The Thrill of Two New Pieces

Last Sunday I went to see the closing performance of the rolling world premiere of “End Days” at the Phoenix Theatre.  I had been to the opening performance as well, plus two other performances during the run.  I wrote about this show quite a bit as Amaryllis in the “You Review It” forum on IndianaAuditions.com, so I will just say again that I love this new play by Deborah Zoe Laufer.

 

I  got to talk with Laufer a couple of times while she was visiting Indy from her home in New York.  She was very appreciative of the Indianapolis actors and the director, Bryan Fonseca.  She listened to them at a party, and to all of us audience members during a “talk back” session, in a very caring, but not smothering, way.  She mentioned that she is a mom.  I wish I had thought to ask her what raising a son and writing a play have in common.  I bet the two activities are alike in many ways.  I bet she is good at both of them.

 

I love that I am among the first non-family members to have seen “End Days” produced.  It was one of only eight plays to be chosen for the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s 2007 National Playwrights Conference.  “Rolling world premiere” means that is being professionally produced for the first time outside of a workshop at three theatres virtually simultaneously: the Phoenix Theatre here in Indianapolis, the Florida Stage in Palm Beach, and the Curious Theatre in Denver.  This premiere is partially funded by the National New Play Network’s Continued Life of New Plays Fund.

 

I feel proud and thrilled to be even a teeny-tiny part of all of this, sort of like a guest at a baby shower.

 

On Monday night I got to sit in on a third (for me) reading of a new play by local playwright Lou Harry.  It has been fascinating to be allowed to check in on this project at various stages of its incubation.

 

Some of the characters have been read by the same actors each time.  Other parts have been read by new actors each time.  The playwright has revised the script extensively each time, too, even changing the title at least once.  Now it is called “Midwestern Hemisphere.”

 

I fell in love with it the first time I heard it, when it was still just called “Lou’s new play.”  The language and the cross-generational pop culture references were so clever!  Not to mention the wacky and profound metaphysical aspects.  But now the script is even tighter and even funnier.  I am looking forward to seeing a fully-staged production of it.

 

The Heartland Actors Repertory Theatre (HART) has agreed to produce it.   HART co-founder Michael Shelton will direct it.

 

It will open on Friday, March 28, 2008 in the Arts Garden downtown.   What a great place for it!  In this play, a brilliant uber-geek uses his computer to call down a clear, impenetrable dome over his cookie-cutter subdivision.  Before he can claim credit for what he has done, he falls down his own stairs and dies.  However, not even his soul can get through the dome.  In the meantime, all of his still-living neighbors try, with various degrees of urgency, to figure out what has happened and what it means for them.

 

I realized last night after the reading, as I played invisible and listened to the production team continue its discussion about how to cast and stage this play, that the child that is “Midwestern Hemisphere” is actually only through its first trimester.  There is a lot of work still to be done to make it come alive.  But good people are doing the prenatal care, so I am not worried.

 

And again, I feel proud and thrilled to be even a teeny-tiny part of this birthing.

 

I suspect that the cast, crew, and design team of every show feel as if they are giving birth.  (Am I right?)  But there is something extra special about bringing a brand-spanking new play into the light of day.

Hope Baugh – www.IndyTheatreHabit.com

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