Midsummer was Great

MIdsummer was great. The weather held off until we were done and everyone had gone home for the night. Meanwhile, we had a 98-year-old hula dance in attendance, a 270 lb man played Titania queen of the Fairies for one scene, and whenever anyone laid down on the ground to sleep, as happens often in the play, Kona the dog would wander over and lick their faces.

The kids dance for the Queen, beautifully choreographed by Mari Heminway, was a great success. The ham, in sandwiches and on stage, especially the death of Pyramus as performed by Felix Coble. Hoping to post a photo of that soon,, though early results suggest all photographers may have been laughing too hard to focus.
“O lord, what fools these mortals be.”

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the Backyard

Most Tragical, Ham-Handed Rendition
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
The Kahle Brothers and Illustrious Sprites

Why in the world would you go to all that trouble, scripts and funny hats and plastic swords and lion masks and all? Why would you do it year after year, 22 +/-? Because of moments like this. (Act II Sc 2), or the dignified woman wailing “use me but as your spaniel!” (Act II Sc 1) or the slow reader chewing his way through six lines of Elizabethan English (Act II Sc 1) to tumultuous applause.
We go for moments of Dramatic Relief. We have the luxury of playing with pure gold.

If you could, why the hell wouldn’t you?

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The Quality of Mercy is not Strained

Longtime Seattle actors Amy Thone and Hans Altwies have said their daughter Stella, 13, is dealing with rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare, soft-tissue cancer. A year’s worth of intensive treatment is indicated, chem, radiation and possibly surgery.  A week from a normal healthy kid to this.

Thone and Altwies have graced almost every major stage in Seattle, some of them multiple times, with performances ranging from merely superb to electrifying. The outpouring from the theatre community has been a great support and comfort to them. The couple count themselves fortunate that Thone teaches classes at The University of Washington–and thus has health care through the U. But make no mistake, this is going to be brutally hard on people who have always been open-handedly generous. There’s a donation site for Stella.
….. Stella for Star at gofundme.com
“It blesses him that gives,
and him that take.”

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Fathers and Friends

Terrific production at Seattle Rep

Old friends, old survivors, facing fathers, ghosts and women in a trailer out back of beyond, seriously off the grid. The five-member cast brought this powerful story of Viet Nam vets to life. Kevin Anderson brought an M. Emmett Walsh touch to the loquacious Jeeter, generating enough energy to light the place. Reginald Andre Jackson gave a remarkable performance as the guarded, haunted Ben, living as far from people as he can get, yet unable to escape his demon, Robert McNamara, architect of the hell that changed Ben forever.

Ben’s interactions with Jeeter are almost hallucinatory, intercutting with the manifestations of McNamara and an unnamed young soldier throw vivd relief on the different ways each of them have processed their experience, and chosen to live the rest of their lives.

I’ll write about the remarkable women in this play tomorrow. Meanwhile, I suggest your see it.

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Book-It Repertory Theatre does Racing in the Rain

Book-Its narrative theatre style of presenting novels fascinates me. Last night’s performance of The Art of Racing in the Rain by Seattle writer Garth Stein (adapted by Myra Platt) was powerful and moving. Unusually, I had not read the book before I saw the play, so I can’t compare them yet. The hard part in any literary adaptation, whether it is to the screen or the stage, is what to leave in, what to take out. Two views I have heard from others who had read the novel first were completely contradictory. One couple felt that the central appeal of the novel (which is told from the point of view of a race car driver’s dog, Enzo) was the dog’s thoughts and commentary about his master’s life; and the adaptation gave them too little of what they liked most. They enjoyed the play, but couldn’t help but long for more. The other view, expressed by a woman, was that the novel was “a little too Jonathon Livingston Seagull” for her, and that she liked the play better than the book as a result of the choices made. I’m curious enough to plan on reading Racing. I’ll report back. Meanwhile, the play I saw last night. Carol Roscoe’s direction made for a very physical high energy performance. David S. Hogan’s performance as a (talking) dog carried the conceit without a hitch. His canine body language held character throughout. He was well matched by Eric Riedmann as Denny, and their rapport together as man and man’s best friend, was an excellent recreation of the emotional bond without crossing into saccharine country. Book-It does wonders with minimal staging and props; what little they use is always imaginatively multi-functional, as when twin red leather ottomans can be either living room furniture of the seats of a race car. The Center House Theatre space (set in this case in the round) is framed by 2 massive round pillars that are structural supports for the building. Andrea Bryne Bush used these to good effect, with ramp/risers platforms curving around each pillar and a clear oval area in between for the central action. The Art of Racing in the Rain is sold out for the remainder of the run. You may have missed your chance to see this one, but keep an eye on Book-It. Next Up: Friday May 5 A Language of Their Own by Chay Yew at the Richard Hugo House.

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