kept a tight trip on them throughout our piece.

There were many good plays and performances over the course of the evening.  Far too many to list all of them here, but besides Walt and George's pieces, here are a few that stood out for me:
  • Shrapnel by young playwright Yavni Bar-Yam. Intense play about potential high school shooters.
  • Love, Billy Bunny by Peter Floyd.  I'm a big fan of plays about obsessives, and any play that features a gun being held to the head of a stuffed bunny has my vote.
  • Kevin LaVelle completely grabbed our attention in William Donnelly's play, Animal Boat, as a former writer of children's songs turned corporate PR hack.  (This was one of Kira's favorite's, too.)
  • Ronan Noone's I Glue You showed his dark, dark sense of humor and clear love and skill with language.
  • Bob Mussett and Lynn R. Guerra shone in an intense encounter between two people who have trouble dealing with other people in Sheri Wilner's Arts and Sciences
  • Grant MacDermott made a fine playwriting debut with the heartfelt King Richards, with strong performances from Dale Place and Bob Pemberton.
  • C.J. Erlich, whom I met at the EstroGenius festival last year, gave us some great laughs with The Lilac Ticket, about an elderly married couple.  Kippy Goldfarb and Stephen Benson had terrific chemistry.
  • I was delighted to see Audrey Claire Johnson, who is in the film version of Measuring Matthew, give a strong performance as a sleepless mother in Barbara Blumenthal-Ehrlich's play, 3 A.M.
  • Hand Down the Chesterfield, by Tom Grady, was one of the more ambitious pieces of the day, with Michael Fordham Walker giving a fluid performance as a coat, in a play that had a complex view of time, place, and memory.
  • I like a play with a good surprise, and John Shanahan's play, Hot Water, featuring Will Lyman, Bill Mootos, and Amanda Collins, certainly made me happy.
  • Erin Striff's The As-If Sisters was a solid adoption play, and I happen to love writing and watching adoption plays.  As well as plays with Georgia Lyman in them.
  • Deirdre Girard's play, Frickin' Woodpecker, got a great cast in Steven Barkhimer and Barlow Adamson, that got this script to land with just the right gentle touch.
  • Esme Allen blew me away in The Accidents of Bread by William Orem.  I turned to Alexa and said, "who the hell was that?"  Having spent the last zillion years working on a play about the creation of the English Bible, I loved seeing someone flip out over the nature of transubstantiation.
  • And Reproduction by Elizabeth Dupre, featured some great romantic geek humor.  I adore romantic geek humor, since I might actually be a romantic geek myself (you'll have to ask Tracy for confirmation).  Excellent performances in this one by Andrew Bernap and Rachel Dulude.
 The day ran, as always, seamlessly.  The BPT staff, designers, running crew, and stage managers are special kinds of magicians and deserve high prize for this most intense juggling act.

I dragged Kira to the party afterwards.  I promised that we'd only stay 15 minutes (she protested that she needed to go home and get to bed because she had school the next day.  Pshaw!)  but of course I kept us there for almost an hour.  My wife pointed out that the BTM is basically Bring-Your-Daughter-To-Work Day for me.   [The following is apparently a secret.  Do not tell anyone:]  The BTM party is pretty much the ideal networking situation for playwrights.  There's plentiful, delicious food, cheap drinks, and LOTS of actors and directors who like working on new plays.  Is there a better place to catch up with old friends and make new contacts?  If you're a playwright working in Boston, you're a fool, a fool I say, not to go to the BTM and the party, even if you don't have a play selected.  You can scout dozens of actors, directors, and theatre companies.  What kind of new scripts interest these folks?  And then that very same night, you can hunt down the ones you like and introduce yourself, tell them how much you love their work, and give them business cards.  Seriously--you get all this for $25 (if you buy in advance).  It'd be worth that much just to go to the party alone, but no, you can watch 53 short plays, too.  It's pure insanity.   [Some playwrights are very shy and find parties painful.  The solution is to find an extroverted friend and go as a tag team.  It works.  Trust me.]

It was a great night.  I can't wait for next year!

(My apologies to playwright Erin Striff.  In the initial version of this post, I mistakenly gave writing credit for The As-If Sisters to Laura Crook, who was the director for the piece. Erin wrote the piece and North Shore Music Theatre produced.)

1 comment:

John Shanahan said...

Patrick, thank you for your kind words about "Hot Water." I wasn't sure the turn worked, as the audience didn't really react. Good to know it hit!