Newsletter for August 2015
Mamet: Then and Now
Over the last 40+ years, Pulitzer Prize-winner David Mamet has written many plays, screenplays, poetry, novels and essays (not to mention directing for both stage and screen). His best-known plays, Glengarry Glen Ross and American Buffalo, continue to be produced all over the world.
For the past two seasons, APT has toured one of Mamet’s earliest plays, The Duck Variations (1972). The plot revolves around the chance encounter of two elderly men in a park, who–in fourteen scenes or “variations”–match wits on every topic under the sun. The play is very funny, but it is also thoughtful and sometimes poignant.
The young playwright drew upon his own experiences for the play, even though the characters are two men in their sixties. A native of Chicago, Mamet had worked as a busboy at Second City when he was in high school, which influenced the “short sketch” structure of Duck. And after graduating from Goddard College in Vermont, Mamet returned to Chicago where he worked in a “boiler room” selling worthless property over the telephone (later to be the setting for Glengarry). As he began writing plays, he says, he sometimes sat on the benches at Lincoln Park while he wrote and overheard the old men conversing on the benches around him.
Mamet, who wrote Duck Variations in his early twenties, is now the age of the characters in the play. In our post-show discussions (APT provides Talk-Backs after most performances) a recurrent topic is: How accurate is the young Mamet’s portrayal of seniors? It’s a question that usually provokes some spirited debates!
(To read what international critics have had to say about the play, click here.)
Would you like wine or beer with your Duck?
APT’s production of Mamet’s comedy The Duck Variations, which premiered in 2013, is back for two special performances in August.
On Wednesday, August 19, you can see the play at the Buckeye Lake Winery in Thornville. A “Happy Hour” of wine and imported cheeses begins at 6 pm, with the performance following at 7 pm. Click here for additional details.
On Thursday, August 20, we’ll be in the special event room at Woodlands Tavern in Grandview. Performance time is 8 pm. Come early for a meal, and/or enjoy drinks and a snack during the show. Click here for additional details.
The Duck Variations features Equity actors Jonathan Putnam and Geoffrey Nelson. Read what audiences have had to say about the show here.
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree
It’s just taking up space, isn’t it? Well, here’s your opportunity to earn brownie points with Santa: APT is looking for just such a tree for our holiday show. It doesn’t need to be two stories tall, though!
And you can take the donation off your taxes. If you have such a tree, please contact us here.
The title, cast, dates and venues of the holiday show will be announced soon: Stay tuned to our website or Facebook page for details.
APT is pleased to announce that it is the recipient of three grants for our 2015-2016 season: one from the Community Arts Fund of the Columbus Foundation for general operating support, a second from the Ohio Arts Council in support of a spring tour and a third from the Hazelbaker Foundation sponsoring APT’s membership in the GroundWork Group. The GroundWork Group helps nonprofits minimize operational challenges, so they can focus on their core missions, especially through the utilization of technology.
Read any good plays lately?
APT’s second volunteer Play Reading Group has been meeting over the summer, reading and discussing scripts for future production.
We liken the work of the Group to prospecting, because most of the plays are unfamiliar to us. Some are good, some are bad, but a few are pure gold.
This summer, we’ll read between thirty and forty scripts. A number of these are brand-new, but there are also plenty that are decades old (both The Duck Variations and Talking Heads fall into the latter category).
Interested in volunteering for a future Play Reading Group (it’s fun–and prior theatrical experience is unnecessary)? Look for an announcement on our website and on Facebook once the next PRG has been scheduled. If you’d like to suggest a script for consideration, please contact us here.
Just who is Alan Bennett, anyway?
American audiences are largely unfamiliar with Alan Bennett, author of APT’s Talking Heads, but he is famous in Britain.
Bennett, who grew up under humble circumstances in Leeds (which might be compared to growing up in a midwestern city in this country–say, Columbus), studied history at Oxford and taught medieval history at the university for several years.
In his free time, Bennett performed sketch comedy with the Oxford Revue. In 1960, he collaborated with Peter Cook, Dudley Moore and Jonathan Miller on a satirical revue entitled Beyond the Fringe, which was the hit of the Edinburgh Festival and subsequently of the West End in London and Broadway. Almost overnight, Bennett became famous. Giving up academia, he turned his attention to writing full time and, on occasion, acting.
In the past fifty-five years, Bennett has written extensively for television, film (The Secret Policeman’s Ball, A Private Function) and the stage. He is also the author of several memoirs, novellas, short stories and essays.
His best-known television work is his collection of monologues under the collective title Talking Heads, six of which were broadcast by the BBC in 1987 and six in 1997. Although originally created for the small screen, these critically-acclaimed playlets have been produced in theatres all over the English-speaking world. A double-bill of seven of the monologues was performed Off-Broadway in 2003 and ran for 200 performances, and Talking Heads has twice been produced in London’s West End. (APT’s production features three of the solo plays.)
For the stage, his best-known plays are The Madness of George III (1991) and The History Boys (2004), both of which have also been made into films (the latter under the title The Madness of King George). History Boys won both the Tony Award for Best Play in New York as well as the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Play in London, among many other awards.
As Charles McGrath noted in the New York Times:
“In England these days, Alan Bennett is increasingly regarded as a national treasure. He’s the literary equivalent of the Queen Mum, or would be if the Queen Mum had also been homosexual, quietly acerbic, a bit of a lefty and a conservative curmudgeon both, and a prose stylist of disarming grace and sly humor.”
To read more about APT’s production of Talking Heads, click here. Or to read what audiences have said about the show, click here.
Playwright and APT Board Member Vivian Lermond‘s Shorelines, a collection of short plays, received a public reading in April for our New Works Series. Since then two of the plays have been selected for production: “Myrtle Beach Sunrise” by the Women in Theatre Festival in Hawaii, and “Getting Lucky” by the 4th Street Theatre Summer Shorts Festival in Chesterton, IN.
The excellent cast of Shorelines are also in high demand! Look for Ken and Catherine Erney in SRO’s production of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Jeffrey Hatcher this October (each of them gets to play Mr. Hyde at some point in the play). Josie Merkle recently appeared in CATCO’s staged reading of Sticks and Stones by Cory Skurdal and finished filming an original short, The Archivist. Chuck Gillespie (who also volunteered for APT’s marketing committee) traveled to California this summer to play the lead role in The Music Man for the Modesto Performing Arts Association.
Board Member Ann C. Hall, a Professor of English at Ohio Dominican University, will present a paper at the Arthur Miller conference in Brooklyn in October. Some of her graduate students from ODU’s new M.A. in English online will also be attending.
Actor Ed Vaughan (Tales from the Grave) wrote a play entitled Indemnify, which was given a public reading as a part of APT’s New Works series this spring. Look for a second reading of the revised play, now called The Deuce of Clubs, sometime this fall. Two other scripts by area playwrights will also be scheduled for readings.