ADVOCATING FOR THE ARTS: MARIE J. KILKER, Ph.D. – End of Summer 2014

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MARIE J. KILKER, Ph.D. — End of Summer 2014

—- ADVOCATING FOR THE ARTS

This new occasional column is all about appreciating efforts and their effects in all the arts, but especially theater (my specialty) and especially on Florida’s Suncoast and mainly

affecting Sarasota and Manatee Counties with lesser extensions to the Bay Area. Hope you like it! Keep me appraised of what you do that you think should be praiseworthy here!

GOTTA VAN PRODUCTIONS, which specializes in solo performers (like co-founder Anne Morrison) and sometimes will consider duets, is now an official, federally-recognized not for profit organization. This means you can make tax-free contributions to the organization. It’s holding a get acquainted session on Sunday, Sept. 28, at The Starlight. (That was formerly Broadway Bar. Many of you will remember when the original Broadway Bar hosted small troupes like Random Acts, so be sure that the newest version of the place can handle theater.) David Coyle, co-founder and manager, will handle memberships and publicity. You can also get from Gotta Van and United Solo Festival not only announcements but also newsletters, and special offers for SaraSolo 2015, A Festival Celebrating the Solo Performer, to take place next Feb. 21, 22, 23 and March 1. Subscribe at [email protected] with “Subscribe 001” in the Subject line. Be one of the first to support this promising venture now and next year.

TWO CHAIRS PRODUCTIONS debuts Oct. 2 at The Players, the group’s venue until Oct. 12. Tennesee Williams’ masterpiece THE GLASS MENAGERIE will be a classic beginning of Elliot Raines’ dream-come-true. That consists of presenting, at least yearly, a modern classic by a master dramatist like Williams and Arthur Miller (the latter probably next to enter Two Chairs’ repertoire). Elliot Raines deserves credit for going against the tide of having production values take over stages. The name of his company indicates the plays it does will be well written with memorable characters and defined plots. Despite the lack of frills, the productions will not just be acted-out narratives. Raines stresses, like Williams, that THE GLASS MENAGERIE is a “memory play” with a remembering narrator (Tom Wingfield) who enters the action. Raines believes the central character is Tom’s mother Amanda, and certainly it’s usually been a star turn. But some would argue it’s his sister Laura, the star of the short play THE GENTLEMAN CALLER, that was extended and heightened to become THE GLASS MENAGERIE. Kudos to Raines and company members for a pre-season treat. It plays Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2.

THANKS TO FATHOM PRODUCTIONS we were able to see Tennessee Williams’ other masterpiece, A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, during an on-the-spot filmed performance at the Young Vic in London. Because it was done in the round and on a turntable, the play wasn’t edited like a film as so many “live” broadcasts are. We viewers saw the same thing we would have seen if we had been in the intimate theater. I remember the first show I saw there decades ago about an 18th century rebellion. Author Robert Shaw (yes, the actor best known for the film THE STING) drew parallels with the revolts happening in Europe and the U.S. at the end of the 1960s and into the ’70s. The Young Vic was fashioned into a three-quarter round for the production, which featured young Vanessa Redgrave. I remember that at the end she and her fellow conspirators were hanged—yes, right on stage. Of course, that was the reason for a fourth of the round not being surrounded by spectators. Instead there was a curtain strung across the area so that the bodies would fall behind it. I presume the actors made a soft landing but the hanging was still ghastly and the lack of a curtain call kept up the illusion of their actually being hanged.

THE LAST TENNESSEE WILLIAMS play to be thankful for was an Asolo Late Night performance of the rarely seen TWO CHARACTER PLAY. Mysterious, challenging, but with the author’s typical poetic prose. Congratulations to Kim Stephenson and Kevin Barber, the Conservatory students who played brother and sister acting our their pasts and new present. What parts of either were real, what dramatic fiction? One could see why the play was developed from an earlier script Williams entitled OUT CRY. I remember following the author’s attending performances in Chicago at the former Ivanhoe, as I arranged to go on a weekend’s leave from doctoral studies. Williams was most gracious to the many audience members who spoke to him at his table in the restaurant surrounding the performance space.

YOU’RE NEVER TOO OLD to take the stage. Venice Theatre will let you do it as a member of its Silver Foxes. Florida Studio Theatre has a special Improv group for golden agers. And judging from selections like MORNING’S AT SEVEN, Manatee Players has roles for “the experienced” on its stages all season. Good for all!

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To Contact Marie J. Kilker directly, click here for email form: EMAIL

Marie J. Kilker holds an interdisciplinary doctorate, Speech-Theatre, English, emphasizing dramatic literature in the Western World supported by theatre theory, history, criticism, and literary oral interpretation. She taught on all levels from second grade to graduate and adult education, administered nontraditional degree programs as an award-winning academic adviser, developed funded grant proposals and research, held editorships and moderated college publications, published in academic and popular outlets, led and contributed to panels, directed theatre and educational TV shows, founded a literary magazine. Since the ‘90s, she’s been a member of the American Theatre Critics Association and written criticism, reviews, and articles for Sarasota and national publications.

For Dr. Kilker’s current reviews, go to www.TotalTheater.com  (Regional “What’s New” or Archives) and AisleSay.com.

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