Wilkes-Barre, Pa. - Gaslight Theatre Company will open its 2016-17 season with Playroom: Garage on July 14 in its new performance space at the East End Center in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. The season also includes performances of Toast!, The Pallbearers, and Next Fall.
Gaslight Theatre Company, traditionally known for its unique use of venues and pop-up performance spaces, is taking root this season in a year-long rental of a commercial space in the East End Centre located on Heinz Road in Wilkes-Barre Township.
“Producing all of our shows in one space this year will make for some fun design possibilities. The location is convenient to our audiences from Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, and the surrounding communities and will allow Gaslight to provide evenings of improv theatre, poetry readings, workshops, musical acts, and additional programming between our major shows. In all, it will be an exciting season, rich with art for and from Northeastern Pennsylvania,” noted Gaslight’s Artistic Director, Matthew Hinton.
In addition to finding a more permanent home, Gaslight has also expanded their season to include four major productions, something the Company has not yet explored before. To start, Gaslight presents its fifth installment of the original one-act series, Playroom, created by Hinton. Playroom uses the same set design to inspire a handful of playwrights to craft individual one-acts around the same space, resulting in an evening of short-form theatre that quickly ebbs and flows through thought-provoking and laugh-out-loud moments. This year, the Company moves to the garage for eight fascinating stories written by the region’s most talented playwrights including Okla Elliott, Emily Halbing, Jennifer Hill, Lori M. Myers, B. Garret Rogan, Rachel Luann Strayer, Lukas R. Tomassacci, and Hinton, himself. Playroom: Garage will run July 14-17 and 21-24, 2016.
Following Playroom, Gaslight will present Toast! Conceived by local author, playwright, and director David Parmelee, the play is composed entirely of online reviews of products purchased on a popular shopping site. Not a word has been added—only cuts made for brevity. The depth of human experience revealed in 175 short evaluations of toasters, coffee makers, juicers, mousetraps, condoms, and toilet plungers is almost incredible, resulting in a hysterical, pathos-filled look into the modern human condition. Gaslight returns to the Scranton Fringe Festival (Sept. 29 - Oct. 2) to premiere Toast! with an additional weekend of performances Oct. 6-9, 2016.
In January, Gaslight will again present an original piece written by Eastern Pennsylvanian writer and educator B. Garret Rogan. The Pallbearers is a darkly comic take on social growth and decay and is the fourth collaboration between Rogan and director David M. Reynolds. The Pallbearers runs Jan. 19-22 and 26-29, 2017.
Gaslight will close out the season with Next Fall by Geoffrey Nauffts under direction of Brandi George. This 2010 Tony nominated play takes a witty and provocative look at faith, commitment, and unconditional love. While the play's central story focuses on the five year relationship between Adam and Luke, Next Fall goes beyond a typical love story. This timely and compelling new American play forces us all to examine what it means to "believe" and what it might cost us not to. Next Fall will run May 18-21 and 25-27, 2017.
Tickets for all four shows will go on sale July 4 and can be purchased online at www.ticketfly.com. Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for students/seniors. Seating is general admission and limited so advanced purchases are highly recommended. For more information, please visit www.gaslight-theatre.org.
Tell us a bit about yourself:
I am a playwright, educator, theatre artist, aspiring novelist, avid tea-drinker, lover of all things British, and occasional knife-thrower.
What can you tell us about Drowning Ophelia (without revealing spoilers)?
Drowning Ophelia is a play that I wrote. Oh, you want more? Well, there’s a bathtub in it. And a girl named Ophelia. Really, though, Drowning Opheliais a dark comedy that explores some difficult themes. I set out to write a play about forgiveness, but writing this play reminded me that forgiveness is a process, not a simplistic action. What I ended up with is a play about a woman who is trying to move on with her life while being constantly hounded by her past. Where she ends up on her journey…you’ll just have to wait and see.
This is the East Coast Premiere of Drowning Ophelia. When and where was the world premiere?
The World Premiere of Drowning Ophelia was produced by Repurposed Theatre under the direction of Ellery Schaar in San Francisco, California, October 2013.
What do you find exciting and challenging about having your play produced locally?
Oh, I love having my play produced locally because my friends and family can come see it! Is that narcissistic? Honestly, Drowning Ophelia is very dear to my heart, and it makes me so happy to share it with people I love. I’m not sure any part of this process has been particularly challenging. Anytime you have a play produced it can be a challenge to let go and allow the director and actors to bring their own vision to the process. I am blessed to have extremely talented collaborators taking care of my “baby,” so letting go hasn’t been a challenge at all.
Have you ever worked with Gaslight Theatre Company before? How has it been working with them on this production?
I’ve had the on-going privilege of writing short plays for Gaslight’s PlayRoom Series the last four years. It’s a great joy to have that artistic outlet every year; the greatest gift you can grant a playwright is to produce their work. In that way, I have been doubly blessed by Gaslight. I’m always excited to see what they do with my work and this time around is no exception. Gaslight is full of kind, talented individuals who have a strong desire to produce excellent theatre. Every member of Gaslight has great respect for their fellow artists, and I have felt nothing but support and enthusiasm from each of them. I would work with them again in a heartbeat.
So it turns out that your husband is directing your play. What's that like?
It’s amazing. My husband and I have been doing theatre together for as long as we’ve known each other; we actually met playing Lydia and Wickham in a college production of Pride and Prejudice. We started our own theatre company in 2006 and have worked together as actor-director, producer-director, actor-actor; you name it. This is our first playwright-director collaboration, and I trust him implicitly because I know he does excellent work. One of my favorite things about this process is that he’s trying to keep some of his directorial choices a “surprise” – but he keeps telling me things he didn’t mean to because we tell each other everything, especially when it comes to theatre. I can’t wait to see the final fruits of this collaboration.
Are there any plans for future productions of Drowning Ophelia?
Hmm…I shall only say that I am currently in talks with two individuals in New York City who are interested, but nothing is set in stone.
What is your favorite part of the process so far?
My husband has assembled an incredible cast and crew, so I think my favorite part will be seeing the show in its final state! But my favorite moment so far was being part of the swimming pool photo shoot. That was just plain fun.
What is your favorite line from the play (and who says it)?
“Because it’s tragic and beautiful. Duh.” Ophelia says it and, as you can tell, it’s not exactly Shakespeare, but it is my favorite.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I am so grateful to the people who are willing to take a chance on my play, not just Gaslight or the cast and crew, but everyone who attends Drowning Ophelia. It’s one thing to spend your time and money seeing a play written by Arthur Miller or – let’s face it – William Shakespeare. To take a chance on a barely-produced play by an unknown playwright is to support not only the arts, but the next generation of writers. So thank you from the bottom of my heart. I will endeavor to be worthy of your good faith.
Drowning Ophelia opens this Thursday, January 28, at the Theater at Lackawanna College and runs through January 31. Head on over to our Up Next page to find out how you can see it!