I spent my weekend immersed in theater.
A joy I have denied myself for much of the last 2 decades, even though I not only once enjoyed being a part of the audience, but actually appeared on stage from time to time, as well. My credits are so old now I can barely recall them–juror #10 in Twelve Angry Jurors (Men); some old lady in the Heiress of Harkington Hall; Lucky, Lucky Hudson and The 12th Street Gang; and my one attempt at being musical in the Oklahoma! ensemble. There were more, but I don’t remember them. I was an understudy. I built sets. I worked on lighting. I even was inducted into The International Thespian Society. That was a lifetime ago.
Life gets in the way sometimes.
I miss theater. I miss the magic. The weaving of a tale before your eyes, and you’re a part of it just by being there. It’s never the same play, no matter how many times performed. Different actors, different directors, different venues, even different nights: it’s a living, breathing being, constantly evolving. It’s personal. It’s reactive. It’s community. It’s so much more than can ever be found on a lifeless screen from your living room sofa. And I adore the people who have dedicated themselves to bringing this world to us.
The Warner Theatre hosted two festivals this weekend honoring these special people.
The International Playwrights Festival, held on October 16-18, featured 12 winning one-act plays chosen from 200 submissions from around the world. On Sunday was the Connecticut Artists & Playwrights Festival, pairing paintings from the Five Points Gallery (from UCONN faculty) with 10-minute plays that were inspired by them. It was 4 days of magic just 1 mile from my home.
Saturday, I caught the last night of the International Playwrights Festival, titled Captive Audience. Four one-act plays were given life before us, with the playwrights right there in the audience to see for themselves how their works were interpreted. You already know I am a huge fan of The Desultory Theatre Club; the real treat Saturday night was that the DTC’s own, Keith Paul, both directed one of the plays–Buddhists in the Basement by Mary Beth Smith of Massachusetts–and performed in another–Captive Audition by Paul Braverman of California. Buddhists in the Basement was a riot. Sadie, the wife fresh from a Buddhist retreat, tries to convince her husband, Joe, to allow two Buddhists she met at the retreat to live in their basement. The actor who portrayed Joe was superb–I don’t think it could have been executed more perfectly. Kelly McGurk–a fellow thespian from high school–made for a wonderful Sadie, pulling off well the weird woman who can’t seem to figure out what it is she wants to do with her life. After the plays, there was a Q&A session with the performers, directors, and playwrights–a truly unique experience–and the playwright herself praised them on their vision of her work. Even better, though, was Captive Audition. Keith Paul showed us what he’s got while trapped on the stage by a disgruntled director and petulant playwright. The play poked fun at the sometimes difficult relationship between the director, actor, and the written work itself and Keith Paul did a phenomenal job in the role of Myles Clark.
Sunday afternoon it continued with 3 paintings and 3 10-minute plays for each painting. The tagline for the festival–the beauty of art speaks to each artist individually–could not have been more perfect. Each playwright was inspired in different ways by the artwork s/he selected, whether literally–as in The Sequence by Bob Tilton of Storrs, CT–or very obscurely, like To Tell The Truth, by Allan Appel of New Haven, CT. Once again, Keith Paul of The Desultory Theatre Club directed; this time it was the 3 plays inspired by the painting Omnes Organum Triplum by Pam Bramble, Art and Art History Associate Professor at the Torrington Branch of UCONN. To Tell The Truth was a 50s-style game show (hosted by one of Jon Bristol’s puppet creations from Elmwood Productions) where–as J. Timothy Quirk aptly argues–nobody wins. Fault by Julie Weinberg of Goshen, CT, took a look at the relationship between a brother and sister out of chronology. And last, Your Eyes, The Stars by Darcy Parker Bruce of Norwich, CT, was a fantastic storytelling experience, carried entirely by only one actor, Theresa Elizabeth of Torrington, CT.
I left the theater with a renewed sense of purpose.
I have long said that this blog started as a writing exercise. It was spawned from a Creative Writing course I was taking at the time. The answer to wanting to become a published author someday, I took matters into my own hands and published on my terms, on the time schedule that worked for me. And I grew comfortable with this arrangement, allowing me to sneak in a little bit of storytelling when I can. But it’s become a bit of a crutch, and what I’m realizing now is that that screenplay that’s been revised 4 times and is still only half-written will never be finished at this rate. Those poems that I sometimes share here? They’re languishing on my pages, an ill-suited medium for what they were intended to be. I love my blog. I love sharing my baking and photography with you. But I need to make more time for that other writing, too. Because, much like theater fell out of my life some time ago, if I don’t feed this part of my soul, it, too, will wither and die. And I don’t want that to happen.
I’m surrounded by so much talent in my hometown. This needs to continue to be a source of inspiration for me.
Much like my hometown heroes have inspired me in my creative life, Smitten Kitchen was one of the first blogs I truly followed. Her recipes were part of my inspiration when the blog transitioned from a creative writing exercise to a food blog in December 2010. It seemed fitting to include an adaptation of one of her recipes in this post.