Next up for the Bobcat Players is the wonderful drama, The Drawer Boy, written by Michael Healey. Set in the rural landscape of Ontario, it focuses on the life of two old friends, Morgan and Angus, who own a dairy farm. Fresh from a theatre troupe in Toronto comes young Miles, a brash method actor who wants to immerse himself in farm life before assuming a role. It doesn’t take Miles long to see that Angus is damaged and that Morgan fiercely protects a secret from their past. This is a beautifully drawn character study of loss, friendship, and forgiveness in which a young actor learns that the most meaningful dramas do not necessarily take place on the stage.
I stopped in to a rehearsal this week and was immediately moved by what I saw. This show is already inspiring--which is quite a feat without yet having a set, costumes, or even lines memorized. I truly think this show will be the greatest artistic gem hidden in our 2018 season, so I really encourage you to order your tickets as soon as you can. You do not want to miss out on the beauty being brought to the Ed Schaughency Theater.
In order to get to the heart of this production, I interviewed my good friend, Josh Antoon--who also happens to be the director. Josh has been a board member for the Bobcat Players since 2016 and is the head of our technical committee. He is an active performer as well; Josh last appeared onstage for us in Tom Griffin's The Boys Next Door, and he will take on the leading role in our fall show, Noel Coward's classic Blithe Spirit. Take a look below for his insights on The Drawer Boy:
Casey: This is your first show as a director for the Bobcat Players, but it's not your first time directing. Can you tell us a little bit about your background beyond the Bobcats?
Josh: Most of my theatrical career has been as an actor. I received a BA in Theatre Arts from Washington & Jefferson College and an MA in Theatre Education from Emerson College. I've been involved with several theatre companies throughout the Pittsburgh area for the past 15 years, including Robert Morris University Colonial Theatre, Actor's Civic Theatre, Comtra Theatre, Red Barn Theatre, New Castle Playhouse, and Little Lake Theatre. In addition to acting in productions, I enjoy supporting theatre all around the area. My first production with the Bobcat Players was 2013's production of Old Love. As I've gotten older my interests remain as an actor, but I've always had a desire to jump into the deep end and hone my skills as a director. While in college I directed several "scenes" within the context of the classroom, but this is my first full production since graduate school, where I directed Eric Bogosian's Suburbia. Since then I've continued to direct small pieces, and also co-direct, but The Drawer Boy allows me to return to the helm of a full production.
Casey: What drew (pun intended!) you to the show and what would you say to encourage audiences to come to see it?
Josh: From the moment I finished the first read of The Drawer Boy, I knew it was a show I would be very much interested in directing. First, I am drawn to the intimacy of the show. It is a small cast (only three characters!) that takes place in one locale. Plus, that one locale is on an isolated farm, so the action of the play is truly just centered around these three characters. Because the cast is so minimal, the audience spends a lot of time with each character, and this helps grow the connection between character and audience. The audience gets to know what makes these characters tick and grow and feel. It's quite amazing. Secondly, I was drawn to the relationship between Morgan and Angus. Two men that grew up together, went off to World War II together, and have been running the farm together since the war. The audience will find out about their past, Angus' memory loss, and how that affected Morgan. I really want to get into more, but I don't want to spoil it for the audience members! One phrase that has stayed with me in reading and re-reading the play: is it right to lie to the ones we love to protect them.
Casey: You mentioned having a sparse set construction in our previous conversations. Will the whole show have that type of feel and what can audiences expect to see?
Josh: The vision of this set is a bit different than what our audiences are used to seeing. Our audience is used to seeing a typical set with flats used to recreate an apartment, a house, a restaurant, etc. This show is set in one locale, Morgan and Angus' farm. The farm house will consist of one platform taking up approximately half of the stage. The remainder of the stage is the yard of the farm. The smaller platform will work with the idea of intimacy and closeness. After two weeks in rehearsals, that platform doesn't have a ton of room and is a bit of a challenge for the actors! In addition to a non-typical set, the audience members may be surprised to see a few different lighting effects. Hopefully these will add to setting the atmosphere and time.
Casey: What do you think is the greatest challenge you and the cast face with this show, and why do you think it's such an important show for the Bobcat Players?
Josh: At first read, one would think the biggest challenge is that there are only THREE CHARACTERS for an entire show! But the story and dialogue are so compelling that the small cast actually works with and helps with the play. The biggest challenge with this show is mainly its genre. The Drawer Boy isn't a fast-paced farce or a laugh out loud comedy, so I believe the audience is going to be in for a bit of a surprise. At its heart, The Drawer Boy is a dramatic piece. There are comedic moments (especially in the first act), but act two is largely a drama with serious consequences from actions taken by the characters in act one. The relationship between Morgan and Angus is sweet and touching, yet bitter at the same time. It is exciting and sad to see how their lives change and develop over the course of the show. On the other hand, this is exactly what makes The Drawer Boy so vital to our 2018 season. This show is important because it is different, both from the rest of the season and the majority of the shows that the Bobcat Players produce. In my opinion, it is important for a theatre company to have a variety of shows to expose to their audiences, and The Drawer Boy is a perfect play for our audience to experience. Ultimately, I hope that our audiences will be moved by this simple story of transformation and the power of storytelling.
Tickets are available now for The Drawer Boy, which runs September 20-23. All performances begin at 7:30 pm, with the exception of Sunday shows which begin at 3 pm. As always, our tickets are a bargain at only $10 and seating is general admission. Purchase yours online, in person at the Hostess Gift Shoppe in Beaver, or reserve with our box office by calling (724) 494-1680.
Oh, and you're probably also wondering how to pronounce the title. The first time I heard someone say "The Drawer Boy," I thought they didn't know how to read. But never fear--we're here to help our lovely patrons! "Drawer" is pronounced in two syllables, like "Draw-ER," rather than "DROOR," like the storage item you shut on your dresser. Would it help if I tell you someone in the show draws? Stay tuned for our next blog entry in two weeks, featuring a behind the scenes interview with the actors!