Mailbox: Bent, Birthday, and More

Michael Swinford and Jerome McIlvaine in Bent at The Theater Within

Last weekend, my friend and fellow theatre commentator, Joe Boling, and I were munching on cookies together during the intermission of an Encore show and talking about our viewing plans for the rest of the year.  He said he makes sure to see everything at The Theater Within because no one else does the shows they do.

That conversation, coupled with my recent work on directories for the shows I’ve seen and reviewed in the past couple of years, reminded me that I have not been to a Theater Within show since their inaugural production in 2007 (pre-blog.)

Their production of “Bent,” by Martin Sherman, opens this Friday.  I wish I could be there opening weekend but I am already fully booked.  In fact, I am not even doing a full “mailbox” post this week because I don’t have time.  I may have been too ambitious, anyway, when I said I would share the theatre-related contents of my email box with you every week.

I do want to see “Bent” later in its run, however.  Below is the press release that Colleen Steele sent me.  I think that Scot McKim wrote it, and/or maybe he took the accompanying photos.  Anyway, it sounds like an intense show, with opportunity for thoughtful discussion afterwards.

The Theater Within Shapes History with Bent

Am I my brother’s keeper? Are there angels among us? What is love? These are some of the age-old questions that concern the characters in Bent, opening June 5th at The Theater Within. Premiering in 1979, some* four decades after its subjects would have lived, Martin Sherman’s holocaust-era dramatization unearthed the origin of the pink triangle for a mass culture that found itself newly-enamored with the idea of measuring social status with labels. Just forty years after the worldwide social revolution of the late ’60s, global culture is rarely untouched by branding, from commercial products to political campaigns. Is humanity fundamentally different in the 21st century or could history repeat itself? 

It’s Happening

When one can be killed for silence as readily as for speaking, the truth itself may not be a straight line. Bent traces the journey of Max, a homosexual living in Berlin during the Nazi regime, who is forced to reevaluate his beliefs in order to survive. Hardly the model for sainthood, his ambivalence in the face of profound cultural change offers an intimate portrait of a kind of thinking modern theater audiences identify more and more as their own. Is heroism within his grasp or will he falter?

Reaching Out, Turning In

Discovering stories that excite more questions than answers has made The Theater Within’s postshows as much a meeting place for community as the shows themselves. Mature audiences are invited each night to sit with cast and production team for Looking Within, an open and often lively investigation of how what happens onstage measures the drama that happens at the fingertips** of real human experience.

For additional information, contact Rod Isaac at rodisaac1 at yahoo dot com or the theater link at www.thechurchwithin.org. The Theater Within is located at 1125 Spruce St., just four blocks east of Fountain Square along Prospect Street immediately south of the KFC and is an outreach program of The Church Within. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for students and seniors. Show dates are Fridays and Saturdays June 5, 6, 12, 13, 19 and 20 at 8 p.m. For reservations call (317) 850-4665.

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I would like to see “Alfred Hitchhike Presents South By Southeast” at the Mystery Café’ one of these Saturday nights, too.  I haven’t been there in a while either, and the title of this newest show makes me smile and remember how much fun I had the last time I was there.

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I continue to see and judge one or more Encore shows every weekend but, as you know, I am not allowed to blog about them.  The next show I will write about will be the Midwest premiere of “Octopus,” by Steven Yockey.  I have been looking forward to seeing it ever since I first heard about it during the “pitch session” segment of the National New Play Network’s annual meeting last summer.  “Octopus” opens at the Phoenix Theatre next Thursday, June 11, 2009.  Here is an excerpt from the press release that Sharon Gamble sent me:

Indianapolis – The Phoenix Theatre of Indianapolis will produce the Midwest premiere of Steven Yockey’s Octopus on its Mainstage June 11 through July 11, 2009. There will be no performance on Saturday, July 4, but there will be a bonus performance on Wednesday, July 1, at 7:00p.m. Other performances are Thursdays at 7:00p.m., Fridays at 8:00p.m., and Saturdays at 8:00p.m.during the run.

THE PLOT

After two gay couples get together for an evening of partner-swapping, one of the four men receives a telegram from a mysterious messenger and then disappears into the deep blue sea. One by one, the other three men receive telegrams of their own. Is it a bizarre coincidence or some kind of cosmic revenge for a night of debauchery?  Octopus examines the fallout of the turning-point evening on two committed relationships. Audience Advisory: Contains adult content, nudity and strong language.

 ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT (from the playwright)

Steven Yockey is a member of Atlanta’s Out of Hand Theater and a regular fixture at Dad’s Garage Theatre Company in Atlanta with the plays Sleepy and Ski, Stop Motion (2004), Swallow (2005), Snuff Film (2006), and Sucker Punch (2007), all commissioned and directed by frequent collaborator Kate Warner. Other works include the plays Bellwether, Tsuru: a ghost story, Cartoon, Heavier than…, and Adoration, plus the short films Medusa, Cake, Sucker Punch, and the feature-length film Salvage. Steve is a Phi Beta Kappa, Summa Cum Laude graduate of the University of Georgia and holds an MFA in Dramatic Writing from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.

THE CAST AND CREW

Bryan Fonseca directs Jason Gloye as Kevin; Benjamin Snyder as Blake; Ricardo Melendez as Andy; Nate Walden as Max; and Scot Greenwell as the Telegram Delivery Boy. James Gross is the set designer; Laura Glover is the lighting designer; and Beth Marx is the costume designer.

PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE AND TICKETS

Octopus will be performed on the Phoenix Mainstage June 11 through July 11, 2009. Performances are Thursdays at 7:00pm, Fridays at 8:00pm, and Saturdays at 8:00pm. There will be no performance on Saturday, July 4, but there will be a bonus performance on Wednesday, July 1, at 7:00p.m., and it will be priced at the Duke Energy Cheapseats rate of $15 per ticket. Single tickets are $25 for those 25 and over, $15 for those 24 and under. All Thursdays are Duke Energy CheapSeats nights: All tickets are just $15. Group rates for adults are available for groups of 15 or more, as are discounts for buying out the house. To purchase tickets: 317.635.PLAY (7529), or purchase online at www.phoenixtheatre.org.

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But this weekend?  Well, Encore shows and my day job are going to keep me busy for part of it, but also a friend invited me to be his guest to see the Broadway touring show of “Wicked” at the Murat.  I couldn’t be more pleased. 

And as a birthday treat to myself, I am going to leave my reviewing notebook at home for once.  If YOU have any comments about “Wicked” – either the touring production that opens this week here in Indianapolis or a production you saw somewhere else – I would love to read them here.

Hope Baugh – www.IndyTheatreHabit.com

2 thoughts on “Mailbox: Bent, Birthday, and More”

  1. <<<>>>

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    YOUR WISH IS MY COMMAND! PLEASE CALL ME AND I WILL SET UP UP WITH TICKETS! WE CAN’T WAIT TO HAVE YOU BACK AND I WILL MAKE SURE THAT I MAKE IT A POINT TO SHAKE YOUR HAND.
    CHEERS,
    CHRISTOPHER HAVEN JONES
    (317) 289-4969

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