To our APF friends, family and familiars:
Let’s talk about the pandemic.
Along with the rest of the world, we watched as global events encroached and slowly engulfed our everyday lives. We struggled to accept the new vocabulary: “social distancing,” “self-isolation,” “community spread.” As none of these phrases are conducive to APF’s main mission in life – to unite the community with the shared experience of compelling stories and continuing conversation – it became very clear to us that business as usual at A Public Fit would necessarily be significantly altered.
So what’s happening?
In the interests of being responsible community partners and ensuring the continuing good health of our artists, staff and audiences, APF has canceled the remainder of our 2019/2020 season in its entirety. Our final mainstage production, Sense and Sensibility, scheduled to open May 1, will instead serve as the opening production of our 2020/2021 season. Performance dates will follow, as nothing in the current environment lends itself to making long-term plans with any degree of confidence. The readings will be rescheduled, the Outburst will rise again, the Slapdashery will make it all up and playwrights will come together for the Tirade once a City-wide “all-clear” has been announced and we as a community can re-engage each other with our accustomed fearlessness. By then, we’re sure we’ll all have a lot to talk about!
At A Public Fit, our aim has always been to encourage the conversation – about art, about drama, about life – sharing the stories that define ourselves and our community. Towards that end, please feel free to reach out to any of us with any questions, concerns or comments as we all continue to navigate this new, if temporary, normal. Joe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; Ann-Marie is email@example.com; Lisa Lynn is firstname.lastname@example.org and Gaby is email@example.com. Please don’t hesitate to contact any or all of us.
Most importantly, please take the warnings accompanying this pandemic seriously. It turns out that “social distancing,” “self-isolation,” “community spread” are more than just trendy catch-phrases; they are behaviors vital to combating the spread of this very real, very dangerous viral threat. Stay safe, stay healthy and join us to tell the tale when we all emerge on the other side together.
Joe, Ann-Marie and the staff of A Public Fit
Ann-Marie Pereth received her MFA in directing from UNLV and is a theatre professor for both University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Directing credits include The Elephant Man, Small Mouth Sounds, Incognito, Wit, The Glass Menagerie, The Flick, Foxfinder, When the Rain Stops Falling, A Summons from the Tinker…, Becky Shaw, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, A Steady Rain, Red Light Winter, August: Osage County, Belleville, The Trip to Bountiful, Compleat Female Stage Beauty and The Diary of Anne Frank at The Smith Center. Ann-Marie also worked with Nevada Conservatory Theatre, directing The Learned Ladies, Rabbit Hole, Miss Julie, 27 Wagons Full of Cotton and Glory in the Flower. She has acted, danced, directed and choreographed with a number of renowned theatre training programs and community organizations throughout the country including the Utah Shakespeare Festival, Disney Musicals in the Schools, Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts and American Girl in New York City. Ann-Marie is a co-founder and the Artistic Director of A Public Fit Theatre Company.
February 7-23, 2020
Shows: 7:30 pm & 2 pm
The Usual Place
100 So. Maryland Pkwy., Las Vegas, NV 89101
Friends since childhood, Joey and Denny have grown to become policemen in Chicago. Together they face domestic affairs, violence, and the mean streets. Their loyalty, friendship, and trust are tested when a domestic disturbance call takes a turn for the worse.
Click here to see behind-the-scene content of A Steady Rain.
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Coco Lane Rigbye is an Aussie studying theater at UNLV. She has a couple degrees already from CSN and is a staple in the local music and theater scene around town. I spoke with her about joining us for The Elephant Man. Here is what she had to say.
A few weeks into The Elephant Man’s rehearsal process, Ann-Marie called me saying she needed an actor. As a new actor, to have the opportunity to work with the company of such caliber as APF is exciting and I happily accepted.
Working on the show has been an extraordinary process of discovery, exploration, and self-actualization. We each took weeks to explore who each character is, though we constantly discovered new ideas about each one even still. We explore their class and location, how they speak, stand, and move. But also: who are they?
I play four roles that interact with Joseph “John” Merrick and/or Dr. Frederick Treves. What is important in playing multiple roles like this is to remember their job in terms of the play, but also the idiosyncrasies that make them wholly who they are. Are they air-headed, bird-like, weighted, strong, scared, childlike… Then, many would say one person can be all of these attributes at once sometimes. Just as Joseph Merrick can be hideous and beautiful, wise and naïve. We find ourselves by what’s around us.
My characters see part of themselves in John, and he is looking for himself in all of us.
I thank Ann-Marie and Joe for trusting me, and I thank the entire cast for welcoming me with open arms. I am very proud of this production and to be part of this company.
We go to school together; he’s a 21 year old engineering major and I’m an old guy who needs help with his calculus homework. It’s an 80’s buddy-pic in the making.
(“Why are you in this class?” he asks me all the time. “You went to school already. What’s the point?”
“It’s part of my artistic process,” I tell him. “Some artists abuse themselves with violence or alcohol or tumultuous relationships, I do it with Craig’s Interpolation Theorem.”
“Yeah, but don’t you also abuse yourself with violence and alcohol and tumultuous relationships?” he says.
“Shut up,” I explain.)
The theater department of our tiny community college had posters up everywhere advertising their spring production and I’m a Support-Your-School kinda guy, plus I thought it would be fun to bring my buddy to his first ever play. And to make things even sweeter, it was Twelfth Night.
Perfect, I thought, little Shakespearean gravitas, but a raucous comedy… good first play.
He got all dressed up. “If I’m the only brown dude there, I gotta represent.” That’s a young person expression. I’m pretty sure it means, “I’m hoping to score some artsy chicks.”
“Why do you think you’ll be the only one?” I asked him.
“Theater is a white people thing,” he said completely without irony, something that still rattles the soft bits of my skeleton. I opened my mouth to argue with him because I’m also an Argue-With-Anyone-About-Anything kinda guy. Still, I knew right away that I’d lose this one, but that’s a different blog altogether. (I know, I know, I’ll get to it one of these days. Calculus, man. Cut me some slack.)
So we cruised into the campus theater on a sultry night. It was one of those ginormous theaters that exist only either in the high falutin world of fancy-pants subscribers and Broadway ticket prices like the Taper, or on a campus. 90 percent of the theaters I’ve worked in are two rats away from being bulldozed to the ground, but you walk into a university theater and it’s like you just got a job at the Palladium. Big, well-equipped, comfortable, like a gazillon seats, the whole bit. Even at about half full, there were more audience members that one night than saw my entire run of Coriolanus at Shakespeare Santa Monica and that’s a shame because I was the balls in that show. Just sayin. THE BALLS.
Lights out, hush falls, off we go.
And it was awful.
I mean staggeringly, mind-numbingly bad. This show was so god damn fetid that at one point I wanted to lean over and ask my buddy to punch my eyeballs squarely in the dick, because I deserved that for bringing him there. Not just Undergraduate Theatre Bad (which I generally appreciate) this was “The Last Airbender” bad. It was Trump at Langley bad.
It’s not just that it wasn’t funny; it’s that it was the opposite of funny. Not dramatic, because it was the opposite of that, too. It was the opposite of theater, the opposite of storytelling. It was a non-thing. The actors were like fat southerners at a Vegas buffet, hungrily eyeballing the text that they were gonna gorge upon so they could vomit it back at us later. It was a fiasco of bad pacing, misunderstood text, mindless zombie direction and totally unrealized potential.
***WARNING: MASSIVE DIGRESSION AHEAD, BUCKLE UP, BEEYATCH***
Here’s the thing: I like bad theater, not gonna lie.
I like a little off-key singin, unglued mustache, too old ingénue and too young dad, inappropriate costuming and poorly constructed foam brick walls in the service of storytelling; the ambitious overreach of sophomoric don’t-tell-ME-how-to-play-Chekhov histrionics that serves for technique in this age of over-trained and under-experienced actors.
I love that stuff.
And honesty? Honesty is over-rated and trust me on this: that thoroughly modern notion that it all has to boil out from some cauldron of Stanislavskian veracity, as if earnestness is a sacrosanct virtue. What a bunch of hooey. I’ve never bought the long con of 60’s method-hounds that their real tears were any more effective than the ones Barrymore sprayed on before his entrance. (Twice as much for Hamlet, kid, let’s not be stingy with the glycerin; there’s paying customers out there!) Not for a second.
But there has to be a commitment to the storytelling, the deeply human shared joy that comes from traveling with an audience through a series of verbs that culminates in a couple of adjectives. If there isn’t at least some attachment to the clan-around-the-fire ecstasy of shared experience then I check out; when the actors are too involved in themselves and not enough in US. You know that guy at work who is so good at telling stories? What is it about that guy? He’s not wearing fancy costumes or using expensive magic tricks, but man alive does he spin a good yarn. That guy tells great stories, kid; not because the moment capstones in his own exultation, but because the story itself becomes elevated beyond the vocal gimmicks and wacky faces he makes. Maybe that’s it. I aint going to pretend that I know for sure.
We’re all in service. That’s what I’m saying. We’re all in service to the story, the image, whatever. We’re all scholars in the translation process that cyphers that cacophony through the brainpan of our writers or directors and rebuilds it into something discernible, something receivable and observable and watchable and ultimately, something fucking feel-able. (That should be a word: fucking feel-able. Fulable? Feeckable? Whatever.)
Simple really, take what’s in one person’s head, and put it in someone else’s. I’m pretty sure that at some point we’ll be able to do it with an HDMI cable, but for now we need artists.
More’s the pity.
But that’s what we are, we are scholars in service. In service to the story.
***WE NOW RETURN YOU TO THE RANT YOU ORIGINALLY SIGNED UP FOR***
After the play, without offering my opinion, I asked my friend what he thought.
“I liked it,” he lied. “It was cool.”
“No you didn’t!” I said. “You hated it! Know how I know? Because it was terrible. No one would like that show. The lead actor’s mom wouldn’t like that show. The guy who directed that show should be forced to watch “The Big Bang Theory” for ten hours a day until he beats himself to death with a copy of Aristotle’s Poetics. Don’t lie to me, ya ponce.” (I actually used “ponce.” I was feeling all Shakespeary.)
“Well, I don’t know… What was it supposed to be like? What does a good play look like?” It’s a good question, actually. Mary Overlie could make an entire dance piece about that question. It would be boring.
“It doesn’t look like that,” I assured him.
He went on, “I don’t have anything to compare it to, I guess.”
Later, in the elevator, there were two freshmen girls who had sat near us during the show. I noticed them because they were conspicuously NOT on their phones and that gave me a spark of hope for humanity in the midst of that Shake-smear.
“What’d ya think?” I asked them.
“It was great!” one of them gushed. “Sooooo good.”
“Uh huh,” I said. “Who’s girlfriend are you?”
“Um, Manny. The guy who played Orsino. Why?
“Nothing,” I said. “Glad you liked it.”
Our director, Anne-Marie, proposed a full-day optional experience of silence that she would program for us, to help with “cast bonding” (as it was right at the start of the rehearsal process) and to give us a taste of what keeping silent for a somewhat extended time period would feel like in today’s Las Vegas. We arrived and began with a yoga class, followed by a guided mindfulness meditation session.
After that, a very experienced hiker (and appropriately, also a doctor in theater) Dr. Ian Pugh arrived to be our guide on an outdoor hike that would take up the rest of the cold, beautiful winter afternoon. Ian made the inspired decision to keep silence along with us, but he had prepared some informational signs that he showed us to give us important background information about the hike, and along the way we learned some geological tidbits and were shown stunning and delicate fossils that I have no doubt we all would have missed had we been chatting in the usual manner of friends hiking together.
After the hike we returned back to the warmth of Anne-Marie & Joe’s house and had dinner all together as a group, still keeping silence, and then cleaned up according to our assignments that we had been given earlier.
Only after the dishes were done, the food put away and the table wiped clean did we begin speaking again. At that point it had been somewhere around 7 hours of silence – not comparable to 5 days, but still a very unusual way to spend a day in 2019 with a group of 8 or 9 people!