Sunday, June 25, 2017

Building the Wall

Santa Fe is an arts town with a great Performing Arts Center, The Lensic, but we have sorely missed a black box theatre where small serious theatre productions could be done.  A bit over a year ago Maureen and Bruce McKenna opened the Adobe Rose Theatre to fill the need.  I hope to do a Missive in the near future on this dynamic duo but that is not my focus today.

The Adobe Rose recently held a gala where they presented a show called “Building the Wall” by Robert Schenkkan.  The unusual aspect of this play according to the author was that there were less than 6 months between conception and the first production.  Also, that the author wanted the play to roll out in multiple venues, each venue with their own interpretation.  The McKenna’s and their team felt the mood for the show would be properly set if we were given blue or red dots when we arrived, had to come through a small door and go through a security check with a simulated scanning device, standing on the foot prints and raising our arms. On the other side was another agent who sent sent those with blue dots through one aisle and the red through another.  We, of course, all arrived in the same seating area in the round.  The Adobe Rose has variable seating for different productions from 87 to 140 seats and for this production there were 116 seats.   According to Bruce McKenna, “Geoff Webb, the theatre designer, wanted for this production a "flies on the wall feel: the audience would be pressed not only close to the action, but to each other.”  During the founders’ intro they made a pitch for the theatre and said with particularly relevant insight, “Theatre can act as a mirror on ourselves”. 

The play takes place in 2019, and projects the harrowing consequences of the current administration’s policy towards law and order and illegal immigrants. It is a two character piece; a prisoner in an orange jump suit, played, in Santa Fe, by Todd Anderson and a black (though it could be any minority) history professor who studied psychology and sociology, played here by Danielle Louise Reddick. She is interested in getting a story for an article or a book on why the prisoner, a former security officer, did what landed him in prison. The latter makes an excellent case for his discontent with his country which he feels needs to be given back to white Christians, though he repeats over and over again that he is not racist and seems to believe it. Under continuous questioning he slowly reveals how things can go too far and seem out of our control, not wanting to reveal even to his wife what he has allowed to happen. - Just following orders, Sir.

Photo Courtesy of Adobe Rose Theatre

Directed by Kristin Goodman, this is a morality play which like the late medieval piece “Everyman” tells the story of a time when man had forgotten about God, gotten carried away but ultimately must pay. Here the director in rehearsal with her cast.

Photo Courtesy of Adobe Rose Theatre

Last November, after much thought, I wrote a blog stating my fears about the direction our country was going.  We have a number of friends who said it could not happen here because we were protected by our Constitution and our system of checks and balances.  I have now learned from a Pulitzer prize winning author that I was not alone.   In the play the professor is getting more and more upset by what she is hearing but drawn to learn more.

Photo Courtesy of Adobe Rose Theatre

In a Q& A after the show Robert Schennken told us that he started writing in October, 2016.  His first draft was written in a week, but he has been making changes ever since in response to current events. The version we saw was not quite the same as the one that opened in New York.  As Schenkann said his primary concern was not royalties or prizes, the show was not released slowly in the normal pattern, on its way to New York. He wants professional, semi-professional and amateur productions as well as readings so that his cautionary tale can reach as many as possible and get a dialog going about our country’s direction and future.

Bruce McKenna and Robert Schenkkan

Schenkann has published the script, so it is available on Amazon and has been translated into French.  To list just a few of its many venues: Los Angeles, Seattle, Tucson, Chicago, Denver and Austin.  It just closed in New York and is going to Vienna and Tehran. He is also negotiating with London and Costa Rica.  Catch it if you can!

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