While the course of the pandemic defies prediction, local theaters are adjusting offerings to provide more options to audiences, including virtual theater and hybrid combinations, adaptable to changing conditions.
PLAYERS GUILD OF DEARBORN TO HOLD AUDITIONS FOR DURANG ONE ACTS
The Players Guild of Dearborn will conduct online auditions, by appointment, and for members only, on Nov. 16 for an evening of Christopher Durang one act plays. Additional auditions will be held Nov. 17 if needed.
To renew or become a member, go to the group’s website, playersguildofdearborn.org, to download a form and membership information.
The three one acts are “Mrs. Sorkin,” “For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls,” and “The Actor’s Nightmare.”
“Mrs. Sorkin,” a one-woman show, features a middle-aged suburban woman scheduled to give a speech on the meaning of theater. However, she has lost her notes, and, relying on her faulty memory, she decides to wing it, creating an endearing and amusing performance.
“For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls,” a parody of Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie,” has a cast of two women and two men.
It features Amanda, a fading southern belle, who tries to prepare her hypersensitive, hypochondriacal son, Lawrence, for a “feminine caller.” Lawrence, who is terrified of people, draws solace from his collection of glass cocktail stirrers.
Ginny, the “feminine caller,” is hard of hearing and overbearingly friendly.
Tom spends his time in movie theaters, where he keeps meeting sailors who “need to be put up” overnight in his room.
Amanda tries to face everything with “charm and vivacity,” but sometimes she just wants to hit somebody.
The third one act, “The Actor’s Nightmare,” feature three women and two men.
The show begins with George, who has casually stepped onstage, being told that he must replace another actor, who has been in an auto accident.
He is cloaked in a Shakespearean “Hamlet” costume, only to find himself in a scene from Noel Coward’s “Private Lives.”
As he fumbles from one missed cue to another, the show shifts to “Hamlet,” then to a what might be a scene from Samuel Beckett’s “A Man for All Seasons.”
As the show becomes more and more confusing to George, he finally delivers the right line, which leads him to the executioner’s axe meant for Sir Thomas More, which denies him a hard-earned curtain call.
The Durang one acts are slated for January 2021, and have the contractual flexibility of being performed live or virtually, depending on pandemic precautions. If COVID-19 conditions prevent a safe rehearsal environment, the show may be moved back or canceled.
For audition information, contact casting governor Denise Kowalewski-Tucker at [email protected]
OPEN BOOK THEATRE COMPANY OFFERS ‘WHAT BROUGHT ME HERE’
Trenton’s Open Book Theatre Company offers its third one-to-one virtual theater offering Alyson Shelton’s “What Brought Me Here” through Nov. 23, starring actor Lindel Salow of Dearborn, and directed by Wendy Katz Hiller of Ann Arbor.
Each performance is 10 minutes long, and is performed online, in real time, to one person at a time, to create the intimacy of a live performance, via Zoom.
Salow plays Kevin, who is leading a 12-step self-help group for the first time. As he tells his story, and what brought him to this point in his life, he reveals the connections he has made that allow him feel less alone.
Salow said while it has been challenging to rehearse online via Zoom, it has been exciting to try some new.
“It is a reminder that theater can continue throughout the pandemic,” he said. “It may be smaller and quicker, but is no less immediate, informing or thought-provoking.”
Salow said he has learned to create a theater space at home which allows him to screen out all distractions.
“I allow the emotion of the piece to drive it, with the audience member as my scene partner, rather than just a static observer,” he said.
Shelton, who wrote the play on commission for OBTC, said watching Salow’s performance and Hiller’s direction online during the rehearsal process has been rewarding.
“It is a bright spot in my life during these incredibly challenging times,” she said. “I hope the audience has an experience that takes them out of their lives for a moment, and transports them away from our world of COVID and being distanced from the communities we love.”
Shelton said it is inspiring that OBTC has taken on the challenge of developing new works for virtual theater instead of waiting for a return to normalcy.
“I am always inspired by those who are able to tap into the times we are in and create something new and fresh,” she said.
Hiller said it felt good to be back in a theater environment, even if it was online.
“I’ll admit that I was a bit nervous about rehearsing over Zoom, but it’s been great, and I am excited to be working creatively again,” she said. “Directing on Zoom is not very different from directing in person, and it brings a naturalism and truth to the performance.”
Hiller said the actor is addressing the audience member directly, instead of another actor onstage, which makes this type of virtual theater experience unique.
“The actor is talking directly to you,” she said. “This creates an immediacy and intimacy that I hope will be immediately effective.”
Tickets are $20, which provides a 10-minute time slot and a Zoom link. For more information, go to openbooktc.com.