Archive for January, 2010

New Members & the Dionysos Cup

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

by Richard Engling

Kim Boler

Kim Boler

Hilary Holbrook

Hilary Holbrook

I am very pleased to welcome Kim Boler, Hilary Holbrook and Michael Welles as new associate members of Polarity. We met Monday evening at the Heartland Cafe to discuss the company and their potential membership, and they joined us on the spot. I also extended the company’s invitation to Andrea Morales. Andrea has just been promoted to ensemble membership with Halcyon Theatre, so she wanted to

Michael Welles

Michael Welles

discuss it with them before she decided whether to accept our invitation. These four actors were all part of the cast of our recent A Streetcar Named Desire. Huzzah for the new members!

Also, the Dionysos Cup directors and dramaturgs gathered Tuesday night to finalize play selections for the festival. We had 37 plays submitted by local playwrights, and it really was torture to narrow the list to 4 scripts. We read some really marvelous plays. I wish we could be working on more of them. But beyond that regret is the utter joy of being able to work on these fantastic four:

Kabulitis by Keith Anwar. Director: Laura Sturm. Dramaturg: Ann Keen.

Death and Devils by G. Riley Mills. Director: Darren Callahan. Dramaturg: Kaily Anderson

Fertile Lies by Jaime-Lee Wise. Director: Brea Hayes. Dramaturg: Richard Engling.

What Makes the Buddha Smile by Jay Koepke. Director: Sean Kelly. Dramaturg: Jamie Bragg.

The four plays now enter an extended development process that will culminate in a series of staged readings in mid-May.

New Play Heaven

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

by Richard Engling

Richard Engling

Richard Engling

I am in new play heaven. This weekend the world premiere of Chuck Palia’s The Society of Adventurous Women plays in our space at the Josephinum. Chuck has been a long-time collaborator. We first workshopped his script in a playwriting class I taught a few years ago. Then Chuck designed the beautiful and imaginative set for our production of Ghost Watch. When the opportunity came to produce Chuck’s Society with the students of the Josephinum Academy, we jumped at it. Since Chuck had conceived of the play as something to fill the need for more roles for high school girls (Chuck is a retired high school drama teacher), this was a perfect fit. 

What makes this heaven for me is the process by which Chuck’s script has steadily improved. I was able to team him up with director David Fehr and dramaturg Sarah Baughman who have collaborated, critiqued and suggested ways Chuck could make the script better. In addition, they taught the Josephinum girls acting skills, rehearsed the show and brought it to the stage. It’s been a beautiful process, and everyone involved has been truly enthusiastic. 

And speaking of which, I just read the latest revision of Lisa Rosenthal’s The Good Harvest. Wow. It is so powerful. You will be amazed. I am absolutely loving my partnership with Lisa. (I am directing her world premiere).  She is tremendously receptive to suggestions for improving her script. Very hard-working. And she’s been collaborating with us on this script since the last Dionysos Cup, when it was directed by Laura Sturm in the Festival. 

Lisa helped me cast the show. We just completed that, and we’ve got a tremendous group of actors. It took us some extra time to find the right actor for the role of Davis (the father). This past Sunday, four members of the cast came in to read with the men auditioning. Lisa kept watching our actors who were already cast. “I’m so happy to see them work,” she told me. “They’re so perfect. And they are ours!” We go into rehearsals with them February 7th

And at the same time we are reading new scripts for this year’s Dionysos Cup, which will happen in May. What a tremendous collection of plays we’ve received! It’s a great joy to begin the process with these plays and playwrights—but also a great sorrow that we cannot do more of them. There are so many that are so deserving! It makes me wish we were a bigger company with more resources, more money, and more space. Ah, well… We’ve already got an embarrassment of riches. Two world premieres with playwrights who are part of the Polarity family. Did I mention Chuck also designed and built his own set for Society? It’s gorgeous. If you want to read more of what we are up to and how you can help, click here.