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May 2011 Artfully Speaking

The Play’s the Thing

Touch it. Experience it. Own it.

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The Great Plains Theatre Conference returns to the metro, May 28th through June 4th, attracting a national group of master artists and premiering the works of new and emerging playwrights.

I’m especially looking forward to it as I have the opportunity to participate in one of the playlabs as I did last year. The playlabs offer the opportunity for playwrights to hear their play performed and receive feedback from groups of other playwrights, directors, actors and the public.

Last year, good friend and Hastings College theatre professor, Jim Fritzler, asked my wife and me to participate in a reading of Fortune’s Child by Mark Scharf, a Baltimore playwright. We had a great time doing the reading and, especially, meeting Scharf and getting to know him while he was in town. We met for one intense rehearsal the day before we performed the play. The actual reading was remarkable as other directors and the general public had the opportunity to ask questions, comment and critique the play while Scharf was present.

This year, Marty Skomal, Director of Progams for the Nebraska Arts Council, is directing one of the plays and he asked me to be a part of that reading. The play is Provenance by Daniel Weber. Weber is a Vice President and Associate Creative Director of the global ad agency, Publicis, in New York City. His play is particularly fascinating and intriguing.

Provenance revolves around a mysterious case of vintage champagne that may or may not be connected to the plunder of Nazi-occupied France by Adolf Hitler’s troops. A French wine expert, a social-climbing film maker, his wine-student wife and a first generation American hotel/vineyard owner are all part of the mystery. In this story of greed, forgery and war, no one presents a true picture of who they really are.

We think the audience will not only enjoy hearing the play read, but will have a good time trying to figure out the truth. At this writing, rehearsals have just begun. Unlike last year’s play with only one rehearsal, Skomal has scheduled several run-throughs and has also traveled to New York to meet with Weber. Other actors involved are Mike Markey, Pippa White and Suzanne Withem. Our playlab performance will be Monday, May 30th at 3:30 P.M. on the Fort Omaha Campus of Metropolitan Community College. The playlabs are free and open to the public.

In addition, evening performances are held throughout the week in venues and cultural sites across Omaha. This year UNO, Creighton, the Holland Performing Arts Center and KANEKO are the locations of these special activities. This year’s honored playwright is Lee Blessing, and two of his plays, Fortinbras and A Walk in the Woods will be presented on Thursday and Friday, June 2nd and 3rd. There are general admission tickets for these evening performances; $15 Adults, $10 Students, Seniors and TAG Members.

How fortunate we are to live in this thriving, theatrical community and to be host to this national event each year!

-end- metroMAGAZINE




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