In the context of public gathering restrictions for the coming weeks, Heartwood Theater has re-calibrated their spring performance season and will be presenting a mini-series of five (possibly more) play readings, streamed live to audiences beginning, April 4.
“Guys and Dolls,” the youth musical collaboration with Lincoln Academy, was canceled just prior to opening earlier this month, with new plans to present next fall. Henrik Ibsen's “Rosmersholm,” scheduled to open late April, will also be included in Heartwood’s 20-21 season. Summer Camp 2020 and a late July/early August production of “Pride and Prejudice” are still on the schedule, assuming health recommendations allow for gatherings at that time.
In the meantime, to keep audiences and actors engaged, Heartwood has devised The Latent Theater Project (Latency is defined as a "delay of data" – the theater's metaphor for both current internet wobbliness and the desire of artists to get back to making art). Drawing from a family of actors in and out of state, this series brings many familiar faces to audiences, who can “tune in” from home, using the Zoom platform.
The series will begin with Arlene Hutton's “Last Train to Nibroc,” read by actors Stephen Shore and Helena Farhi. This sweet romantic two-person play, first produced by Heartwood in 2011, delighted audiences, nightly. Set in 1940, charming young flyer Raleigh meets bookish, missionary-to-be May, on an eastbound cross-country train. In three scenes set over a year or so, the two overcome their differences and find a way to begin their budding relationship.
Additional readings include “Creditors,” “As It Is in Heaven,” “Bloomsday” and “Shipwrecked.”
“Creditors,” by August Strindberg, is a masterful chess game between an artist and a teacher, in love with the same woman.
“As It Is in Heaven,” by Arlene Hutton, was a sellout production (with added performances) at Heartwood in 2012, performed in the atrium at Skidompha Library. Set in a Shaker community with an all female cast, the play explores faith, community and fellowship.
“Bloomsday” by Steven Dietz was seen by Heartwood audiences in 2018, in the Poe Theater. Seeped in the world of James Joyce's Ulysses, Broadway World describes this memory play as “... filled with sweet charm … mixing the past with the present.”
The series will conclude with Donald Margulies' “Shipwrecked! An Entertainment—The Amazing Adventures of Louis de Rougemont (as Told by Himself).” According to the New York Times, “The Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright Donald Margulies scampers to the defense of good old-fashioned yarn spinning with ‘Shipwrecked.’ The breathless story of a Victorian gentleman [and] seafaring wanderer springs to life like a theatrical pop-up book. The audience is left to judge whether he is an inspirational figure touched by imaginative genius or a mere con man.”
Artistic Director Griff Braley invites audiences, “Join Heartwood on this adventure. While the doors are closed and stage lights are down, we want to thank many people for messages of support, donations, and interest in our work. We realize there are many priorities and needs in our community right now; our aim is to offer innovative, engaging programming to help fill the temporary gap in local arts opportunities and maintain a connection with actors and audiences.”
To RSVP and watch these free readings, visit Heartwood’s website www.heartwoodtheater.org. No need to call or email, just follow the very simple instructions on the website to access the readings via Zoom. Information will also be posted on Heartwood’s Facebook.
Due to the nature of this rapidly evolving project, titles and dates could potentially shift.