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Loney's Show Notes
By Glenn Loney, Report for The Humana Festival of 2015
About Glenn Loney
Caricature of Glenn Loney by Sam Norkin.
Please click on " * " to skip to each subject in this index:
CELEBRATING NEW AMERICAN PLAYS IN LOUISVILLE… *
PASSING GLANCES AT SHOW SCENES SEEN AT ACTORS THEATRE: Jen Silverman'sTHE ROOMATE [****] *
Colman Domingo's DOT [**] *
Jeff Augustin, Diana Grisanti, Cory Hinkle, & Charise Castro Smith's THAT HIGH LONESOME SOUND [*****] *
Pig Iron Theatre & Gregory S. Moss's I PROMISED MYSELF TO LIVE FASTER [**] *
Charles Mee's THE GLORY OF THE WORLD *
The Famous Ten Minute Plays--Always Longer Than Ten Minutes… Patricia Cotter's RULES OF COMEDY [***] *
Gary Winter's SO UNNATURAL A LEVEL [***] *
Steve Yockey's JOSHUA CONSUMED AN UNFORTUNATE PEAR [***] *
Thanks to HUMANA, Actors Theatre Louisville saluted April with the 39th Edition of its Annual Festival of New American Plays.
Play Lovers & Theatre Goers can be grateful to Humana for at least two Major Acts of Generosity: The Humana Festival itself & the Fact that this Health Care Giant has not attempted to Repeal Obamacare!
Curiously, although Actors Theatre Louisville has always welcomed New Scripts from all over the Nation, encouraging New Voices & Cultural Diversity, this April the Play Selection seemed a bit Skewed.
Only a few weeks before--at the ATCA Conference in New Orleans--some American Theatre Critics had expressed concern that Gay & Lesbian Plays were being Neglected.
Les Waters--Artistic Director of Actors Theatre Louisville--has remedied that Oversight with something approaching Overkill.
Not only were at least three of the New Productions Gay Themed or Gay Tinged, but one of them might even give Homosexuality a Bad Name…
At a time when Decent, Honest, Right Thinking, Christian Americans are invoking their God Given Right to refuse to provide Goods & Services to anyone with a Life Style that their Religious Beliefs have taught them to Condemn, it is Good to Discover that Les Waters will surely Bake a Wedding Cake for Jack & Jake!
Best Buffet, Fantastic Florals, Historic American Artifacts: An Unfortgettable Evermore Evening!
That Good Old Southern Hospitality is Fabled around Louisville; perhaps nowhere so much as at Evermore, the Neo Classical Estate of Jessica & Neville Blakemore III.
For the Past Several Humana Festival Seasons, the Open Hearted Blakemores have hosted a Beautifully Appointed Get Acquainted Reception on Mockingbird Valley Drive.
Not only are the Floral Arrangements amazing, but the tasty Hors d'Oeuvres would make Mme. Charles DeGaulle jealous--were she still alive…
What's more, Evermore--Not to be confused with Nevermore & all those Peter Pan Themed Plays, Musicals, & Movies--is tastefully Overflowing with American Antiquities, for Neville Blakemore is a Connoisseur of Continental Collectibles.
Every April--when I fly down to Louisville from Manhattan, via Denver or Austin or some other Light Years Distant Hub City from my Actual Destination--I spend almost all of my Networking Opportunity Time in once again photographing the Blakemore Americana Collection.
The Formal Dining Room has Hand Painted Wallpaper featuring Vintage American Scenes.
But how Surprising to Discover--among the many Handsomely Uniformed Officers or Smartly Suited Gentlemen & the Elegantly Gowned Wallpaper Ladies--some 19th Century Americans who look very much like Equally Elegant African Americans. But long before they generally Had the Vote…
Big Bucks for Rebecca Gilman, Steinberg/ATCA Award Winner for Luna Gale…
Including a Handsome Plaque, Rebecca Gilman won a $25,000 Check for her New American Play, Luna Gale.
This Handsome Windfall is the Nation's Largest New Play Award.
Though it carries the Anagram of the American Theatre Critics Association, the Real Funding comes from the Harold & Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, delivered every April by genial Jim Steinberg, in the Pamela Brown Theatre of Actors Theatre Louisville.
But the Steinberg Stipends do not stop with just One Winner!
Two Citations--we do not call these All American Playwrights Runners Up--are annually awarded as well.
Checks in the Amount of $7,500 each--plus Plaques--were given to Lucas Hnath & to Nathan Alan Davis.
Hnath won for The Christians & Davis for Dontrell, Who Kissed The Sea.
In fact, The Christians made its Human Debut last season on the Brown Stage.
There's also a Stand Alone ATCA Osborne Award, this year given to Paul Coash, for Veils, which focuses on two Muslim Women, one American & one Egyptian, attending the American Egyptian University in Cairo, on the Eve of the Arab Spring.
ATCA Members resoundingly thanked both Jim Steinberg & William "Bill" Hirschman, who for some years now has had the Daunting Task of reading Scores of Submitted Scripts.
Hirschman Has Help: there's also a Hard Working Play Reading Committee…
Nonetheless, ATCA has resoundingly honored his Due Diligence in Play Reading & Reporting: Bill Hirschman is now the President of ATCA!
How Lucky Can You Get? Sharon's New Roomate Is Not Only a Vegan, But Also a Lesbian!
Yes, The Roomate needs some Work, but that's what the Humana Festival is all about.
Here, far away from Nit Picking Broadway, Novice Native Playwrights & Battle Scarred Dramatists can test their Plot Potentials & Audience Engagement free from Ben Brantley's New York Times Shit Scalpel.
Just imagine! In far off Iowa City, Divorced & Fiftyish Sharon [an Uncertain but Determined Margaret Daly] needs Someone to Share the Rent on her Old House.
Thanks to the Internet, Bronx Born & Bred Robyn [a Pot Growing & Scam Operating Tasha Lawrence] appears on the Iowa Scene.
Well! Just imagine Sharon smoking Her First Weed! She is determined to Make This Work!
Her Almost Instant Transformation into a Dealer & Wheeler is an Iowa Hoot.
Playwright Jen Silverman studied Playwriting--or should that be Playwrighting--at the Iowa Playwrights Workshop.
Well, they do say: Write about What You Know!
Silverman has also studied at Brown & is now at the Juilliard School.
So how about some Divine Providence at Lincoln Center?
Mike Donohue directed Daly & Lawrence, but where did he get those Pot Plants?
"Looville" isn't Downtown Denver after all…
Dump The Second Act! First Half of Dot Is Frisky Fun in Midst of Debilitating Dementia…
After being Initially Exposed to a Lesbian Vegan, it was for me only a Small Step Beyond to some Unhappy Gays in West Philadelphia, where the Frantic Shelly [a Bleached Blonde African American Sharon Washington] was Coping with Christmas & a Dotty Mother who was Losing It to Dementia.
The First Act was something of a Laff Riot--with a Dark Undertow--but it was amusing enough to Stand on Its Own.
This it should have done, as the Second Act was a Disorganized Disaster.
Marjorie Johnson was both Arresting & Testy as Dotty, but Who wouldn't be if She were Losing Her Mind?
Add to that the Complication that Dot has a Gay Grandson--in an Inter Racial Arrangement--with the Added Agony of finding the Perfect Blue Spruce that is needed to make this a Perfect Christmas…
Meredith McDonough directed, although it remains a Mystery why she elected to have so many Blazing Down Lights inserted into those West Philadelphia Ceilings?
If they did not Fry Dotty's Hair or Brain, they certainly would have Shriveled that Blue Spruce…
Erin Courtney's I WILL BE GONE [***]
Ghosts, Ghost Towns & Tommy Knockers in Mono County, California…
What a Surprise to come all the way to the Kentucky Bluegrass--just a Week before the World Famous Kentucky Derby--to find Myself mythically or metaphorically flown back to My Native California on Wings of Memory & Playwriting Fantasy.
When one of Erin Courtney's Confused Characters referred to "Tommy Knockers," I thought I was back on Native Ground.
I come from Grass Valley, in Nevada County, where once the Tommy Knockers bedeviled the Hard Rock Cornish Miners who toiled in the Deep Dark Tunnels of the Richest Gold Mines in the World.
Long before the Quartz Gold Veins in the Hard Rock of Grass Valley & Nevada City ran dry, Ghost Towns had been created nearby where Panning, Placer Mining, & Sluicing had already exhausted the Mother Lode.
Over in Mono County, Erin Courtney stumbled on some Equally Abandoned Ghost Towns.
One of them Floated over the Bingham Arena Stage as a Mini Model, but it had to be Raised & Lowered to Evoke its Historical/Hysterical Effect.
Some Bleached Board Sidewall Shacks could have avoided the Performance Slowdowns caused by that Admittedly Haunting Wooden Diorama.
Unfortunately, there were some other Prop Roadblocks that could have been Eliminated, had this Small Town Everyone Knows Everyone's Business Production been staged in the Spacious/Capacious Pamela Brown Theatre, where all the rapidly moving Short Scenes could easily have been mounted on a Revolving Stage.
Instead, it took almost as long to Place Some Props as it did to Play the Scene in which they Briefly Appeared.
Kip Fagan directed, with Scenic Elements by Andrew Boyce.
Erin Courtney's Dramatic Imagination once again reminded Any in the Audience who grew up in Small Towns how Soul Killing it is to be Stuck in the Stix, whether in Mono County or Iowa City…
A Broken Guitar, A Broken Heart: Foot Stamping Bluegrass & Blues, as Years Go By…
Well! A Kind of Musical/Mythical Salute to Old Kentucky, devised by the Actors Theatre Louisville Acting Apprentice Company.
That High Lonesome Sound is not only Kentucky Bluegrass: It could be the Sound of a Heart Breaking many years ago when a Rough Brother Broke the Back of a Fragile Sister's Beloved Guitar.
Foot Stomping Energy blended with Unromantic Rural Ruins; Soft Hearts sprouting in Hard Soils; Then & Only Yesterday…
Profiled with Original Music that somehow sounded Divinely Derivative, this Lively Production was staged by Pirronne Yousefzadeh--who has an Armload of Manhattan Credits.
This Was Not an Homage To Charles Ludlam, Although It Attempted To Be Ridiculous Theatre…
The Late & Much Lamented--but also Hairy Chested--Charles Ludlam liked to Dress Up like Maria Callas--as well as a Urinating Fireman, pissing into an Onstage Fire Bucket.
But Ludlam & his Ridiculous Theatre Company were always "Sending Up" or Affectionately Mocking Precious Pretension & "Fine Feathers."
Not so the Self Selling Dito van Riegersberg, a Co Founder of Pig Iron Theatre…
As the Super Elegant Drag Queen Ah Ni--also with a Hairy Chest--he is Intimately Involved with the Desperate Search for the sadly missing Holy Gay Flame.
Clue: Ah Ni--pronounced Annie--has stolen it to Destroy the Race of Homosexuals, but an Order of Intergalactic Nuns enlists a Young Gay Man--named Tim, possibly short for Timid--to Find the Flame.
Ah Ni moves with a Slinky Sexual Suggestiveness through the Strange World of the Pig Ironers, where Giant Dildos are Right at Home.
His Majesty's Royal Alter Ego is Martha Graham Cracker, known as "The Tallest Drag Queen in the World."
At least Dito van Riegersberg is not an Alexander Graham Belle…
For those ATCA Members who think that Gay & Lesbian Theatre is not getting Enough Attention, Dito van Riegersberg & Pig Iron Theatre are certainly Doing Their Part!
Nonetheless, I do think that Charles Ludlam would be Much Amused--but not Exactly Flattered--by the Queenly Design Pretension of the Queen Bee's Elegant Costume.
Unlike Dito van Riegersberg & the Often Trimly Outfitted Charles Busch, Charles Ludlam Dressed for Laughs, not for Ru Paul's Version of a Miss America Pageant.
Even when Charles Ludlam was only a Company Member of Director John Vaccaro's Theatre of the Ridiculous, he already had a Wonderful Sense of Ridiculous Pretension.
But when Charles & John quarreled about Ridiculous Interpretations, while rehearsing The Conquest of the Universe, he & Producing Pal Everett Quinton split.
Charles Ludlam found his New Identity by Reworking Universal Vaccaro: He called his new Cartoonish Farce: When Queens Collide.
Charles is perhaps now Best Known for The Mystery of Irma Vepp, but his Finest Hour came when he won a Guggenheim to create Eunuchs of the Forbidden City.
When I last saw him--heading up the aisle after another Fabulous Broadway Show--he looked Wonderfully Slimmed.
"Charles! What's the Secret of your New Diet?"
He looked sadly at me: "Glenn, it's called AIDS."
Had He Lived, Thomas Merton Would Now Be One Hundred Years Old: Trapping for Trappists…
Mee's Big Love was first seen in the Victor Jory Theatre of Actors Theatre Louisville years ago, but it has now been Translated to Manhattan.
Mee was then known as Charles L. Mee, Jr., if I recall correctly…
Unfortunately, it was not possible to see this New Mee, for the Van was leaving for the Airport.
In his Heyday as a Trappist Monk at Our Lady of Gethsemane--not far from the Kentucky Derby & the Humana Festival--Thomas Merton achieved a Temporal Fame with his Philosophical Construct, The Seven Storey Mountain.
Trappists do not Talk, but they Bake Great Bread.
So I once went to Our Lady of Gethsemane to sample the Gregorian Chants & the Hot Out of the Oven Bread!
Tom Merton was Long Gone, but the Music & the Meditations lingered on…
Mee has here celebrated His Mertonian Trappist Sufi Legacy with a Series of Toasts, which were on view on the Actors Theatre Louisville Lobby Video Monitor.
One Thing Is Certain: Mee is not You…
A Rabbi, A Priest, & A Playwright Go Into a Bar: How Do We Get a Laugh From That Set Up?
Guy is a Stand Up Comedian, but he Hires Out to help the Unfunny discover Laff Secrets.
Caroline is Militantly Unfunny: she couldn't Tell a Joke if it Killed Her.
Unfortunately, Guy cannot help her. But maybe She can help Him?
This Story Concept might well be Expanded--there are Thousands Out There who just Don't Get It.
Maybe Caroline & Guy could open a Laff Klinik?
What's in That Body Bag? Who Wants Coffee? Why Are These Hasmat Suits Too Big?
Hurricanes are Bad Enough; Tsunamis are Even Worse…
But here's an Insurance Office filled with Clueless Men in Yellow Suits.
An Intern is trying to Make Coffee, but it's not merely a matter of Just Add Water.
Then there's that Thing in the Body Bag…
This is Funnier Than FEMA, even without George Bush to tell "Brownie" what a "Great Job" he was doing in NOLA, aka The Big Easy & The Queen City.
Who Wants To Live Forever, If You Have To Gobble Pears To Achieve Immortality?
Joshua wants to Spend Eternity with his Girl Friend.
To That End, he ingests some Immortality Pears.
But he has neglected to ask her how she might feel about being with him Forever & a Day.
Christian Churches, Popes, Cardinals, Fundamentalist Preachers, Mega Churchers: They all promise The Gift of Eternal Life, if only you will accept Jesus Christ as Your Personal Saviour.
Joshua--like so many Devout Catholics--has not Thought This Through.
Who--in His Right Mind--would want to spend All Eternity with His Own Relatives?
Not to Mention Girl Friends, Fiancées, Wives, & Mothers in Law…
Also: Those Pears look rather Squishy!
Maybe Tropicana can devise a Method to Market Pears Everlasting?
Copyright © Glenn Loney 20015. No re-publication or broadcast use without proper credit of authorship. Suggested credit line: "Glenn Loney Arts Rambles." Reproduction rights please contact: email@example.com.
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