The start of a new month, and a new season, brings with it the annual Labor Day Page-to-Stage Festival at the Kennedy Center. Monday night’s reading of Darrah Cloud’s OUR SUBURB proved to be a wonderful kick-off; an extended sneak preview of our first world premiere of the new season which will open officially in December, 2013. Presented in the Ken Cen’s newly refurbished Theatre Lab on the 4th floor all while our season-opening production of Amy Herzog’s AFTER THE REVOLUTION was rehearsing on stage at the DCJCC, we were fortunate to have the entire 9 person cast, the entire design team, our playwright, and our great director Judith Ivey on hand for the afternoon long rehearsal process and the evening reading.
About 125 took in the 2-hour long 3 act homage to OUR TOWN. The response was engaged, full of humor, enchantment, stunned silences; a full-plate of theatrical and emotional dynamics. As to how the play pays tribute and simultaneously departs from Thornton Wilder’s original, we’re inviting our brand new student subscribers from the Universities of Michigan, California at Berkeley, and Notre Dame, to share some very first theater-going impressions, even before our first official class later this week. Last week, while I was still in Italy, syllabi were distributed for the course, “A Theatre of Politics and The Politics of Theatre” and students were encouraged to attend the Monday night reading. Many are reading OUR TOWN this week as well. In the comments section below, we’ll read a first round of comments from students soon to get a full-course immersion into the rich waters of DC Theater, with our focus this fall being The Family, the most political institution we know. The family will dominate our thinking this semester as we examine the social and political forces that shape and transform it; how those forces are internalized and re-enacted within the relationships we experience on stage.
As with all blog postings, we invite the community of Theater J e-readers to join our student subscribers in sharing thoughts and impressions about the work and its relationship to other work we’re reading and seeing around town. Our emphasis here is not on critiquing performance or pretending to evaluate talent, but rather to make notice of striking moments, resonant themes, surprises, questions, confusions, and above all, flashes of insight, all in a few hundred words (non-students can write as short as they like!).
Each week we’ll pull out an especially insightful comment and repost it as our “Blog of the Week.” This week’s kind of a preview/try-out week; consider it a pre-season blog and commentary. We’re just trying out responses. In time, confidence of voice and refinement of observation will come.
Until then, happy new season, and Happy Jewish New Year! And Shanah Tova!