Tag Archives: William Hayes
PART TWO: One month into the nation-wide shutdown of live communal theater due to COVID-19, South Florida companies, like those in so many other regions, are trying to write Act Two with little clue how Act Three will play out. In this first of two parts, leaders from local companies and venues a limn this tale of confident hope and chilling fear, cold balance sheets with seven digits in the red, and blue sky imagining what theater will look like in two, three, 18 months.
PART ONE: One month into the nation-wide shutdown of live communal theater due to COVID-19, South Florida companies, like those in so many other regions, are trying to write Act Two with little clue how Act Three will play out. In this first of two parts, leaders from local companies and venues a limn this tale of confident hope and chilling fear, cold balance sheets with seven digits in the red, and blue sky imagining what theater will look like in two, three, 18 months.
In-depth report: Sets still standing on stages are silent pledges that these productions and theater itself in South Florida will resume – albeit in what many believe will be a different world. But what that cultural world will look like for audiences and artists could not be more uncertain, say theater professionals who have had to rethink and rethink again their plans. It’s different from when other disasters have struck Florida like hurricanes; this one may be open-ended.
The world premiere of Joseph McDonough’s Ordinary Americans needs more work but it has enough promise and fine performances at Palm Beach Dramaworks that it’s worth the effort. The story of indomitable broadcast icon Gertrude Berg fighting the plague of the blacklist in the 1950s carries a clear warning to audiences today.
Awe is not a quality you usually hear in the voices of theater pros when they describe the central character in a work. But that is the sense listening to director William Hayes, playwright Joseph McDonough and actress Elizabeth Dimon talking about Gertrude Berg, the heroine of their world premiere this month, Ordinary Americans at Palm Beach Dramaworks.
Last July, Lester Purry had just finished playing the volcanic Troy Maxson in August Wilson’s most popular play Fences at Portland Playhouse in Oregon. “I told my wife, I’m never doing this play again,” he recalled last week. Then the phone rang.
When a theater produces Death of a Salesman , it’s not unknown territory. The director can adopt, adapt or depart from what has been done before. But when it’s a world premiere such as Palm Beach Dramaworks’ upcoming Lyle Kessler’s House on Fire, there are no roadmaps other than the still evolving script about which even the playwright is making discoveries during rehearsal.
Some South Florida theaters are scrapping some of what they plan to put on stage this season or next. Some are leaving support positions unfilled. Some plan smaller cast shows. Some have sidelined plans for growth. Theaters are scrambling to cope with an unexpected 90 percent slash in state funding. But theater champions vow to fight back by organizing patrons and leading citizens to influence lawmakers.
Palm Beach Dramaworks’ production of the world premiere of Billy and Me, a fictionalization of the real life relationship between playwrights Tennessee Williams and William Inge, is a triumph of the imagination, technique, skill and showmanship of playwright Terry Teachout, director William Hayes and actors Nicholas Richberg and Tom Wahl.
Some works of art are born in a long gestation period of mulling almost in the unconscious; others leap gloriously to life in an exultant flash that is one of joys of being a creative person. Billy and Me, Terry Teachout’s play about the relationship between playwrights William Inge and Tennessee Williams premiering this month at Palm Beach Dramaworks, is both.