Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Sitting around the campfire

The MAT's new theatre is undergoing renovations, so this month we met at our old stomping grounds on Pecan Street, now occupied by Nancy Holaday's Black Box Theatre. Since she's deep in rehearsals for Kill the Critic!, we had to meet in the backroom, kind of like when we first started out.

I didn't know how many people were coming or how many chairs Nancy had, so I brought over some old camp chairs from my garage. It's a good thing I did, as we ended up using all of them. Too bad I didn't think to bring marshmallows.

We had 16 attendees, including one new actor (Emmy McAllister) and one potential writer (Grant Swenson) who were trying us out. We drafted Grant into a couple of plays as an actor, and even cast his adorable little daughter Zoe in one. I sure hope she had no clue what the plays were about. She certainly didn't seem fazed by all the F-bombs.

We opened the evening with the finale of Jess Weaver's suicide drama A Pact for Stray Cat. We had a particularly meaty discussion about this one. Although the ending was powerful, everyone thought it was less ambiguous than Jess intended. I really liked her continued use of the documentary narrator, which provides a pointed contrast to the action on stage. Also of note was Roy Kieffer's scary performance as the manipulative Doc. I hope we get to see him in a real production some time.

Next up was Sue Bachman's 10-minute play, Torn. This one centers around a dysfunctional family on vacation in Mexico. The mother was nicely drawn, serving as the calm eye of the family storm, but there was some debate over whether the widowed daughter should be so bitter. Other people suggested that the play might work better as a longer piece, maybe even a full length.

After that we read the next part of my cocktail party farce Butterfly Effect. Mary Sprunger-Froese and Roy really got into the spirit of the piece as the increasingly frantic host and hostess. I was concerned that some of the disasters might be difficult to produce, but the audience said I should keep them. A good director will find a way to stage them.

We finished the evening with the first half of Tim Phillip's one-act drama Never Said, about a lovestruck teenage girl and the boy who wants to keep their friendship platonic. This piece has some really nice characterizations. It will be interesting to see how it wraps up.

The renovations at the MAT continue through September so we'll be meeting once more at Black Box. And in order to get the theatre space, I'm moving it to the third Monday of the month, September 16.

See you then!

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