Thursday night was another wonderful one-of-a-kind evening at the theater, with a tight, well-received performance and a totally unique conversation with strong panelists, and 70+ audience members sticking around (out of 160 in the house) for a stimulating conversation about the sociology of Suburbia, or what we were calling “The Story of Sprawl.” It was also a night we were welcoming back our playwright, Darrah Cloud, who was making another pilgrimage to DC with her family together with the creative nucleus of Half-Moon Theatre Company, her artistic community up in Poughkeepsie, NY.
And it was a night for welcoming 21 new student subscribers who were seeing their first of four shows with Theater J (not counting a passel of optional readings as well) and we’ll be hearing from them in the Comments section below. Last night was their first night seeing a show in DC, and it was the first class session for my University of Michigan-sponsored course (for UM’s “Michigan in Washington” program) on Political Theater. This semester, in addition to students from the Ann Arbor campus, we have students from UC Berkeley and Santa Cruz, Notre Dame, and Carnegie Mellon University who are all here doing political or non-profit sector internships by day and taking at night. The theme for Round 16 of the course: “The Architecture of Community” as we study the “Power and Politics, Dramas and Dynamics of Building Community Through The Transmission of Art” with our case study, starting in March, being “The Middle East Conflict On Stage.” We should learn a lot.
So we’re eager to read what our student subscribers had to say about Our Suburb, particularly after hearing the dynamic discussion between our playwright and professors Mary Corbin Sies of the University of Maryland and Suleiman Osman, from the George Washington University. Both look at questions of suburbanization, how suburbia is depicted in our culture, and the demographic shifts in our nation’s suburbs over the past 75 years. Professor Osman framed the discussion of by appreciating the play’s alternating between a “Utopian” and a “Dystopian” vision of everything right and everything wrong in the American way of life. Professor Sies was interested in the multiple meanings of the word “Humdrum,” picking up on an earlier post of ours that alluded to uses of that word in reviews hugely positive for the original production of Our Town, and, alas, less so for ours. We refer students back for both so they might weigh in, if they so choose.
And, finally, alack, we prepare to say goodbye to our fabulous Our Suburb company. Darrah was just beside herself with joy last night at the warmth of the entire experience; from performance, to reception, to connection with artists, audience, staff. It’s been a superb collaboration, as all our mushy, wonderful facebook toasts can testify. Enjoy a few!