We have the final four shows coming up this week for Jobsite’s 2009-10 season opener, And Baby Makes Seven, and we sincerely hope you can join us. The final shows take place Thu. – Sat. nights at 8pm, and then Sun. at 4pm.
This show has been a true pleasure for me to work on. If you’ve been around Jobsite for a while you might notice I don’t act nearly as often as I used to, for the most part I’ve taken about a year and a half off between acting gigs in recent years. It’s for a lot of reasons – I’ve been directing more, our ensemble has done nothing but get bigger and deeper with talent, and I’ve also been turning a lot of attention to trying to help with just producing. It can get to be a lot when you’re actively engaged with 4 to 6 shows a year like I used to every year, so I’ve been more selectively picking my spots.
My last on stage role was Rosencrantz in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. A proper 18 months ago. I’ve not only been more selective in the parts I’ve auditioned for, but I seem to have also begun to grow much more attached to them than I once did.
For ABM7, it’s a strange story how it even came about. As you may or may not know, we had to replace Yellowman pretty late in the game this year, and director Karla Hartley came to me with this show as her ideal replacement given the circumstances. I read it, passed it around our board and green-lighted the endeavor. Next I spent some time trying to help Karla find a cast, and likely a solid week discussing options for the man in the play, Peter.
I can’t say it ever struck me like “Oooh, that’d be great fun to try.” And after Karla’s own words as to what she was looking for, I didn’t think at all this was something right for me. Karla finally called and asked me directly two days before her auditions if I’d join in, to which I was maybe a little surprised and confused but agreed to do.
I went to the auditions, gave it my best effort and enjoyed myself. That’s what you’re supposed to do, right? Then I got the call offering me the part and was pretty surprised. And flattered. I accepted of course, but it was still pretty strange. And sudden. This play was just cast and already less than a month from opening.
In many ways, this was likely another one of those kismety good things that happen in your life. Since being laid off from my day job, I’ve now managed to be able to get deeply involved in two great shows that have reaffirmed in some way why I do this and what things should be like.
First I dove headfirst in Pericles and gave it all I had for the better part of 3 months, and then spent 3 weeks submerging myself in the world of Anna, Ruth, Peter and those crazy, crazy kids. It was a great experience. Invigorating. You couldn’t ask for much better circumstances. My fellow actors, Alison and Jess, are phenomenal to work with. Giving, humble, hard-working. Karla knew exactly what she was looking for and where this play was going from day 1, still leaving enough cushion around the edges to allow for collaboration.
I’ve never worked with any of these folks in the capacity we’re in now. Jess is still a relative newcomer to the area, the closest Alison and I’ve come is the staged reading workshop we did together of Wonderland, and Karla and I have almost always worked together in a director-director capacity. Again, I’ll use the phrase tremendous fun for my interaction with all of these ladies. Even our plucky stage manager Xylina has never had to deal with me as an actor before.
Once again though, like Pericles, I am left with the feeling of “Yes! This is what it’s supposed to be like!”
The show has been up for two weeks now and it’s been a thoroughly enjoyable ride. The three of us seriously enjoy performing this show and playing with each other. Some audiences (just as some reviews) have been better qualitatively than others, but it’s never diminished our enjoyment of and connection to the work. We’ve had sold-out, raucous audiences and smaller more subdued ones – the show has been the show though.
Despite a lot of the setup in regards to GLBT family issues (relationships, parenting), there’s a lot here to identify with that’s universal. The notion that you shouldn’t change or otherwise deny who you are in order to be a “grown-up,” that every family – traditional or otherwise – is rarely ever truly prepared for the arrival of a child, that the imprinting from our own childhood is bound to come back or otherwise effect us later in life as we begin to create our own families.
I could go on, but you get the idea.
I’ve read (and even heard from associates) that a big perceived problem with the script is it’s lack of a finite focus on any one of these or any other themes. That the play almost introduces to many ideas without necessarily exploring any one of them to an ultimate conclusion. It’s not very Aristotelian in that regard, but I don’t always think that means the play is somehow inferior.
The issues and situations brought up in the show, like many of those in life, contain a certain amount of ambiguity and can be interpreted many ways by the viewer – and I really grok that. I really love that the play is a “thinker” and that it’s sparked so many conversations after the theater between patrons on their own or between us and them after the show in front of the theater or over a drink. Not every piece of theater should be tidy. Not every piece of theater should point clearly north. Sometimes it’s about the journey, and about questions raised.
One thing I think is certain, as was brought up in the Trib review – there’s a certain amount of disbelief that has to be suspended from the very beginning. The spectator, like the characters in the play, have to go along with the setup long enough for it to begin to warp the reality around them as the play progresses, which then goes to some pretty interesting territory.
I really hope that if you’re reading this that you consider checking out this sweet, hilarious play this final weekend. I assure you it’s worthy of your time. There’s honestly some amazing storytelling going on, and an opportunity to see two incredible female leads you won’t be too familiar with in that venue.
The economy is still not being too kind to us, and we’re having a devil of a time breaking even on our expenses. We’re not trying to make a mint here, just cover a humble budget. Your purchase of a ticket – full price, using a promotional code or on student rush – really makes a difference. Honestly, no foolin’. Getting out of 2009 while stopping the hemorrhaging is critical for us, and there’s only so much money a super-expensive show like Night of the Living Dead is going to be able to make back up for us.
Until we can get the foundation, grant and corporate support we need, buying tickets and seeing shows is honestly the best way to ensure we can keep bringing you great theater. Challenging theater. Risky theater. Serious theater. Silly theater. Any theater at all.
We need your support this weekend. More than ever.
Please make a plan and join us? You won’t be sorry you did.
I love the usage of the word “grok” in this blog. You Stranger in a Strange Land, you.
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