Sept. 14 – Oct. 7, 2012
By Dr. Endesha Ida Mae Holland
Directed by Verneice Turner & Tim Kennedy
The Mississippi Delta… the birthplace of playwright Endesha Ida Mae Holland, and or as she refers to it in this staggering memoir: “a testament to African-American inferiority”.
A tumultuous cast of characters – matrons, preachers, drunks, good-time girls, carnival barkers, and freedom marchers, among others – circle the towering, tragic figures of Aint Baby (a laundress, midwife, and miracle worker) and her daughter, Phelia, who escapes sexual abuse at an early age into a life of stripping, prostitution, and ultimately the civil rights movement of the 1960′s. Through it all, Phelia recalls the inspiration of Ain’t Baby, who worked her way from the cotton fields (for $0.35 a day) to a position as a “Second Doctor Lady” to the community of white doctors who deferred to her midwifery skills. Buoyed by Aint Baby’s resilience and strength, Phelia escapes the killing fields of Greenwood, MI, earns academic triumphs, and finally achieves fame as an author.
In the play’s most potent moments, harrowing episodes are tempered with humor and tenderness. Calamities and indignities happen on “calm balmy days.” Watching Aint Baby delivering a woman’s thirteenth baby and saving the mother’s life is a moment of exhilaration for Phelia and for all of us. The three actresses who paint the portrait of Holland’s Mississippi break into earthy song at the least provocation, and even the saddest of their stories comes with a wry sense of humor; and the audience shares Phelia’s sense of horror and wonder as she struggles with a South that can be even warmer than the weather, then kill without warning or reason.
Nov. 9 – Dec. 2, 2012
By Jon Elston Directed by Scott Behrend
The Mayans predicted it… paranoid radio show hosts eagerly promoted it… blockbuster movies have been made about it. Now it’s here: the morning of December 21 st , 2012. And everything appears normal on this clear, sunny, and not terribly hectic Friday morning at the I-90 Angola Rest Stop. Then it starts to snow. But hey, it’s winter in Buffalo – that’s no shocker, right? But then something that looks like a small glacier (…that’s not possible, surely?) rolls up the Niagara River and over the Northtowns, and keeps rolling… and suddenly, the Blizzard of ’77 sounds like mild May picnic in Delaware Park.
…Just what is happening out there? That’s the question on the minds and tongues of the last eight denizens of the Angola Rest Stop… the final employees and travelers who waited too long to clock out or move on, or just barely made it off the road in time, and now are stranded for the duration. (And exactly how long will that be? Or will the snow (which seems to come out of the ground just as much as it’s falling from the sky) ever let up?).
An intrepid stock broker is desperate to make it downtown and to the aid of his wife (his 2011 Evoque has let him down in this inclement weather). An increasingly restless salesman nervously eyes the skies and wonders what kind of a message God might be trying to send him. A socially awkward performance artist rues the Flash Mob happening that’s been aborted in the wake of the storm, and rues the shiftless post-college youth that she’s been squandering. An estranged father and farmer hovers over his ailing teenage daughter as he frets about his flock, left on their own in the blizzard. A lonely restaurant manager refuses to abandon his post without permission, while a Border Patrolman’s mind reels at the horrors he’s already witnessed on the Rainbow Bridge… and an atheist Physics professor preoccupies herself by trying to decipher the inexplicable parade of numbers appearing on the screen of a depowered cash register.
As temperatures drop and tempers rise, desperate strategies to escape the Rest Stop are undertaken (and fail), and new and surprising threats loom at every turn. The menacing weather is not the only danger lurking outside the doors of the Rest Stop… something sinister and possibly unearthly stalks the grounds, keeping the survivors confined, while madness slowly encroaches from within. What initially looked like just another rough WNY winter gradually begins to take on the appearance, indeed, of hell on Earth…
Feb. 1 – 17, 2013
By Annie Baker Directed by Scott Behrend
PRODUCTION PRESENTED AT 710 MAIN THEATRE.
Five small-town strangers leave their comfort zones and come together in Marty’s “Adult Creative Drama” community education course. Instructor Marty is boundless in her invention and enthusiasm, though she has never taught a Theatre class before. Newly minted divorcee Schultz seeks adventure and validation (or maybe just wants to be around people). Lauren is a rudderless teenager who half-heartedly participates, despite her claims that she wants to do some “real acting”. Theresa is a “real actress” – or at least has been trying to be a real actress in New York City – but now has returned to rural Vermont, stinging from rejection and romantic disaster. And James is present… well… mostly in a display of moral support (Marty is his wife).
Novice Acting Coach Marty offers this motley crew no end of exercises, games, and self-reflective assignments to sink their teeth into: they pose as trees, beds, and baseball gloves; they perform emotional scenes using only words like “goulash” and “ak-mak”; they pretend to be one another, telling each other life stories (or as best as they’re able to discern). They write deep, dark secrets (anonymously) on scraps of paper and listen, sitting in a circle on the floor, as the confessions are drawn at random and read aloud.
“I’m so excited to get to know all of you,” Marty tells her four students at their first meeting. Eight weeks later, there has been laughter and conflict… discoveries have been made… alliances and flirtations are formed and discarded, and new ones evolve in their place… and each of these five strangers has, indeed, come to know one another – and themselves – much more profoundly and intimately than they ever would have suspected.
March 1 – March 24, 2013
A World Premiere Play by Donna Hoke Directed Kristen Tripp Kelley
Married PhD scientist Marjorie has been trying to get pregnant for years, while her single, identical twin Josephine has three children by three different fathers. Fed up with infertility and pressure from her otherwise ideal husband Aidan to have children, Marjorie starts to wonder: is it so wrong to not want to be a parent? Aidan – never fully at ease with being adopted himself – isn’t ready to give up his quest for a biological child. When Josephine offers egg donor surrogacy as the “ideal” solution, salesman Aidan gives the pitch of his life and convinces his hesitant wife to inseminate Josephine personally – in their living room – an awkward scenario which prompts a recollection of a long-ago encounter that sheds new light on Aidan and Jo’s unspoken bond.
Aidan and Jo bond over the resulting pregnancy, but Marjorie is unable to connect to the idea of motherhood. When baby Joseph is born early and with serious health issues, Aidan embraces his new role as a father, but Marjorie’s inability to accept the situation is obvious, particularly to sister Jo and their mother, Kay, a dubious role model for motherhood herself. As fears over Joseph’s prognosis increases, the insecurities that brought the sisters to this point come to the fore… and Marjorie’s crisis of faith may prove insurmountable…
The decision that Marjorie and Josephine arrive at makes for the potent resolution to this unique and moving family drama…
April 19 – May 12, 2013
By Sarah Ruhl Directed by Derek Campbell
Instead, she cleans a doctor’s house. Lane, the woman with a medical degree and no interest in vacuuming her own carpets, inhabits a world as white and squared away as a tucked-up bed with hospital corners.
The good doctor has her own problems: her husband Charles is about to leave her for a much older, terminally ill, hopelessly charismatic patient he’s fallen madly in love with. (No one might have known, except for Lane’s sister discovering a little pair of red underwear in the neglected laundry.)
From the living room to the seaside, from black to white, fantasy tangos with reality as the characters of this “metaphysical Connecticut” search for solutions to their tangled lives. Fresh as a green apple, Sarah Ruhl’s The Clean House asks those with a sudden desire to order the universe: Cual es el chiste? – And leaves them a hint to the answer.