By Richard Schultz, October 2016 Issue.
A change in scenery is good for creative inspiration. Literally, take a road trip and catch the theatrical stagings in other parts of the state.
Each of these local theaters offers a forum for resident talent and also reflects the character and artistic interests of their community.
By sampling the talent outside of your own community, you will be supporting the people and organizations that bring the arts to these audiences. Plus, playing an arts tourist is one of the best roles around.
Borderlands Theater | boderlandstheater.org
Nogales: Storytellers in Cartel Country
Through Sept. 25
Culture Clash member Richard Montoya uses original and researched text, created video and short film, set against scenic art installations. At its core is the tragic, but true story of a Nogales boy who was shot in the back 15 times by a U.S. Border patrol officer. Documentation morphs into hybrid performance as Nogales: Storytellers in Cartel Country traces the bullets beyond headlines, borders and politics to explore the true lives and real people from the dangerous shadowlands to the powerful circle of an infamous sheriff.
Structurally innovative and emotionally riveting, Guera is the nuanced, unflinching story of one young woman’s struggle to survive while growing up with a drug-addicted mother and an overwhelmed, alternately tender and violent father. Drawing on years of supporting herself as a waitress, playwright and performer Lisandra Tena offers her life as a menu of scenes – audience members choose the appetizer, entrée and dessert – will it be “Mom’s Yard Sale” or “Promises, Promises”? “El Mexicano” or “The Talk”? You decide.
March 30-April 9
What would happen if a group of Native Scientist built a time machine and shot Christopher Columbus before he set sail to the New World? Klee Benally, Ryan Pinto, Adam Cooper-Teran and Denise Uyehara, indigenous and non-Indigenous artists from the state of Arizona, work around issues of sovereignty through contemporary theater and performance.
Invisible Theatre | invisibletheatre.org
Alive and Well
The play opens in Petersburg, Va., where journalist Carla Keenan is about to embark on a 100-mile westward journey across the central part of the state to replicate Robert E. Lee’s retreat from the Union forces. Leading the trip is Zachariah Clemenson, a Civil War re-enactor and taxi driver who is not only familiar with the history of the surrender, but who has claimed to have seen “the lonely soldier,” a ghost who supposedly still patrols the route.
My Life on A Diet
Hollywood legend Renee Taylor takes the audience on a trip through her 60+ year career in movies, The Tonight Show, Broadway as wll as her iconic roles as Sylvia, Fran Drescher’s over bearing, food loving mother on the hit TV series “The Nanny” and Ted Mosby’s neighbor, Mrs. Matsen, on “How I Met Your Mother.” Throughout this trip, her perseverance and dieting, as well as her 47-year marriage to actor and director Joe Bologna who staged this play, have been the true constants in her life. The journey includes dieting advice she received from Hollywood stars, including Joan Crawford and Marilyn Monroe, and stories of many other stars she knew and worked with.
Using a cast of three to play 40 sharply drawn characters, this bold work of penetrating intelligence is based on the fanciful, explosive idea that a German Chancellor might, as an act of redemption, invite six million Jews to Germany and promise them citizenship and jobs. A resulting scenario unfolds that explores the effects of the policy on Jews and Gentiles with widely varying outlooks: a Jewish dock worker from Massachusetts who brings his Irish wife and his son to Bremerhaven to start a new life, a survivor of Auschwitz who returns to find the woman who betrayed his family to the Nazis, a young German smitten by a Jewish American teenage girl, an unemployed German laborer and scores of others.
Frederick Douglass-In The Shadow of Slavery
Staring Broadway and film actor Melvin Johnson Jr., this suspenseful and provocative one-man show barrels headfirst into the dramatic complexities of American story. Journey through the heartbreaking childhood of Douglass: as a plantation slave, through his five years of life in New Bedford, to his pivotal friendship with Abraham Lincoln.
Live Theatre Workshop | livetheatreworkshop.org
[sic], meaning “thus, so, as such or in such a manner,” is a term that appears in quoted material to inform the reader that what they are reading is being “reproduced verbatim” so ignore any strange spelling, phrasing or punctuation. That’s just the way it is. In adjacent apartments that resemble nothing so much as broom closets with windows, three young, ambitious neighbors come together to discuss, flirt, argue, share their dreams and plan their futures with unequal degrees of humor, hopefulness and abject despair, all the while pushing the limits of their friendship to the max and demonstrating that language can be both an instrument of intimacy and a weapon of defense.
Buyer & Cellar
Jan. 5-Feb. 11
An irresistible one-man play with the most delicious fictitious premise: an underemployed Los Angeles actor goes to work as a shopkeeper in the basement of Barbra Streisand’s Malibu home. This play utilizes wit and perspicacity to poke fun at the solitude of celebrity, the love-hate attraction between men and divas, and the melancholy that lurks beneath narcissism.
The Cripple of Inishmaan
Feb. 16-March 25
Set on the small Aran Island community of Inishmaan off the Western Coast of Ireland in 1934, the inhabitants are excited to learn of a Hollywood film crew’s arrival in neighboring Inishmore to make a documentary about life on the islands. “Cripple” Billy Claven, eager to escape the gossip, poverty and boredom of Inishmaan, vies for a part in the film, and to everyone’s surprise, the orphan and outcast gets his chance – or so some believe.
Below the Belt
March 30-May 6
Richard Dresser’s absurdist corporate comedy about an anonymous factory cranking out units of some unnamed product where three men try to maintain some semblance of humanity and self, despite a crushingly conformist and hyper-masculine bureaucracy.
May 11-June 10
After 20 years apart, Emma tracks Ulysses to a trailer park in the middle of nowhere for a final reckoning. What unfolds is a visceral, profound, funny, sweet meditation on love and loss with the simplest of theatrical elements: two people in one room resulting in a breathtaking story about the longevity of love.
Theatrikos Theatre Company | theatrikos.com
The Constant Wife
Sept. 30-Oct. 16
British writer Maugham’s popular comedy of modern manners espouses that so long as a wife is supported by her husband she must remain faithful, but when the tables are turned freedom becomes the currency with which both must pay. Cuckolded wife Constance Middleton pretends not to know her doctor husband is playing doctor with her best friend until that friend’s jealous husband confronts her.
Prescott Center for the Arts | pca-az.net
Dancing at Lughnasa
Winner of the 1992 Tony Award for Best Play, five unmarried sisters living in a modest cottage in Donegal, Ireland, possessing unfailing courage and sweet forgiveness engage in a wild, final celebration of their way of life before it changes forever. On the threshold of the autumn of 1936, the household revolves around the 8-year-old lovechild, Michael, and the Mundy brother priest, Uncle Jack, recently returned from 25 years in a leper colony in Uganda. Ancient tribal customs and Christian beliefs clash as the autumnal fires celebrating the Harvest God, Lugh.
Widely regarded as one of the most sensational and entertaining farces of all time, Charley’s Aunt centers on two Oxford undergraduates in search of a chaperone for a proper visit from their girlfriends. Jack and Charley manage to persuade fellow undergraduate Fancourt “Babbs” Babberley to impersonate a millionaire aunt in this hilarious tale of young love and preposterous deception.
Based on a true story, Annie and her best friend, Chris resolve to raise money for a new settee in the local hospital waiting room. The ladies manage to persuade four fellow Women’s Institute members to pose nude with them for an “alternative” calendar, with a little help from hospital porter and amateur photographer, Lawrence. The news of the women’s charitable venture spreads like wildfire, and hordes of press soon descend on the small village of Knapeley in the Yorkshire Dales.
How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying
March 23-April 9
A satire of big business and all it holds sacred follows the rise of J. Pierrepont Finch, who uses a little handbook called “How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying” to climb the corporate ladder from lowly window washer to high-powered executive, tackling such familiar but potent dangers as the aggressively compliant “company man,” the office party, backstabbing coworkers, caffeine addiction and, of course, true love.
Looking for more on the 2016-2017 arts season?