News from G.L. Horton

I'm back from Kansas City.

I got off to a bumpy start when I arrived Thursday March 3rd to discover that there weren't any rehearsals for me to attend before the Saturday performance. After a few moments of rage, panic and beat-my-head-against-the-wall "Why Am I Here?" I decided to let go of it and assume that Dionysus had me in his arms and all would be well-- which it was. Lovely performance, splendid direction, engaged and enthusiastic audience. Bright talented people to hang out with and talk shop.

My play "Under Cover" had a huge cast from the Kansas City Rep's Collaborative Lab: Jan Chapman, Diane Bulan, Jena Peterson, Adrian Alexander, Laurie Hamilton, Jimmie Wright, Michael Porter, Paul Orwick, Gary Campbell, Richard Buswell, Joseph Serrano-- all terrific actors.

How often do you get to see a big cast with good actors in it down to the smallest three line role?!! When we did it here at the Cambridge Center for Adult Ed as part of a set of political plays relating to the Israel/Palestinian conflict we pre-recorded the voices for the paddle puppet nightmare figures I'd envisioned, b/c I couldn't imagine getting together a huge cast for a small condensed expressionist play. We also skipped the puppets in Cambridge-- voices had to do all the work. But at MATC "Under Cover" got to use all the acting talent assembled to do the other plays, two of which were also "epic" (David Robson's "Ed Rex" and John Ray Sheline's "Pearl").

"Under Cover" at MATC also had perfect paddle puppets!-- designed by the director, Heather Nisbett-Loewenstein, who designs puppets for theatres and TV, and is Artistic Director of StoneLion Puppet Theatre. The dozen actors held up their paddle puppets in front of their faces and embodied all the heroine's fears-- and they sure scared me!

Alas, the performance didn't construct the giant Animated Burqua which is the central image of the play, or have the facilities to do any of the lighting effects, so I'm still waiting for an opportunity to see it "for real" with all the technical bells and whistles--- but no one could ask for a better workshop style presentaion, and I felt very very happy--- proud and humbly grateful at the same time.

No rehearsals meant I was free to attend the numerous play writing panels and take notes, which I propose to share with my on line colleagues as quickly as I can spell check them. I also enjoyed hours of great conversation in various KC bars, especially with playwright/professor David Crespy, (chair of the Playwrighting Symposium: New Ways to Wright) writers Jacob Holder and Dawson Moore, (they also arrived on Thursday: the rest of the writers showed up closer to Showtime) and the producer of the New Ways event, Karen Paisley, and her actor-director-filmmaker husband, Bob. Karen is segueing from a position as Director of Outreach and Development at KC Rep to that of Artistic Director of a new KC troupe, the Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre. Listening to Karen talk about her new company's plans and prospects is enough to turn anyone from a cynic to a Believer. I hope Everybody listens!

[Read G.L. Horton's notes on the Mid-America Theatre Conference of 2005.]


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