Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Ibsen"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

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note: entire contents copyright 2006 by Larry Stark

"Ibsen: A Festival of Scenes"

Directed by Ted Kazanoff

Lighting Design by Marc Olivere Stage Manager Max Patrick Flaherty

Scenes from:

JOHN GABRIEL BORKMAN
Gunhild Borkman....June Lewin*
Ella Rentheim.......Sara Ford*

AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE

Dr. Thomas Stockman....Schuyler Hoffman
Peter Stockman...........Arthur Comegno*

A DOLL'S HOUSE
Nora Helmer.......Aga Knutel
Krogstad.......Jeff Hennessy*

A DOLL'S HOUSE
Nora Helmer...............Shelley Brown
Torvald Helmer...Richard Schieferdecker

LITTLE EYOLF
Alfred Allmers.....Paul Shafer
Rita Allmers...Elissa Forsythe*

GHOSTS
Helene Alving...............Sarah Ford*
Ella Rentheim...Richard Schieferdecker

THE LADY FROM THE SEA
Ellida Wangel....Celeste Olivia*
Dr. Wangel.......Arthur Comegno*

HEDDA GABLER
Hedda Gabler....Elissa Forsythe*
Mrs. Elvsted......Shelley Brown

* Members of Actors quity Association

Roughly every year or so since 1995 a group called TK PRODUCTIONS has presented another version of what's been called "Actors Work" --- usually scenes from several loosely related plays, two-character scenes usually, with the same director: Ted Kazanoff. The actors are from Kazanoff's continuing series of workshop/classes, and usually include a large percentage of Members of Actors' Equity, performing briefly under a Project Code allowing them to work, without competing with for-profit companies, in order to stretch their acting muscles in new directions and learn about theater and about themselves. The sparse audiences lucky enough to hear about them learn a lot as well. I certainly did.

The production this year was in observance of the centenary of Henrik Ibsen's death --- eight short two-person scenes from seven different plays that illustrated the playwright's themes and personal cliches, his method of illuminating social issues through the solidly emotional clash of strong personalities, and the opportunities this founding father of modern theater still gives performers to sink their acting teeth into vivid characters.

Here Ibsen dealt with the social stigma cast by legal tangles, with women driven to break away from insufferable marriages --- or, worse, to endure them to avoid scandal --- and with the weight family history can place on children. Characters seemed to be keeping up appearances until they could endure the pretense no longer. When these realistically-played dramas burst upon an essentially artficial stage world, about a century and a half ago, shattering the comfortable conventions of both acting and life, this new style must have been explosive.

I was told that the performers ran a spectrum from new students to some who had been taking classes for many years, but that was impossible to judge from the work itself. The shape of conflicts, the rhythms of responses, the clarity of motivations, all suited to the material at hand, were, uniformly, startlingly alive.

What I saw, in every case, was the work of Ted Kazanoff.

The festival ran only three days, and it may be a year, or even more, before ACTORS WORK XI is even thought about. But whenever it happens, I hope I hear about it in time to attend. Ted Kazanoff teaches Audiences as well as actors, and I don't want to miss his next class.

Love,
===Anon.
(a k a larry stark)


Actors Work X "IBSEN: A Festival of Scenes" (26 - 28 October)
TK PRODUCTIONS
Boston Playwrights' Theatre, 949 Commonwealth Avenue, BOSTON MA
1(617)559-6500

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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