Emerald puts on short works from competition
Back in March, the Emerald Theatre Company tried something a bit different — a collection of short monologs from the viewpoint of the LGBT community. This weekend, Emerald again presents something different: winning short works from the company’s playwriting competition.
The company’s cofounders, Den-nickolas Smith and Hal Harmon, asked Caroline Sposto to direct a play. Rather than do such a conventional thing, she sent out invitations to playwrights to submit short plays with this instruction: “Closets are good for storage ... They also make great hiding places. Sock it to us in 10-minutes or less!”
Forty-two playwrights responded from all over the country, plus the United Kingdom and New Zealand, submitting works about LGBT issues. Sposto, who coordinated the festival, says judges chose eight of those plays to produce and they’ll be presented three times this weekend at Theatreworks.
Six local directors are helming the works, including Smith and Harmon, Ballet Memphis: “Carnival of the Animals”: 8 p.m. Saturday at Memphis Botanic Garden. Gates open 6:30 p.m. $10 lawn seats; $25 stageside. Rain date Sunday. Ballet Memphis brings to life colorful creatures from Camille SaintSaens’ famous score. Plus, a festival of arts, crafts, food trucks and two special short plus Ron Gephart, Tekay, Don Lee and Daniel Martine. Twenty actors from the community are participating in the works.
Calley Anderson, whose work in the festival is “Carousel,” is the only local playwright among the eight being produced. Her other plays include the award-winning “Davis Miller” and “Lie in Wait.” She is diversity and inclusion manager for the Memphis Symphony Orchestra.
“‘Carousel’ is in reference to a baggage claim carousel where two young men meet and talk of the nature of love,” Anderson says. She had once done a philosophy paper about Plato’s “Symposium,” in which Plato takes the persona of Aristophanes and discusses what love is.
Plato wrote that long ago humans were two persons in one body, but they had angered the gods, who split them apart. “They were meant to search for the other half, our other self,” Anderson says. “So I looked for inspiration for the play and found the notes for that essay I wrote. It seemed like a conversation for two people to have about love: Does it exist, and what does it mean to search for that other person?”
performances — “In Dreams” and “Pushin’ the Stone.” Picnics welcome. Bartlett Repertory Company in “Stones in His Pockets”: A major Hollywood film studio descends upon a sleepy village in Ireland. 7 p.m. Friday-saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday at Bartlett Performing Arts & Conference Center, 3663 Appling Road, Bartlett. Enchanted objects from the Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” at Theatre Memphis discuss the possibilities of breaking a spell that’s keeping them from changing back to humans. Pictured are (from left) Cogsworth (Kevar Lane Maffitt), Lumiere (Caiden Britt), Mrs. Potts (Jude Knight) and Chip (Josie Todd).
Anderson originally wrote the play for a man and a woman. “But I read up on Emerald Theatre Company and the festival and what it was trying to do for LGBTQ theater,” she says. “In ‘Symposium,’ Plato’s Aristophanes said the split could be man for man, woman for woman or man for woman, but it didn’t matter as they were always searching for their other half.”
She then realized that it wasn’t a story for the man/woman convention. “It was a lesson for me as a writer: Sometimes you have to let your characters talk for you. When I opened up the possibilities, it made much more
$10. 901-385-6440. “Beauty and the Beast”: Disney musical. 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. FridaysSaturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays, through Sept. 25 at Theatre Memphis (Lohrey Stage), 630 Perkins Ext. $30 ($15 students), $25 senior citizens age 62 and above and military personnel. 901-6828323. theatrememphis.org
sense that you’re searching for whoever you decide is your other half.”
Emerald Theatre Company’s “Out of the Closet” Playwriting Contest: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday at Theatreworks, 2086 Monroe. Tickets: $10 at the door or at etcmemphistheater.com.
BEASTS MEET BALLET
Ballet Memphis opens its season with a familyfriendly outdoor performance at the Memphis Botanic Garden.
“Carnival of the Animals” was acclaimed upon its debut here in 2008. It’s a work by Steven Mcmahon, who is now associate artistic director of the
“Beauty & The Beast Jr.”: Presented by Desoto Family Theatre Kids. 7 p.m. Friday, 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at The Theatre at Landers Center, 4560 Venture Drive, Southaven. $12. 662470-2131. dftonline.org New Ballet Ensemble and the Den of Strings: Creative Aging artists Den of Strings and members organization. The celebration of wildlife is set to a score by Camille SaintSaëns (1835-1921).
Also on the program is “In Dreams” by Trey McIntyre, the company’s signature touring work (but infrequently seen locally) set to music by Roy Orbison, and featuring dancers Crystal Brothers, Julie Niekrasz, Virginia Pilgrim Ramey, Brandon Ramey and Jared Brunson.
The third offering is “Pushin’ the Stone” by the company’s ballet master, Brian Mcsween. It’s an inventive, exhilarating work set to the music of Valerie June and Dead Soldiers, among others. It was first seen this spring during a special event at the site of Ballet Memphis’ future home in Overton Square.
“Carnival of the Animals”: Sept. 10 (Sept. 11 rain date) with gates opening at 6:30 p.m. and performance at sundown, around 8 p.m. at Memphis Botanic Garden’s, Live Stage, 750 Cherry. Lawn tickets are $10; chair seats are $25. Info: balletmemphis.org and 901-737-7322.
BEAST MEETS BELLE
At long last, Theatre Memphis finally got to produce Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” and it’s gone all out to make its season-opener an extravaganza.
Director Amy Hanford rustled up a top-notch
of New Ballet Ensemble perform. Part of Senior Arts Series. 1-3 p.m. Wednesday at Theatre Memphis, 630 N. Perkins Ext. $5. 901-272-3434. creativeagingmidsouth.org/ new-senior-arts-series “The Odd Couple”: Neil Simon’s play about two mismatched roommates. 8 p.m. Fridays-saturdays and 2:30 p.m. Sundays, through cast and crew to deliver a show that pushes all the right buttons for agreeable Disney fare.
There are some remarkable singing chops on stage, beginning with Ashley Mccormack, whose bold Belle can belt ’em with the best of the Disney princesses. Her beastly counterpart is Charles K. Hodges, long admired for his booming and expressive voice, with which he nails his tunes.
With his superb musical background, Philip Andrew Himebook zones in on the pluperfect jerk Gaston, elevating lyrics like “We shall be a perfect pair, Rather like my thighs” to operatic levels. And the beloved Mrs. Potts should be grateful to be played and sung by Jude Knight.
The creative scenic designer Jack Yates has gone wonderfully medieval, switching between an imposing castle and a village of mostly unpleasant peasants. Leading the band is music director Jeff Brewer.
“Beauty and the Beast”: Through Sept. 25 at Theatre Memphis on the Lohrey Stage, 630 Perkins Ext. 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays. There will also be 2 p.m. matinees on Sept. 10, 17 and 24. Tickets: $30; $15 students, $25 seniors 62 and above and military personnel. Info: theatrememphis.org and 901-682-8323.
Sept. 25 at Germantown Community Theatre, 3037 Forest Hill-irene Road, Germantown. $12-$24. 901453-7447. gctcomeplay.org “Out of the Closet”: Vignettes presented by Emerald Theatre Company. 8 p.m. Friday-saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at Theatreworks, 2085 Monroe Ave. $10. etcmemphistheater.com