Cricket's Notebook "Sunday, 21 October, 2007 12:11 a m: <BR>"The 'Veiled Monologues' Controversey"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


Wednesday, 2 September, 2009 1:27 p m:
"What's New?"

In the space of the last five days of August, I saw plays by two brand-new companies back-to-back, a new play by Israel Horovitz, and two one-acts by an old, familiar company in a brand new building. Behold:

27 aug AND THEN THERE WERE NONE Independent Drama Society THE FACTORY 135
28 aug LOVE'S FIRE Exquisite Corps Theatre Company NEW REP BLACK BOX 136
29 aug SINS OF THE MOTHER Gloucester Stage 137
31 aug THE LOVE COURSE/OEDI Theater @ Hollywood & Vine PLYMOUTH 138

Boston has been experiencing a renaisance of shoestring "fringe" theater companies in the last few years. The local pool of eager actors --- people in from other cities or students or graduates at Boston's theater-schools --- is extensive and lively, and the play-spaces young people can afford are usually intimate enough to let young artists shine. And for most of them the love of theater is (must be) reward enough (It's enough for me as well.) --- but as individuals and as companies, raw talent, imagination, and expertise are enough to keep the theater scene exciting. The harvest from this one week will give you a good idea of the levels and aspirations if this growing wave.

Let's take them in order.

THE INDEPENDENT DRAMA SOCIETY "is a company of students and young professionals with a passion for theatre. Our goal is to make theatre accessible to the Boston community by providing it with unique artistic opportunities. From holding o[pen-call auditions to giving members the chance to direct, IDS strives to cultivate collaboration and creativity, thereby turning out quality productions that are as enjoyable for those involved as well as those who attend."

The company started in '07, mostly at B.U., where many of them were taking classes but not at the B.U. Theatre School. When they found a slot at The Factory, Christopher Anton directed "And Then There Were None" for the first week, but tomorrow it will be Co-Artistic Director Lindsay Eagle's turn, and she's directing Neil Labute's "The Shape of Things" --- a very different sort of show. And auditions in early September will gather a cast for Shakespeare's "Romeo & Juliet". The spread of shows suggests the eclectic nature of the group.

I must admit that I have never gotten past page-12 of any Agatha Christie mystery I've tried to read, but I must praise Chris Anton's direction and his cast. Each of a baker's dozen actors came on stage with a solid grasp both of character and incident, and kept the unbelievable plot from upstaging the interplay of people as real as the creaky plot could make them. No set designer was mentioned, but on the Factory's intimate stage people rather than scenery are center-stage.

I'll be there for "The Shape of Things" tomorrow night, and I wish the company well for their future productions.

THE EXQUISITE CORPS THEATRE COMPANY's name is a pun on the early Paris Surrealists' name for either poems or drawings done by each participant folding their work down and passing the page to another who, not knowing any previous additions, would write/draw some more and then fold and pass the paper on. Their first production --- LOVE'S FIRE --- was a similar exercize: a group called The Acting Company (out of the Juiliard Theatre School perhaps? Hi Kevin Klein, hi Patti LuPone, hi David Ogden Stiers) asked seven young playwrights each to write a play inspired by one of Shakespeare's sonnets. The results were starling, inventive, and inspired acting exercizes. So the Corps decided to do six of them as their maiden voyage production.

The Core of the Corps consists of a playwright (Peter M. Floyd), two directors (Adrienne Boris & Louisa Richards) and three actors (Janelle Mills, Gisella Ty & Bob Musett). For this initial production, the company used a full Two Dozen actors --- some of the most polished performers I've seen all year.

The company is going even further for its next production, announcing "an experiment in new play development":
For "INFINITE STORY: The Exquisite Corps Play Project" four writers met to establish a set of paramenters for their plays, then wrote in isolation for four weeks. Then "the playwrights, along with a dedicated group of actors, directors, and dramaturgs, spent 48 hours together in the Connecticut woods --- sleeping, breathing, and workshopping their material."
The results will be on view at the Boston Playwrights' Theatre on September 24 - 27 this year.

The company calls itself "an emerging, Boston-based, non-profit arts company whose goal is to produce daring works for the stage using simple means to tell powerful stories. We are committed to fostering growth and collaboration between artists and audiences; we are seeking to unite theatre lovers, watchers, and makers."

In keeping with those aims, the Corps's program listed six productions under "Upcoming Boston Theatre" in their program. That's brave. BRAVO!

You've probably read my review of "Sins of The Mother" already. It crowns the THIRTIETH Season for The Gloucester Stage, and will run till 13 September. The theater started when Israel Horovitz decided that, since he was writing plays about the people who live and work (or are out of work) in Gloucester, he ought to have them produced there IN Gloucester where people could go to plays to see mirror-images of themselves.

The new Artistic Director up there by Cape May, Eric Engel, has brought major actors from Boston up there to do excellent work for the past two summers. And so, north of Boston, "Everything old is new again!"

SOUTH of Boston, Jeff Gill has been bringing small-budget, funny plays to Plymouth for some years now. The family (Jeff's sister is the bar-maid) operates a wine-bar, and Jeff produces/directs a series of short, pithy, but usually comic plays on Mondays when he's free of productions he acts in up here in Boston. They call it called "The Theatre at Hollywood And Vine", and the bar is itself called THE VINE.
Well, The Vine moved. It's now at 47 Court Street, newer and bigger. It seats twice as many now --- about fifty, instead of the cramped 25 in three risered-rows they used to have. It's right on the Plymouth main drag, the drinks and finger-food are excellent, and the vest-pocket stage (they have Four-COUNT'EM!-Four stage-lights) is all that's needed to bring live theater to mostly local, loyal audiences. It's in-your-lap-theater at its no-frills best.

Admittedly, theater is always New every performance (Tomorrow I'll see my 139th show (not counting Readings!) since January --- and I don't own a car!), but some shows are even Newer thanmothers, aren't they?

Have you seen anything NEW lately?

( a k a larry stark)

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide