Even before language existed as we know it, stories were told. They may have been acted out, they may have been danced out the way bees tell how to get to the best pollen fields, but they certainly had a place in primitive societies. As civilizations grew and speaking became the preferred method of communication, stories became an integral part of societal interaction. And the best stories take bits and pieces and weave them into a totally new narrative – often combining elements of horror, humor, and the humdrum in order to make a more powerful statement.
Most of us have imagined embarking on a months-long adventure to exotic places, exchanging our familiar routines for immersive living beyond our comfort zones. Television producer, director, and writer John Marshall lived the dream in 2010 as he, his wife, and their two teenagers traveled and volunteered for six months in a few countries. Marshall’s 2015 book, Wide – Open World, is a plain-spoken, no-indignity barred account of his family’s good and bad experiences of low-budget travel and high-intention goals of helping others abroad while renewing their familial ties.
Sometimes my job is very easy. I get to go see theatre and tell you all the great productions to go see. Right now it’s my pleasure to tell you that if you want to properly invest your time and resources, you will want to check out David Mamet’s American Buffalo, the latest production for Quill Theatre being held at TheatreLAB’s basement theatre (300 E. Broad Street, Richmond, VA 23219).
The oldest form of theatre starts out with the phrase, “Let me tell you a story.” For me, that’s where it all begins. The story dictates the characters, the story is the action, the story defines the conflict.
When I hear that we – the audience – are going to witness a one-person show, I admit I am excited by the possibilities. Whether it is a one-character show like The Belle of Amherst written from the point of view of poet Emily Dickinson; or a multi-character more recent work by Danny Hoch or John Leguizamo, I can’t wait to see it.
Back in the day when I was teaching people how to write, I used an exercise I called “Act Four” in which the students would write what happened after the play ended. It helped them connect with characters and look for ways to build a dramatic arc.
In a series of books, Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson flip that premise on its head and write about what happed BEFORE the story of Peter Pan. How does Peter and Captain Hook become mortal enemies? Where does Tinkerbell come from? How do the Lost Boys come to live in Neverland? And why does that alligator chase Captain Hook so diligently?
This is a year that Firehouse Theatre has promised us “radical change,” and to that end new Artistic Director Joel Bassin has added fringe shows, comedy, burlesque, cabarets, and magic to their usual theatrical fare.
In 2012, Emma Chichester Clark began chronicling the life of her dog in the Plumdog Blog, an illustrated, often cheeky diary in the voice of Plum, her black “…whoosell, a whippet mixed with Jack Russell and poodle.” Plumdog, Clark’s 2015 book, captures all the fun of the blog and is a delight for dog lovers with its engaging illustrations and text that describes a year in the life of London’s busiest, funniest and most world-wise dog.
UPDATE AS OF 6:45 Thursday (10/8)
Thanks to the tremendous response, the taping of Quill Theatre’s production of HAMLET is full. Thanks to everyone who responded.
Molly Hood will again play a modern female Hamlet, heir to an ancient throne, dealing with a feckless mother, venomous stepfather, and crumbling relationship with her female love, Ophelia. The play will be taped for broadcast on WCVE PBS / WHTJ PBS in November.
On Saturday morning, August 8th, to be exact, there was already a line forming outside the Ashland Theatre at 9:00 a.m. Dedicated fans, many in costumes or t-shirts of their favorite character, greeted each other by calling out lines and laughing hysterically at the responses. Most of the audience is made up from local people, but some travelled from Pennsylvania and Maryland to be here.
Was this a revival of a favorite film series? Die-hard Star Wars fans perhaps, queuing up to see a sneak preview of the next upcoming blockbuster?