General Question

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

What plays would you include in a theater organization's season in a small town?

Asked by Hawaii_Jake (25804 points ) November 30th, 2011

I am intimately involved in the community theater organization in my town, and in 2013, we will celebrate our 75th anniversary. We are already beginning plans for the season that year.

We have limited budgets, but we have dedicated volunteers. We also have some good talent on stage and behind the scenes.

What do you imagine seeing as a series of plays for that year?

(One note: we do Shakespeare in the Park every summer, so The Bard will get his due, but feel free to nominate what play you would imagine us doing.)

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17 Answers

JilltheTooth's avatar

Can you include at least one by a local playwright? I love it when a local group honors one of their own.

SuperMouse's avatar

Kiss Me Kate
The Odd Couple
Doubt
Long Day’s Journey Into Night
Love Letters
Bye Bye Birdie

Plus I lurve @JilltheTooth‘s idea of one by a local playwright!

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Deathtrap (and another vote for @JilltheTooth‘s suggestion.)

Earthgirl's avatar

One of my all time favorite plays is The Importance of Being Ernest by Oscar Wilde

The Skin of Our Teeth by Thornton Wilder has interesting possibilities. I had to design costumes for this while in my college costume design class. When my teacher asked how I would construct the Wooly Mammoth costume, I was like, ummm, welllll!!, I don’t know! I really have no idea! That’s when I decided to stick with Fashion Design.

6rant6's avatar

“Wit” needs great actors and practically no set. It’s a Pulitzer winner. It would be your one drama for the season.

linguaphile's avatar

I love “Brilliant Traces.” Two actors, minimal set (country cabin), no costume changes. I also like “Death and the Maiden.”

JLeslie's avatar

Can it be a musical? I love Mama Mia

Nixon/Frost is fantastic when done well, and the set for the stage is fairly simple.

vine's avatar

I like the idea of featuring local playwrights, too.

In the event one’s work isn’t available, I’d suggest Sam Shepard’s Buried Child, which won a Pulitzer in 1979 and is one of the most memorable plays I’ve read. Haven’t seen it performed yet, but I’m sure it would do well. Features alcoholism, incest, an amputee, the eponymous buried child, all that great dramatic stuff.

If you want to be adventurous and if your audience has a taste for unconventional drama, you might try Cormac McCarthy’s The Sunset Limited. The set is a simple apartment and the play is all dialogue. Not quite a play proper though. It’s subtitled ‘A Novel in Dramatic Form’.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream seems appropriate for your Shakespeare summer production. Maybe that’s too obvious? At any rate, I’ve read that MND performances almost guarantee ticket sales and can single-handedly balance theater company checkbooks.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Thank you, all, for the great suggestions.

I like the idea of a local playwright very much, and there are a couple of very good ones here in Hawaii.

I am taking all the suggestions to heart and will write them down for our board of directors to consider.

Please, don’t stop, jellies. More suggestions. Keep them coming.

harple's avatar

I just watched a local group here do Eric Idle’s “Pass the Butler” last week – it was one of the funniest plays I’ve seen in a while, and they just had a cast of 9 I think… (Although in a conventional theatre space, they ignored the stage and set the room up so they could do it as theatre in the round – worked very well. The set was a living room scene, with an iron-lung type machine at one end.)

Oscar Wilde’s “An Ideal Husband” is fun too…

And another vote for @JilltheTooth‘s idea of a local playwright, particularly as you have time to commission a play especially for the occasion, which can be written with the cast in mind :-)

linguaphile's avatar

For another Drama Pulitzer, look at “Doubt.” (3F 1M) I also like “Proof.” (2F 2M)

Found this

“The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds” is one of my favorites. (3F)
It’s not on the list, but I also love “night, Mother.” (2F)

6rant6's avatar

Hawaii? I used to have a book of Hawaiian plays, some dating to WWII.

The thing with local playwrights is that the selection process needs time. And you may have no one locally writing works suitable for your theater. You can’t really hold a slot in the calendar open while you seek submissions.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for getting the local playwrights in. But if you don’t have someone presenting you with material that’s at least close, you may come down to smoke and ash.

I’ve been encouraging the local theater here to do an amateur (not nexessarily local) playwright’s work with a contract that says they will get a share of future royalties and that they get to perform it royalty-free in perpetuity. This does not discourage playwrights. Some of them will pay to see their work on stage. But if you find a winner, the theater could be set for life.

This model is used with adjustments by strong regional companies. They help the playwright finish a play and then they take it to Broadway where everyone who doesn’t fall from a rigging gets rich. __I think that’s how it works.__

comity's avatar

Where I live they had a contest for local playwrights, even amateurs who were interested in submitting one act plays were welcomed. They then picked out 10 that were acted out by a local theater company. Me being one of the playwrights picked. It was fun for all who submitted and the local people were very interested in attending the performance. As far as plays are concerned, these are some of the plays a couple of our local theater companies are doing: http://www.stateofithaca.com/eventcalendar.html and
http://www.merry-go-round.com/

gorillapaws's avatar

We did The Complete Works of William Shakespeare on a shoestring budget in a small firehouse theatre back in high school. It’s pee-in-you-pants funny, has improv elements and has wide appeal. The basic premise is that they’re going to perform every Shakespearian play in a medley, and the results are a bit Monty-Pythonesque.

Yetanotheruser's avatar

“Our Town”, “The Fantasticks”, “Death of a Salesman”, “Arsenic And Old Lace”.

SuperMouse's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake what ended up on the bill?

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@SuperMouse : As we’re very short of funds, we’re paying as we go along. We’re starting with something called Hawai`ian Stories Nights where there will be stories of ancient Hawai`i, the kingdom and overthrow, the territorial days along with plantation times, and modern Hawai`i.

What will come after that is totally dependent on the funds generated from the first show.

We know we’ll have Shakespeare in the Park in the summer, and we’re currently in the middle of a fundraiser for that. We’re actually auctioning off the play to be presented next summer. Not all of Shakespeare’s works are on the ballot for people to contribute to. We’ve taken off everything we’ve done in the last 16 years so as not to repeat anything too soon.

Finally, our local university’s drama department has very graciously decided to have a co-production with our group in the fall. I will be co-directing a play with the drama professor there, and I’m more than thrilled at the opportunity.

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