Flux Sunday, September 7th
VOLLEYBALL WITH EMERSON
AT our 2008 retreat, one of the highlights was workshopping Rob Ackerman's new play, Call Me Waldo. A father struggling at work and with the near loss of his daughter begins to be possessed by his great ancestor, Ralph Waldo Emerson. It is a heartfelt, funny and surprising play, and we all look forward to seeing how it develops.
(Photo: Allison Bolah, Pictured: Rob Ackerman)
Rob's contribution to our first Flux Sunday back from retreat was something altogether different: a highly theatrical fast and funny plunge into the world of high school girl's volleyball. Paired with my as yet untitled 60's play, and our continued exploration of Kushner's A Bright Room Called Day, it was a great return to Flux Sundays.
SIDE OUT, SIDE IN
We came back from the Retreat eager to bring in some new artists to Flux - folks whose work we'd admired for awhile, and in the madness of Midsummer and Bodies hadn't found time to welcome in. Our read through of the first scenes from Rob's Volley Girls gave us the perfect opportunity to hear newcomer Matthew Archambault eerily nail Coach, a driven volleyball fanatic who would rather lose the right way then win the wrong way. Matt was one of the highlights of our Imagination Compact, and it was great to have him back with Flux.
BRIGHT ROOM CALLED LITTLE POND
At the retreat, we were unable to finish our work on Kushner's fabulous Weimer Republic play, A Bright Room Called Day. And so, we saw two scenes from 2nd act, the Malek-Traum comic communists reduced to a less funny paranoia as fascism eclipses their hopes; and the stunning scene where Baz reveals he had a chance to kill Hitler in a movie theatre, but didn't out of fear of his own dying. These scenes saw lovely work from newcomers Zack Calhoon and Nicole Potter, and the lovely debut of FS regular Nancy Franklin's daughter, Kate Neumann. The highlight of these scenes, however, was Richard "Doc" Watson's portrayal of Baz; at first, coy and funny; and then furiously defending his decision to let Hitler live. I won't forget his confrontation with David Crommet's Husz, saying "I don't want to die" in such way that all our little accommodations to the misuse of power were brought horribly into the room. Kushner's play remains as unfortunately timely as ever.
THAT 60'S PLAY
One of the other big projects of the retreat was the workshopping of my play in development, (working title 10 Black Boxes.) This play follows ten people through the 1960's, each year turning into the next through an interlude of pivotal 60's text that takes over the world of the play. Writing specifically for the various voices of the ensemble, and using some of the theatrical discoveries of Midsummer and Bodies, 10 Black Boxes feels like the next big step in my work a playwright. At this FS, I got to see the strange seduction of Cotton Wright's Anisa by Kelly O'Donnell's Tegan,; the haltingly earnest portrayal of savant Lee by Matthew Murumba; Jason Paradine's Bobby talking down Christina Shipp's Lizzie from the Golden Gate Bridge; and Jay Liebman's charismatic turn as haiku hippie Isaac, winning over Tiffany Clementi's Marie against her better instincts. Heather Cohn staged all the moving parts into a exquisite little motor of a scene, helping me come closer to finding the heart of the play.
All in all...it was good to be back, with glow and the green of Little Pon still lingering.