A rich harvest of fall theaterWritten by Lauri Donahue | | firstname.lastname@example.org
A rich harvest of fall theater awaits in Toledo.
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner explores one woman’s fascination with Afghani history, culture and politics in ”Homebody/Kabul,” part of the UT Theatre Department’s season of ”Conflict, Courage & Compassion: Our World on Stage and Film.”
The play opens in London in 1998. In a 45-minute monologue, the character called ”Homebody” (played by Sue Ott-Rowlands, interim dean of arts and sciences) talks about Afghanistan, her life and marriage, and buying hats for a party. Finally, she decides to leave for Kabul. The rest of the play is about how her husband and daughter investigate the mystery of what happened to her there.
Director Elysa Marden, Artistic Director of the WorkShop Theater Company in New York, worked with Ott-Rowlands in Italy. This is her first Toledo production. One challenge is the characters speak in a Babel of seven languages, including Dari and Pashto.
”We’ve had experts in to help with the languages,” Marden said. ”Even if you don’t understand the words, you know exactly what’s going on.”
The play blends drama and comedy.
”I think the best drama is drama in which you get to laugh,” Marden said. ”An old Afghan saying is, ‘joy and sorrow are sisters.’”
”Homebody/Kabul” runs Nov. 4-20 at UT’s Center for Performing Arts. Tickets are $9-13;(419) 530-2375.
”The Odd Couple”
Neil Simon’s 1965 classic comedy ”The Odd Couple” had a long run on Broadway, followed by a successful 1968 film and an ABC TV series. It opens November 4 at the Toledo Rep.
It’s the story of roommates Oscar (a slob) and Felix (a neat-nik), their poker buddies, and the British ”Pigeon Sisters” upstairs.
Director John F. Hopkins, who recently directed and performed in ”My Way” for the Rep, said the two men take on the characteristics of a married couple. When their living arrangement finally breaks up, they talk about getting a ”divorce.”
The actors who play the two lead characters, Jeff Albright and John DuVall, have been friends for more than 20 years. Hopkins says the chemistry between the actors is huge.
The cast also includes Charles Crocket, Eric Collier, Zach Lahey, Brad Riker, Maribeth Hill and Cindy Bilby.
”There are some scenes that no matter how many times I’ve read or seen them, I still laugh,” Hopkins said. ”I’ve never snorted before this; now I snort.”
”The Odd Couple” runs Nov. 4-20. Tickets are $16-18;(419) 243-9277.
”Atomic Fission Tour”
”Return to the Forbidden Planet” is a rock-and-roll sci-fi musical loosely based on Shakespeare’s ”The Tempest”: the Starship ”Albatross” encounters a storm of asteroids (to the tune of ”Great Balls of Fire”), the science officer flees with the only shuttle craft and the ship is pulled toward a mysterious planet where Doctor Prospero lives with his daughter Miranda and his robot Ariel.
It’s a bit of a departure for Shenandoah Shakespeare’s Blackfriars Stage Company, a touring troupe from Virginia that will present ”Forbidden Planet” along with ”Much Ado about Nothing” and ”Richard III” at Owens Community College.
Shenandoah specializes in presenting plays as they were performed in Shakespeare’s own time. Audience and actors share the same ambient lighting, music is performed on-stage with acoustic instruments (including a cheese grater in the case of ”Forbidden Planet”), there are no elaborate sets or props, and actors routinely shatter the ”fourth wall” to interact with the audience.
Artistic Director Jim Warren, who is also the co-founder of the company, said performing this way gives the audience a sense of community.
”They become the citizens of Messina, the soldiers in the army. There’s a more immediate connection: we’re all in this together. That’s what makes live theater so exciting, and it’s why it should still be thriving in an era of CGI dinosaurs — it’s a lot more fun. Shakespeare wrote the effects and the sets into the scripts.”
The stripped-down productions also allow the Blackfriars actors to survive a grueling schedule of shows in 60 cities a year. The 11 performers (three of whom are veterans of previous tours) all sing and play at least two musical instruments.
Christopher Seiler of Sandusky plays Dogberry and Antonio in ”Much Ado,” Bosun in ”Forbidden Planet,” and Stanley and Ensemble in ”Richard.”
Warren said some actors decide after a year of touring that ”I never need to do that again.”
”But others go back to New York and waiting tables and decide that a year-long acting job isn’t so bad,” he said.
”Much Ado About Nothing” will be performed Nov. 10, ”Richard III” on Nov. 11, and ”Return to the Forbidden Planet” on Nov. 12. All shows are at
7:30 p.m. Tickets are $8-15; (567) 661-2787.