I gotta tell ya, putting a play up is an unbelievable amount of work. I’m not bitching here (really, I’m not), just making an observation, albeit a self-evident observation. This is surely one of the reasons that theatre is scarce in our west coast vibey-city, with our below-national-average amount of type-A personalities. That, and the whole Hollywood North thing, but that’s a topic for another post. We’re now at t-minus 12 days until curtain and counting. That, by the way, is something you never say to your actors, unless you take pleasure in watching someone have a panic attack. The rest of us on the production side just grit teeth and start typing faster.
Two epic, immortal, and standard-setting plays in one night. We are very aware that there is a certain amount of accountability when working with such exceptional and revered material, and everyone is putting forth an insane amount of effort and commitment to do justice to the work. I’ve sat in on a couple of rehearsals and I simply can’t believe what I saw. The level that our actors are working at is staggering, I’ve left the room literally breathless every time. I’m so proud, so excited, and so confident in the work that I wish the playwrights could be there opening night to see what we’re doing with their stories.
That’s most unlikely to happen with the first play of the evening, as August Strindberg wrote Miss Julie in 1888. Nevertheless, were his ghost to drop by (I’ll comp you Gus, haunt me), I’m quite sure he’d approve. We waded through many, many adaptations to find the one that suited us, and boy-oh-boy did we find it. Craig Lucas‘ recent adaptation is true to the original work but reads like it was written now, with all the provocation and sexiness that Strindberg intended pushed to the limit. If Gus was still writing plays, they’d feel like this.
Up next in your evening of kick-ass theatre is Dutchman, a fierce and poetic battle of sex and race onboard a New York subway car. It was the last play LeRoi Jones wrote under that name. Shortly after this play was first mounted Malcolm X was assassinated, and Jones became a Muslim, changed his “slave name” to Amiri Baraka and left Greenwich Village for Harlem, becoming the leading American writer of militant black theatre. Dutchman is considered his tour-de-force in a brilliant and prolific career.
I would love to keep gushing about how stoked I am about the progress of these plays, but I just re-read the first paragraph and there’s only 12 days until we open, for crying out loud. I got work to do.
Lyric Stage Project
a gala night of two extraordinary one-act
masterworks of class struggle, sexual desire, and rage.
by LeRoi Jones aka Amiri Baraka
1964 – An erotically charged meeting aboard a
New York subway car between a young
black dilettante and a lovely white
seductress takes a terrifying turn in
Jones’ Obie award winning tour de force.
& Anna Williams
by August Strindberg
Adapted by Craig Lucas
A forbidden flirtation between a
nobleman’s wild-at-heart daughter
and his ambitious valet turns deadly
serious when class boundaries are
shattered and hidden desires unveiled.
& Lori Triolo
Directed by Michèle Lonsdale Smith.
May 9 – 19
THE BEAUMONT PLAYHOUSE
316 w5th Avenue @ Alberta