Meet the Artists, Part I
Before we get started on this week's deep dive, we wanted to share with you this amazing poster for our upcoming outreach production! We'll be adding a Facebook event soon, but please remember that social distancing is required and masks are HIGHLY encouraged. We will have some on hand, but our supply is limited. Seating will not be provided by the Bobcat Players, so bring your lawn chairs or blankets and we strongly encourage you to support our local restaurants by purchasing takeout to enjoy throughout the show. Pass on the word to your friends and family--we can't wait to see you all again in less than a month!
Over the next three weeks, we'll be introducing you to the shows, the playwrights, and the actors that make up Players in the Park: Quarantine Comedy. In this week's segment, you'll meet the three opening plays: Doing Lunch by Anne Flanagan, The Trouble with Cashews by David MacGregor, and Great Escapes by David Susman. Read more below!
In her own words, Anne Flanagan is the recipient of several writing awards and zero sports trophies. Anne's play Doing Lunch was inspired by her own awkward adventures in Hollywood. Anne's full length plays include Lineage, Artifice, First Chill, Skirts, and Death, Sex & Elves. Her work has been produced and/or developed throughout the USA and internationally. Publications include Artifice (Dramatic) as well as several "Best Of" short play and monologue anthologies. Anne has worked as an actor, inner city schoolteacher, private investigator and nude model - none of which were as exciting as one might think.You can find more about her here.
Her play, Doing Lunch, is a very funny piece in which a screenwriter pitches her script to a pushy agent--who wants to change very component of it--and an aging but arrogant film star--who wants to star in it although she is far too old. We felt this fast and edgy comedy was the perfect opening to our night of Quarantine Comedy, and this script boasts the largest cast, starring Alex Andres, Susan Metelsky, Erin Berger, and Patti Ross. And if you've been around Beaver, you probably know these folks! Alex Andres is a Beaver Councilman who most recently appeared onstage in our last show, A Streetcar Named Desire. Susan Metelsky directs Beaver's high school musical every year and was slated to direct Lucky Stiff, what was to be our final show of the 2020 season. Erin Berger has been an audience-favorite for years and was last seen onstage in A Very Oblonski Valentine. Patti Ross is our artistic director and outreach committee head, who has spearheaded this Quarantine Comedy project!
David MacGregor is the resident artist at The Purple Rose Theatre in Michigan, where seven of his plays were produced. His newest play, Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Fallen Soufflé, opened The Purple Rose's 2019-2020 season. His plays have been performed from New York to Tasmania, and has been published by Dramatic Publishing, Playscripts, Smith & Kraus, Applause and Heuer Publishing. We asked MacGregor for a piece of trivia about himself that might not be found in your average bio, and he gave us this incredible quote: "I have been hung in effigy and had my writing publicly burned."
His play, The Trouble with Cashews, is not nearly so controversial and was inspired by real-life events--in his words, the idea was found while "watching one of my in-laws scarfing all of the cashews from a bowl of mixed nuts." That is the basic premise of the script, and MacGregor said he hopes that this piece will help audiences recognize "the philosophy of 'everyone for themselves' is no way to lead your life. We're all in this together." This clever comedy stars Shelly Cary and Will Gainsborough as a brother and sister duo. Shelly was last seen on our stage in Enchanted April and was scheduled to direct for the Pittsburgh New Works Festival, which has been postponed until next year. Will has been in numerous outreach productions with the Bobcat Players and his last mainstage production with us was The Boys Next Door.
David Susman is an active playwright from Maine, who is also known for his essays and fictional short stories. We also asked him for a little tidbit about himself that wouldn't normally be in his bio, and he revealed that he is very good at making balloon animals: cats, dogs, rabbits, etc. Susman says it's a secret skill that he almost never gets to make use of.
His play, Great Escapes, is a very funny piece in which an old woman escapes from an assisted living facility and makes it to her son's home, who is anxiety-ridden over her breakout. We asked Susman about his inspiration for the play: "Watching loved ones age, I became increasingly interested in writing a play that deals specifically with the challenges of aging. Also, my grandmother was something of a spitfire; though she never lived in an assisted-living facility, it was easy to imagine that if she had, she might have behaved as Lorraine does in my play." This was something that certainly appealed to us in reading his script, and he went on to discuss what he hopes audiences will gain from watching his work: "I hope they see an elderly person who doesn't seem like a stereotype. I hope that they recognize that challenges people face--at pretty much any age--aren't necessarily all that dissimilar. I hope that they feel inspired to raise a little hell. But mostly, I hope they laugh a lot."
We are excited that Dolores Dowlin will return to the stage for Great Escapes! In fact, you may remember her wonderful letter featured on our blog two years ago. Dolores became a board member in 2006 and retired recently, though her legacy lives on through her son, Tom Dowlin, who is now a board member. You probably know him, too--Tom has been doing our posters and website for years, and is finally joining us onstage for this very script! We are very excited to have a real-life mother-son duo perform this piece for you, and we feel they are perfectly cast.
We hope these little teasers have gotten you excited for Players in the Park: Quarantine Comedy! We know we're very thrilled to be sharing theater with you again. Stay tuned for next week's blog, where we'll deep dive into more scripts, playwrights, and performers. Until then, please help us share the word about our show--and stay safe!