Angels Theatre Company (ATC) will have the first performance in the 2019-20 season of its popular Salon Reading Series on Sunday, October 6.
The Salon Reading Series offers the public an opportunity to see local actors present a staged reading of a contemporary play. The readings are free, with a suggested free will donation of $5. Donations support Angels Theatre Company and all its programming. Readings are scheduled for 2 p.m. on the first Sundays of the month from October through May (no reading in January). All readings this season will be held at Turbine Flats, 2124 Y Street. Free refreshments, including wine and snacks, are served, and each reading features a talk-back session with the director and actors.
The Feast invites us to attend a dinner party in an environment where meat is not longer available. As the interconnected dinner guests wait for the final person to arrive, their hunger and their civilization break down to reveal base desires and human needs. The Feast breaks the boundaries of what we recognize as civilized behavior and explores the violent urges beneath the veneer of our cultivated human nature.
As they prepare to kick off the season with a reading of The Feast by Celine Song, Appearing Locally interviewed the selection’s director, Timothy Scholl, who is also the overseeing director the Series and the ATC Board President.
According to Mr. Scholl, The Feast invites us to attend a dinner party in an environment where meat is not longer available. As the interconnected dinner guests wait for the final person to arrive, their hunger and their civilization break down to reveal base desires and human needs.
The cast includes Kristine Kapustka, Lillian Bornstein, Tim Mittan, Mason Gustafson, Bret Olsen, and Lindsay Masin.
Can you tell us a little bit about this play and why you were drawn to it?
The Feast is a newer script by Celine Song. I read it after it was recommended by a colleague and found it to be a fascinating play for several reasons. I am attracted to the darkly comic premise and the originality of the style. It is unlike many plays I read in that it invites the audience into the action of the story. It is not just breaking the fourth wall, but blurring it completely and putting the audience in the position of being present and acknowledged as a part of this dinner party. And, of course, it has a very serious message about our humanity and the lengths we are willing to go to satisfy our desires–or maybe our needs. It’s a play that has excellent moments of humor and an underlying serious theme that makes you think.
How does The Feast fit into this season’s theme of “breaking boundaries”?
The Salon Reading Series this year is focused on breaking boundaries. And, for me, theatre by its very nature is about breaking boundaries. So in selecting the season, I had to limit the scope to make it manageable. I ended up selecting plays that either thematically or structurally stretched the traditional boundaries of what we typically see in a theatre season. I think The Feast is a stretch in both of these areas. Thematically, it asks its audience to confront their own humanity in a very direct and personal way. It’s about the boundaries we have as human beings and what we are capable of doing under stress or the right circumstances. But, it does this in the form of a dark comedy– a farce that allows us to laugh while we contemplate what we are capable of doing. And, as I already mentioned, structurally, this is an interesting play. In a manner of speaking, Song creates soliloquies for her characters that are not only heard by other characters, but stated frankly to the audience. It is a fascinating way to engage and involve an audience directly in this macabre dinner party.
Did you face any unique challenges when directing this play as a reading instead of a full production?
Great question. In many ways, a reading of The Feast is easier than a full staging. There are several elements that we don’t have to address in the reading. I won’t spoil it, but you will be able to tell at the reading itself. However, I like this question because I always direct readings with an eye towards how I would stage it. I believe that it helps the actors to visualize how the performance would look while engaging an audience in the reading. We have the benefit of hearing many of the stage directions, so it also allows the audience at the reading to contemplate how this could be done.
What should audience members expect when they come to this first reading of the season?
I really hope that our Salon Reading Series audience comes to this reading with an open mind and a willingness to see something different. I love these readings because they engage the raw power of the theatre. This is the playwright speaking through actor to the audience. It’s in many ways more direct and urgent. Aristotle’s elements of theatre included music and spectacle as the final two, and least important of the six (plot, character, idea, language, music, and spectacle). This is the essence of theatre and its intents. I also hope that this reading whets their appetite for other readings this season that will definitely break boundaries in surprising ways.
What is something you hope the audience will take away from this performance?
Questions. One thing I love about great theatre is that I always walk away with more questions than answers. Plots can be concluded, characters can fulfill their arcs and plays can (and should) have an end. But the themes and the reason for going to the theatre are the big ideas–the wrestling with meaning and the discovery of who we are as human beings. Otherwise, it is far easier to sit at home and watch television. That can be enjoyable too, but it doesn’t have the lasting impact that a great night at the theatre can have.
The theme for the 2019-2020 Salon Reading Series is “Breaking Boundaries,” and the selected plays are:
- October 6 – The Feast by Celine Song, directed by Timothy W. Scholl
- November 3 – Blacktop Sky by Christina Anderson, directed by Jillian Carter
- December 1 – PigCat by Steven Bogard, directed by Judy Hart
- February 2 – Looking for Normal by Jane Anderson, directed by Deb Miller
- March 1 – Grounded by George Brandt, directed by Deanna Walz
- April 5 – Delicate Particle Logic by Jennifer Blackmer, directed by Sarah Halsted
- May 3 – Coyote on a Fence by Bruce Graham, directed by Tony Heffner