Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Cooler climes

It was a near unanimous vote. Given the choice between the non-air-conditioned theatre in the Millibo Art Theatre's new building, or the cluttered but naturally cool basement, nearly everyone opted for comfort.

And the space worked great. The sound was good, and we got to break in the MAT's newly-delivered folding chairs.

The meeting went amazingly well. We had 19 attendees, including two new actors and one new writer. The actors included Berry Huffman, who played the sorely-abused critic in my recent production of Kill the Critic!, and Sallie Walker, who I'm sure everyone already knows from her appearances with the MAT and Springs Ensemble Theatre.

The new writer was the gifted Hannah Rockey, who has participated before as an actor. It was great to see what she could do with a pen.

It was also great to have Craig Engle back after his long sojourn to the Sunshine State.

We read four plays. We opened with the finale of Tim Phillips' girl-band drama The Decibelles. Ashley Crockett got fully into the spirit of the play, sprawling drunkenly on the floor to open these last scenes. Tim was concerned that the ending of the play may have wrapped things up too neatly. The consensus was that punk music itself is raw and messy, so any story about that world should leave its threads dangling.

We followed that with the latest scenes from Jess Weaver's family drama A Pact for a Stray Cat. Here we saw a new conflict erupt between the teenage Cat and her mother, and Roy Kieffer held the audience spellbound with an incredibly moving monologue in which his character Doc told the story of his abusive childhood.

After that came Hannah Rockey's family drama Ma. Hannah admitted she broke just about every rule of playwriting in this short, 3-scene play, but it worked. From its comical opening on a jetliner to its explosive resolution several years later in a living room, the play gave an insightful peek into the troubled relationship between a woman and her aging mother, who may or may not be suffering from dementia.

We wrapped it all up with the final two pieces in my driver's ed comedy You're Driving Me Crazy. They featured a smart alecky girl commenting on her ex-boyfriend's driving skills and a girl who couldn't put her smartphone down long enough to start the car. The humor seemed to work well, but a couple of spots were confusing to people. I'll be sure to fix those up.

Nancy announced that she'd like to produce an evening of short plays similar to the show Craft Production Resources (formerly Craft Theatre) is putting on next month. She'll be keeping an eye out for promising pieces, so if you'd like to have something considered, either bring it to the Drama Lab to be read by our talented actors or give Nancy a hardcopy to read on her own. She's thinking the production will probably take place in December.

Next month, the MAT will be closed for renovations. There's a ton of work to be done, including the installation of a brand spanking new A/C system. Fortunately, Nancy Holaday has graciously offered the use of her Black Box Theatre, which just happens to be the old MAT space. So you'd better not get lost on the way there.

That meeting will be postponed one week to Monday, August 19--a whopping six weeks after our July meeting. I hope all of you will survive the long dry spell.

See you next month!