Emer­ald puts on short works from com­pe­ti­tion

The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - STAGE -

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

PHOTO BY SKIP HOOPER

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