Monday, March 31, 2008

New Directions in Theater

Two recent shows show theater taking some encouraging new directions in the Pikes Peak region.

The first was Rebecca Buric's "Signature" at the Manitou Art Theater. Virtuoso one-person shows are nothing new at this venue; neither are new shows created by MAT producers Birgitta De Pree and Jim Jackson.

But "Signature" was developed at the MAT with Buric, a Boulder-based actress. Last year she auditioned for the annual "10 Minutes Max" show with a short monologue that impressed Jim and Birgitta so much that they (1) put "Signature" on their season calendar, and (2) then worked with Buric to turn her monologue into a full-length show.

(Jim and Birgitta are firm believers in the "schedule it and it will come" school of creation.)

"It was so satisfying," Birgitta told me. "She's an extraordinary actress, but she had no experience creating her own work."

The result was a powerful and heartbreaking piece of theater. As Aida, a young mother and victim of the Serbo-Croatian War, Buric wove together the story of Aida's last moments with old family tales, creating a marvelous sense of color, texture and place. By the end, I felt I'd been on a journey that was as much physical as it was emotional.

I doubt that Jim and Birgitta could turn my life into such riveting theater: In addition to having a story to tell, Buric is a sensational actress, with a winsome manner and a lithe, expressive body. (Aida imitating an old lady was just one of many great touches.) Though Buric played only one character, her focus was so intense that you began to see the people she was talking to.

And last week, at the 40 Thieves Hookah Lounge. Moody Mystery Theatre made its debut with a new adaptation "Alice in Wonderland."

Though the venue made even the MAT seem opulent - were some of the actors making their entrance from the restroom, or was the smoke just making me light-headed? - and piece was as raw as "Signature" was polished, this imaginative production was further cause for hope. The adaptation by director Cyndi Parr and Tammy Smith was very free with the story's details: For instance, there were three Alices, representing different aspects of her personality. But it stayed true to Lewis Carroll's spirit, especially the part of the Lewis Carroll that loved bad puns and general absurdity.

But what was most gratifying to a fogey like me was the cast and the audience. Except for veteran Danine Schell as the White Queen, this was theater of, by, and for young adults. And everything was marked by a spirit of experimentation and collaboration, with belly dancers - including the amazing Frank Farinaro - tango dancers, and drummers. In short, it was a fun, unpretentious evening of theater - just, I hope, the first of many from Moody Mystery Theatre.


Blogger atomicelroy said...

Wow a full month without any posts, hmmm, I guess nothing happened in the arts in the 719 last month.

4:29 PM  
Blogger Mark Arnest said...

What?!? Somebody's still checking this blog?

... I mean, Your patience shall be rewarded, grasshopper.

10:26 AM  
Anonymous Top Furnace Repair said...

Yes, as sad as it is, there are people around who still champion the fine arts

2:57 PM  

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