UpstART Theater that Moves will bring something fabulous, something dreamy and something stupid to Ouray County stages in 2019.
Co-founders Kate and John Kissingford plan to produce “fast-paced, perspective-altering, emotionally moving stories” for audiences. Their intention, as always, is to provide opportunities for contemplation, discussion and community connection through entertaining, professional theater performed by a rural/urban collaboration of artists.
The nonprofit theater company recently announced the three selections for its third season. The first two productions at Ouray’s Wright Opera House will be an absurdist comedy, “Fabuloso,” on May 2-5 and Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” on July 19-21. The third production at Ridgway’s Sherbino Theater will be “Stupid F**king Bird” by Aaron Posner on Sept. 19-22.
“Fabuloso” is by contemporary American playwright John Kovenbach, and will be directed by Kate. The cast of four is all new to UpstART. Locals Hadley Gallen and Andrea Sokolowski will join two Denver professionals, John Hauser and John Wittbrodt, for a comedy that “challenges audiences to think outside the box, delights with its quick-paced and witty dialogue, and offers perspective-altering frameworks about human relationships,” Kate said.
Premiering in 2008 in Cape Cod, the play “is a domestic farce about the pleasure in bedlam and a working metaphor for bringing up babies,” according to the Dramatists Play Service summary. Main characters Kate and Teddy “are trapped in a soggy, lifeless marriage. Then, Teddy’s old friend Arthur arrives, bearing chaos, knives, songs and his fiancée.”
The play’s selection is partially the result of feedback from a group of UpstART audience members, gathered in the fall of 2017, to discuss the vision and future of the nonprofit.
“While we received strong encouragement to continue offering challenging material, a request for comedy was received and noted! ‘Fabuloso’ is our response to this community feedback while holding true to the spirit of UpstART’s mission,” Kate explained.
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is the annual selection for the No Holds Bard (NHB) summer production, which presents “Shakespeare as he intended it,” meaning actors have no group rehearsals in advance of the show’s opening, and the interaction is more spontaneous and relatable. Once again directed by John, who is a longtime scholar and coach of this Shakespeare method called first folio, the cast will be led by Skylar Sprague, who played Polixenes, and Dayna Geiger, who was Hermione, in last year’s production of “Winter’s Tale.” Sprague will perform Theseus/Oberon, while Geiger will be Hippolyta/Titania. Former NHB actors Jake Abell and Mitch Slevc will return as Peter Quince and Bottom, respectively, while four Denver actors will play the feuding lovers.
“Local actors of all ages will fill out the largest Shakespeare cast NHB has ever put on stage: 19 in all. It’ll be wild. And rightly so: for us, the play is about the magical, wild world beneath all our appearances of civilization, the magical, wild love that redeems all our quarrels,” John said. “It seems obvious that audiences will love it. This play is so patently delightful, so full of hilarity and magic and wonder, so rife with humor that seems ripped from a sitcom or rom-com written today... we just hadn’t gotten to it until now.”
And then in the autumn, there’s “Stupid F**king Bird” by playwright and theatre director Aaron Posner, the co-founder of the Arden Theatre Company in Philadelphia. Posner has adapted novels as plays and created new variations of classic plays, like with this “hilarious update to Anton Checkov’s 1895 masterpiece,” “The Seagull.”
“Posner’s adaptation is a wild exploration of love and life and art, a tumult that can only barely be contained by a stage,” said John, who directs the Ridgway production of the play. “Each person in this play passionately loves someone who is busy loving someone else. Conrad loves Nina, who idolizes Trigorin, Emma’s lover. Meanwhile, Con’s friend Dev yearns for Mash, who is hopelessly in love with Con. It’s not a love triangle. It’s a mess.
“The main character is Con, a playwright himself, obsessed with finding new forms of theater, forms that get closer to truth (whatever that is) than the old-fashioned plays his diva mother, Emma, has made a career acting in. He knows art can’t save us from heartbreak, though. Maybe it only gets us in deeper. I don’t know. These characters will have to find their way towards their own ways to embrace life as it is, in its sublime pain and its ridiculous beauty.”
For information, visit UpstART Theater that Moves website at upstartmoves.org.