Rock River Players & Hooker-Dunham Premiere SOLOS Episode 7 April 9

SOLOs Episode 7: Originals— a video montage of monologues and song by six area performers filmed by Brattleboro Community Television — premieres simultaneously on BCTV and on YouTube Friday, April 9 at 7:30 PM. The free opening is capped with an online session at 8:15 where audience members can chat with cast, directors, producers, and technical staff. Each episode of SOLOs is a co-production of the Rock River Players (RRP) and the Hooker-Dunham Theater (H-D), filmed on the H-D stage.

RRP’s Bahman Mahdavi produced Episode 7, the latest in a series conceived and launched by Mahdavi and H-D Director Jon Mack last fall as a way to keep the lively arts in the Valley alive in COVID times.

SOLOs Episode 7 features “Gertrude” written and performed by Annie Landenberger, directed by Bahman Mahdavi; “Moffit” written/directed by Michael Nethercott, performed by Joel Kaemmerlen; “Take Me” written and performed by Gary Keiser; “T”, an excerpt from “Exposed Skin” written by Matt Cogswell, performed by Charlene Kennedy, directed by Carrie Kidd; “The Daisy” written and performed by Johanna Gardner, directed by Mahdavi; “Open the package, Denise” written by Erica Walch, directed by Austin Rice.

About this episode, Mahdavi, who has trained and worked in film production as well as, more recently, in directing and acting notes: “Episode 7 is our most ambitious undertaking so far with enhanced production values and original work that’s never been performed in public before.” Notable it is that “Open the package, Denise” is actually a short movie featuring award-winning Newfane author Erica Walch’s dystopian story and narration. Filmed, directed, edited, and performed by Austin Rice, Angus Reid, and Anneli Curnock, the short features some of Brattleboro’s finest young talents. “Even during COVID-19,” Mahdavi observes, “art brings us closer together” and so it has been in Originals, which manifested several new collaborations.

Jon Mack narrates SOLOs 7. “I am delighted by the high quality of theatrical performance this series is creating. In this extended period of isolation, we have found a way to keep the artistic juices flowing for our community of artists and audiences.”

The free premiere is available at https://youtu.be/TY_VdB2XjjA and on BCTV. To request links to the free talk-back following write info@hookerdunham.com or info@rockriverplayers.org.

Next in the SOLOs lineup: Episode 8 premieres in May featuring Anneli Curnock, John Moran, Veronica Stevens, Marisa Imôn, Fred Lawrence, Joel Kaemmerlen, Tom Ely, and Bahman Mahdavi. Annie Landenberger produces and directs.

For more information, check the RRP and H-D websites or email Hooker Dunham or the Rock River Players at the emails above.

RRP and H-D Premiere SOLOS Episode 7 April 9
Top, l. to r.–Anneli Curnock, Annie Landenberger, Gary Keiser
Bottom, l to r: Joel Kaemmerlen, Johanna Gardner, Charlene Kennedy

 

SOLOs Episode 6, Sense and Nonsense premieres Friday, March 19 at 7:30

Sense and Nonsense, the sixth in the SOLOs series of performances filmed on the Hooker-Dunham stage, airs this Friday, March 19 at 7:30 simultaneously on YouTube and BCTV . The showing will be followed by an online public “After Party” with the cast. SOLOs is a co-production of the Hooker-Dunham Theater and the Rock River Players (RRP).

“Sense and Nonsense” consists of a series of monologues that take aim at the destructive nonsense of gender stereotypes.

Cyndi Cain Fitzgerald’s “Aphra Behn: A Woman of Ideas” celebrates Women’s History Month by introducing audiences to this powerful 17th century playwright, poet, and translator who was denied her rightful place in literary history because she was a woman. Jessica Gelter directs.

Anneli Curnock challenges gender roles in a different way. In “The Creature Speaks,” Anneli performs the scene in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein when the creature confronts Frankenstein demanding that he create another creature to end the torture of being totally shunned and alone.

In “Elinor,” written and directed by Michael Nethercott, Cassandra Holloway portrays a stoic wartime nurse who felt she had to hold in her feelings to be able to care for severely injured soldiers. Elinor finds herself, many years later, overwhelmed by emotion.

Ian Hefele looks at a different aspect of the damaging nature of sexual stereotypes. In a piece written by playwright Sadie Portman, Ian’s character struggles with trying to maintain his sanity living “24×7” with his husband and their children. He rails about those who treat him as their “token gay friend” and those who demand to know which of his children’s two fathers is their mother.

Jenny Holan provides lighter interludes with the whimsical nonsense of Lewis Carroll’s poetry.

Coming up next in SOLOs is “Episode 7 – Originals.” Bahman Mahdavi, producer, describes it as “our most ambitious undertaking yet with all original material and enhanced production values.” Episode 8, to be aired in May, will be produced by RRP’s artistic director, Annie Landenberger.

Friday 19 March, 2021 at 7:30pm at https://youtu.be/nAgNwQAaKdk

CONTACT: Jon Mack (jonmackvt@gmail.com; 802-348-7159)

Photos; All photos are stills courtesy of the production:

Rock River Players Merge Talents with Hooker-Dunham

Founded in 2015, the Rock River Players (RRP) launched with a mission to keep the lively arts alive in the West River Valley. Since the inaugural production of Our Town (August 2015) the ever-growing company has presented ten plays –including a musical; an evening of one-acts, another evening of suspense; several cabarets; training in lighting, producing/directing, and improvisation. It’s engaged in a storytelling project in assisted living homes; premiered several new works; entertained hundreds from our neck of the woods and well beyond; included actors ages 8 to 86; and attained non- profit status. And though it all, the RRP’s gratefully called the Williamsville Hall home.

At the time the pandemic hit last spring, RRP actor/director Bahman Mahdavi was in the midst of working with nearly two dozen performers to create a May (’20) production of Hecht and MacArthur’s The Front Page. Following would have been a summer production, a cabaret, and the next major production, Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. But all that stalled and, while I fretted and bemoaned what to do to keep RRP alive, Bahman stepped up. With in-person performance not a viable option, he—with a background in film production– became excited by the idea of developing solo shows that could be safely filmed and made widely available through BCTV and online.  Teaming up with Hooker-Dunham Theatre’s Artistic Director, Jon Mack—of So. Newfane—the two forces honed a lineup of various episodes, each curated and produced by either Jon or Bahman. Each episode of SOLOs is a co-production of RRP and the Hooker-Dunham Theater, given the pooling of resources and sharing of expenses and tasks. And each episode is filmed on the H-D stage; videographer for the series is BCTV’s Austin Rice who’s an essential player in the SOLOs project. Kudos to Bahman and Jon for facing that reality and keeping theater alive for us, albeit virtually. They have created a model that can endure as long as it needs to–until the dark cloud lifts, until we can applaud theater together again live, en masse.”

Looking at the work produced thus far, Bahman reflects: “Seeing what individual performers have chosen to present and working with them and with Austin and Jon to make it happen has been a life-giving force in a dark time. It’s really been an honor and a pleasure.” Jon adds, “Even though the performances are by single individuals, the aim of SOLOs is to bring actors, directors, and writers together with their audience. The performing arts are all about the connection between artist and audience. The Hooker-Dunham is delighted to be hosting and co-producing an event which makes that connection while keeping safe. By collaborating with the Rock River Players, we’ve been forging ahead to create exciting work.”

Up next in SOLOs premiering March 19 on YouTube and BCTV is Episode 6: “Sense and Nonsense.” This episode takes aim at the destructive nonsense of gender-role stereotyping mixed with the whimsical nonsense of Lewis Carroll’s poems. And on April 9, “Originals,” a diverse collection of unique work.

SOLOs will carry on for the foreseeable future and then, when the time is ripe, we’ll get back to the Hall and to the agenda thrown into a pandemic hiatus. To get involved with the RRP—either in the taped series or, eventually, live, visit the RRP website, rockriverplayers.org or write verbatimvt@gmail.com. And to support the joint work of the Hooker-Dunham and the Rock River Players, you can make a tax-free contribution at https://www.rockriverplayers.org/donate/. And thank you for that!

SOLOs 1 Actors

Links to all the Episodes in Solos

SOLOs Episode 1: Pilot
https://youtu.be/3PGhDYTp43o
 “Always Ridiculous” performed by Rose Watson
“Milo the Cat” performed Jonathan Kinnersley
“Annabelle Lee ” performed John Ogorzalek
 “The Cherry Orchard” performed by Annie Landenberger
“The Meaning of Life” performed by Tino Benson
 “Saint Joan” performed by Tom Ely
 “The Stranger’s Speech” performed by Dan Lloyd
 “Richard III” performed by Cameron Cobane

SOLOs Episode 2: Dreamscapes
https://youtu.be/pqlauO6IYrs
“Shakespeare on Sleep” performed by Michael Kennedy
“Charles Henry’s Last Curtain” performed by Ron Bos-Lun
T. S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of Alfred Prufrock” performed by Jon Mack
Prospero in Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” performed by Adrienne Major

SOLOs Episode 3: From Paradise to Hell on Earth

https://youtu.be/RR9g4JWo2ps
“Walter Simmons” (Spoon River) performed by Stewart McDermet
 “Diary of Adam” performed by Annie Landenberger
 “Diary of Eve” performed by Thomas Ely
 “Enoch Dunlap” (Spoon River) -Stewart McDermet
 “Legacy,” written and performed by T. Breeze Verdant
“Judge Somers” (Spoon River) – Stewart McDermet
 “Macbeth” performed by Dan Lloyd
 “Penniwit the Artist” (Spoon River) – Stewart McDermet
“The Gettysburg Address” performed by John Moran

SOLOs Episode 4: William Forchion
https://youtu.be/WNthyb7XEqY
Spirit Dance, A conversation with the ancestors

SOLOs Episode 5: Travis Laplante
https://youtu.be/GAHUqhZ8uRg
Dissolving Mirror

SOLOs Episode 6: Sense & Nonsense
To be released Friday, March 19.
With Jenny Holan, Cyndi Cain , Ian Hefele , Anneli Curnock, Cassandra Holloway 

SOLOs Episode 7: Originals
To be released Friday, April 9.
With Annie Landenberger, Joel Kaemmerlen, Gary Keiser, Charlene Kennedy, Johanna Gardner, Erica Walch