BRATTLEBORO SOLOs Episode 3: from Paradise to Hell on Earth— a video montage of monologue and song by six area performers filmed by Brattleboro Community Television — premiers simultaneously on BCTV and on YouTube Friday, January 15 at 7:30 PM. The free opening showing is capped with an online talk-back session at 8:15 where audience members will have a chance to 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 3, the third in a series of programs of exclusively public domain and original works. Conceived and launched by Mahdavi and H-D Director Jon Mack, SOLOs is proving to be a welcome COVID-time alternative to live performance. (Mahdavi and nearly two dozen Rock River players were in the midst of rehearsing a classic comedic chestnut, The Front Page, when the pandemic hit.)
SOLOs Episode 3 features Stewart McDermet in four excerpts from Edgar Lee Masters’ 1915 Spoon River Anthology. A collection of reflections and reminiscences from Spoon River’s deceased, it offers a slice of small-town life that’s poignant, witty, innocent, and wise. Annie Landenberger and Thomas Ely have excepted from Mark Twain’s diaries of Adam and Eve to showcase Twain’s wit, wisdom, and tenderness. Each discovers and surreptitiously digests the other’s entries which, to quote Twain, “were translated from the original hieroglyphics by [himself]. T Breeze VerDant performs Legacy (Grandfather, Father, Son). His lyrics offer testimony to the lasting effects of alcohol and war on men with their manifest demons of isolation, dark thoughts, and shame. The song also witnesses the healing power of opening up and letting others bear the burden alongside oneself. Shakespeare buff and academic, Dan Lloyd, performs the riveting “Is this a dagger I see before me…” soliloquy from Macbeth, II, 1. Lloyd brings us inside Macbeth’s fevered mind as he creeps toward regicide. Finally, John Moran performs Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. In the present, Lincoln looks to the past, to his presidency, and to the war he prosecuted, despite the cost, to preserve the Union—and to Gettysburg, at time of mourning and hope for the future of a reborn America.
About this episode, Mahdavi, who has trained and worked in directing and acting notes: “Watching and working with talented performers is what always brings me the greatest joy. Here I had the chance to reunite with some actors from SOLOs Episode 1 –Tom and Dan—and to work with some well-known Rock River Players—Stewart, John, Breeze, and founder, Annie Landenberger. Ten months into the COVID era, I’m grateful to be part of this collaborative effort that brings us all a much-needed creative outlet.” Co-producer Jon Mack says, “I am delighted by the high quality of theatrical performance this collaboration is creating. In this period of stressful isolation, we are finding ways to keep the artistic juices flowing for our community of artists and audience.”
To request links to the talk-back following write firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Both the January 15 premiere and the talk-back following are free of charge and the sharing of links is encouraged.
Next in the SOLOs lineup: Episode 4, premiering the first week in February, features local filmmaker, philosopher, and circus performer Bill Forchion in his original piece, “Spirit Dance, a Conversation with the Ancestors.” Later in February, SOLOs will present an original tenor saxophone performance by recording artist and frequent Yellow Barn contributor, Travis Laplante. Two more episodes of sets of monologues will air in March. One consists entirely of original works, while the other features performers stretching the artificial boundaries of gender roles.” For more information email Hooker Dunham or the Rock River Players at the emails above.