This weekend I checked in on four theatre productions in town---four! That's a personal record, and I'm proud of it, but I'm writing to say they were all quite different, and each had a whole lot going for it.
On Thursday night I saw Tomas Kubinek, the "Miracle Man" at the Millibo Art Theatre.
He can put a glass of wine on his forehead, drop down, do a backward somersault while humming "It's a sin to tell a lie" and playing on the ukelele, remove the wine class with his knees, then drain it holding the glass between his teeth. I had not seen that before. He is a true clown, innocent, skilled, endearing, companionable with an edge of menace, anarchy and danger. He got four hunky guys to get in touch with their feminine sides while flying balletically over their heads. He did some stupid magic and then some dumbfounding magic. He got us out into the great outdoors. He was a true and false miracle man!
On Friday night I went to Colorado College for their production of Arnold Wesker's historic and rarely performed 1959 play, The Kitchen. Rarely performed because it requires 30 actors and a working restaurant kitchen large enough to plausibly feed 1500 diners in one hour. It's a terrific play, and it was brilliantly orchestrated by Andrew Manley, and impeccably costumed by Jan Avramov, rising to a crescendo of mechanical frenzy, then sinking back into a numbed exhaustion.
On Sunday afternoon I slipped into Dracula at the Fine Arts Center-- a handsome production that resembled a late Victorian salon painting. It was old fashioned theatre on an old fashioned stage, and that is surprisingly new and rare these days, and just as comfortable as it used to be.
Then Sunday night I was off to the technical rehearsal of our very own Psycho Beach Party, which is looking beautiful and silly, just as it should, on an actual little beach in the Bon Vivant Theatre. It opens this week. Here some of the cast get notes in the lobby while their waves are being adjusted on stage.
So what I learned this weekend is that we have, in our very own town, something like a theatre renaissance--though you can hardly call it that since we have never ever had so much. It's worth noting despite my full dance card I still couldn't get to everything worth seeing : a Hamlet at the Black Box theatre, and Rattlesnakes at the reliably excellent Stage Ensemble Theatre (SET).
When you consider there are 4 and more such different and distinctive productions going on here, despite the nearly complete absence of local media (The Gazette apparently does not consider culture as part of its promotion of good values), you have entered into the unprecedented and nearly miraculous. It's not all good news. Tomas Kubinek can fill a theatre of 1200 in Italy on one night ("they put the word out and everyone comes," he said), but he probably won't get close to that after a three week run here . We actually don't do clowns in America ,except maybe in congress. The production of The Kitchen played six times over one weekend, so about 600 people got a chance to see it --it's another example of conspicuously elite theatre at a privileged private school with more resources than any other outfit in the region, and the only one that doesn't need an audience to survive. None of the productions were as fine as the best of what I saw in London and New York this year (A View from the Bridge at the Young Vic, and Dry Land in New York). But even so this was all good theatre, real theatre, different theatre. Let it not be said theatre is a dying art in our town. It's alive, it's kicking, it's almost a scene!