Flux Sunday, April 6th
One of the joys of writing on a regular basis for a regular group of actors is when you write for a specific voice and that voice nails the part exactly. That little thrill was mine when Rebecca McHugh read a part named, well, Becca, in my short play contribution to this Sunday's Flux.
And as her scene partner Zack Robidas noticed in our end of day feedback session, this was a Sunday of subtext (and as playwright Jeremy Basescu voiced, full of one of subtext's primary colors, guilt).
ONEIDA, OR THE PUBLIC SUBTEXT OF DESIRE
We first read two more scenes from Johnna Adams' Oneida, Servants of Motion. Set in a historically real utopian community in the 1850's, the play has beautifully rendered the struggle inherent in making private matters public business. This religious communal society shares everything, including marriage; and the strain of making that private act a shared ritual has woven throughout all the scenes we've seen thus far. This Sunday, the charismatic founder Noyes holds a communal criticism of his sexual favorite Tirzah, both because her romantic preference for Edward goes against the grain of the community's sexual sharing, and because he wants her private heart to love him most. A very private scene followed this, where Mary, still hurt from the death of her newborn child, buries a doll she burnt to punish a child. The subtext of desire, and desire's bastard child guilt, began in these scenes and continued throughout the day's work.
SIMPLE, OR ANYTHING BUT
We then read three scenes from Jaime Robert Carrillo's Simple, a play about the impossibility of connection for Perry, the play's protagonist. Told in a theatrically alienating way, this Sunday's scenes opened Perry up through a series of comically heartbreaking letters he writes to a sports coach, a political candidate, his father, and an ex-lover. An uneasy laughter broke the tension as this lonely man tried to find any kind of companionship.
BIRD HOUSE, OR YES AND
A refreshing break was taken from the guilt submarine of Sunday the 6th with Kate Marks' Bird House. Syl has left Louisy and the Bright Side to right wrongs on the Lop Side, where War Wolves abound and family pictures are blown by hot winds over barren lands. Syl wrestles with Myra, a child-like tyrant who claims to be the Sarge Ant of the Lop, as Louisy attempts to befriend Myra's caretaker Rita. A great note about this play came out of the feedback session - this is a play of 'yes, ands'; the improv term used to describe the practice of agreeing to whatever your scene partner says, no matter how outlandish. This 'yes,and' energy stirs the play into a whimsical frenzy, undercut throughout with moments of longing and darkness.
TEXAS TOAST, OR WHATEVER YOU SAY, DON'T SAY ANYTHING
The dueling marriages of Claire and Andrew (well meaning east coast liberals failing to have children) versus Sally and Bo (shamelessly vital spiritually christian socially darwin texans) deepens as Andrew relies more and more on the memory of Mai (an underage Thai prostitute his boss Bo gave him as a 'gift') to survive the loss of desire towards his wife; and Sally becomes ever more frustrated by her inability to win over Claire as a friend. Really lovely work from director Kate and her cast of David Ian lee as Andrew, Elise Link as Sally, Greg Waller as Bo, and the especially Amy Fitts as Claire. The tension of the unsaid is growing nearly unbearable...I hope it lasts.
CALLING CQ, OR NO MORE MISTER MEAN GUY
After the domestic war of A Wonderful Wife, Jeremy Basescu's new play Calling CQ seems to be the national comedy of the presidency. President Clifford Quotidien careens about his office, teasing the secret service and befuddling a reporter with tales of a Martian invasion. Whether CQ's zaniness is real, or a red herring for a real invasion, or both; we will have to tune in next week to discover. This and Bird House both offered refreshing doses of comedy to the otherwise dramatic day of work.
SIX BEERS IN, OR SUBLINGS
My aforementioned contribution Six Beers In foreshadowed the sibling rivalry of our November production of 8 Little Antichrists by casting Zack Robidas and Rebecca McHugh as brother and sister. With Isaiah directing and acting, this dream team was a little gift to myself, as the three of them navigated the uncertain waters between a brother and sister many years estranged. Subtle subtext siblings, sigh. This short set in a bar was written for Blue Box's Sticky series - we'll see if they decide to pick it up!
DOG SHOW, OR SUBTEXT OF A CERTAIN PITCH
Though we can't hear pitches that dogs can, we sure can hear them barking; and though Frank can't follow the strange sudden connection between his wife Candice and old high school bud Edward, he doesn't miss the barking. When Candice and Edward talk at a level to high or subtle for the bullish Frank, he responds by staking his turf in less elegant prose. While we only made it half way through this scene from David Ian Lee's new play, great work by new friend Anna Kull and Brian Pracht gave the scene an irresistable sexual (and subtextual) tension.
So there it was...a Sunday with a little guilt, a lot of subtext, and a few shots of pure silliness. There's probably a church joke there somewhere, but I'll leave it to others to make.