11 July 2007

SPF Preview, Or: Yes, I Actually Still Blog About Theatre Sometimes

Ah, summer. Sweltering subway platforms and these monstrous mosquito bites that are making my arms so extra sexy. Also, summer Fridays. My love of which I won't get into, in case any of my bosses still read this thing (despite their assurances that the Kitten Offensive has successfully driven them away). For those of us in the arts, it's also supposed to be a slow season, a chance to catch up on, I dunno, massive piles of reading you haven't been getting to so well lately? But in case you're bored, how about sixteen plays in four weeks? That'll keep you busy okay.

That's right, it's time for the Summer Play Festival. The first four shows (they run four a week for four weeks) opened tonight, and my first visit (of, I believe, nine) will be tomorrow afternoon. SPF eats up my life for a couple weeks, as if producing a show and finding an apartment weren't enough, but, on the up side, it might actually get me blogging about theatre again. (Bosses reading this mess got me slightly gun-shy. Previous SPF playwrights reading about me leaving their good plays at intermission got me a little gun-shy, too.) I don't plan on posting reviews of SPF shows unless I have something very good to say - with very abbreviated rehearsal periods and an in-house workshoppy attitude that's not at all communicated to the public, these shows deserve support and encouragement. Also, when you write things about people's shows on the internet, they read them.

What I can do, though, is point out a few shows I know a teeny bit about in advance, and encourage you to see them. And any other shows that strike your fancy. At $10 a ticket, it's some of the cheapest theatre in the city. Quality varies like crazy, but, again, ten bucks! These are a few I think have a particularly good chance of being good:

Lower Ninth by Beau Willimon (week 1) - Beau's a kick-ass writer. His Farragut North, sort of like really good "The West Wing" on stage, plays Second Stage next season. Beau's writing isn't of the style I usually drool over - I'm pretty sure he's a straight realist - but his writing is compelling and funny and full of energy, and if Lower Ninth isn't sold out, you should get yourself a ticket.

Cipher by Cory Hinkle (week 2) - All I know is that it's directed by Kip Fagan, whose work I always seem to like. Kip also has great hair. We don't know each other, though, so that may have just been really creepy to say.

Novel by Anna Ziegler (week 2) - I know the director (Michael Goldfried) and like him and his work, and I know two of the actors: Jeff Biehl, who was the best thing about Greedy at Clubbed Thumb and was the devil in Hell House; and Annie McNamara, who was brilliant in God's Ear and everything else I've ever seen her in.

Flesh and the Desert by Carson Kreitzer (week 4) - I don't think I actually know any of Carson's work, but I've heard nothing but good things.

Missing Celia Rose by Ian August (week 4) - This one's directed by Adam Immerwahr, whose strong and imaginative work I got to know in college, and features the wonderful Andy Phelan, who was in Honor and the River at Luna Stage. (And also Measure for Pleasure somewhere in Florida, the production of which I was slightly to thank for. Long story.) I'm very much looking forward to this, for the play and for accosting these guys whom I haven't seen in a while in the hallway after the show.

[Update: Read Rocco's take on the goodness of the SPF casting here.]

(I know at least a few of the people whose names I dropped as reasons to see these shows read this blog. This is weird. Hi guys. Let's get coffee.)

Also, John left me a message after he saw Gypsy tonight, and said it really is as good as all that. If you're in Chicago, please see the new Tracy Letts play on my behalf. I'm going to bed now.


Mark said...

I love Beau's writing too. And I think that, though it has the trappings of realism, that some of his work has an existential, expressionistic quality. Very subtle, but I think it's there. I've missed all the readings of Lower Ninth, but the upside of that is that this is the first play of his I will have seen without reading it first.

Moxie said...

I've also heard good things about Bixby Elliot's play Blueprint. Pretty good cast including Nicole Lowrance and Peter Strauss.

Jaime said...

Good to know! Are there cast lists anywhere? I only know about Jeff, Annie, and Andy because they've told me.

Anonymous said...

also, a dear friend of yours who shall remain anonymous (mostly because I can) stage managed "Cipher" at the Brown New Plays Festival in '06. It's a really solid play; I'm excited to see what this production brings to it.

Moxie said...


That's the press release with complete casting. Calleri Casting did a really bang-up job, I think, and it finally looks like what SPF casts should be.

Jaime said...

Moxie - Thanks! I've actually thought the casts were usually pretty great. Matt Stadelmann and Maria Dizzia were both in plays last year, and there were some new (to me) people who were also great. Now if only the plays were uniformly up to snuff...