Monday, June 8, 2015

'Our Town' Commedia Style Resonates With Audiences

Love, life and death in its rawest form embrace audiences with welcomed comedic relief during Faction of Fools Theatre Company's delicate portrayal of Thornton Wilder's OUR TOWN.   Performances run May 28th – June 21st, 2015 at the Elstad Auditorium at Gallaudet University.

Organic, energetic, hilarious and heartfelt are rolled into one acrobatic delivery of this timeless classic.  Matthew Pauli (Faction's The Lady Becomes Him, STC's The Tempest, Big Apple Circus) who plays the Stage Manager, is flawless at centering the audience while narrating the varied emotions of Wilder's intense themes. 

Young lovers George Gibbs and Emily Webb are played by Drew Kopas (Faction's Romeo & Juliet, Rep Stage, STC, Olney) and Teresa Spencer (Constellation's Absolutely! {perhaps}, Taffety Punk, Maryland Shakespeare Festival) exude teenage love with such poignant body language it sends chills up your spine. 

With sensitivity to Wilder's use of pantomime, direct address, and metatheatrical commentary, director Matthew R. Wilson applies a Commedia dell'Arte lens to re-discover the classical archetypes still familiar in Our Town today.  Audiences will recognize Faction of Fools' acrobatics and full-company physical comedy on an open stage without scenery, other than a few chairs and ladders, as prompted by Wilder in his stage directions, and animated by live Foley sound design performed by the actors. Commedia dell'Arte masks heighten the reality and separate the “characters” of Grover's Corners from Wilder's “actors” playing them. 

Faction of Fools' Artistic Director Matthew R. Wilson, one of America’s leading experts in Commedia dell’Arte (Constellation's Lieutenant of Inishmore, 1st Stage's One Man Two Guvnors, Faction's Titus Andronicus, A Commedia Christmas Carol, Don Juan, Hamlecchino, Romeo & Juliet), directs and choreographs the production. An ensemble replete with classical acting training and physical comedy clout constructs the townspeople, soundscape, gardens, cows and furniture of Grover's Corners, featuring Julie Garner (Faction's A Commedia Christmas Carol, Constellation, Forum), Toby Mulford (Faction's Titus Andronicus, Pinocchio!, A Commedia Christmas Carol, Hamlecchino, Romeo & Juliet, 1st Stage, Constellation, Roundhouse), Paul Reisman (Faction's A Commedia Christmas Carol, Romeo & Juliet, STC's Servant of Two Masters), Rachel Spicknall Mulford (Faction's The Lady Becomes Him, Hamlecchino, NextStop's Richard III), John Cartwright II (WSC's Visible Language), Natalie Cutcher, Joe Grasso, Darren Marquardt, and Kathryn Zoerb (Rep Stage, Imagination Stage).

An inspired design team defines the sounds, sights and seasons around the actors, with Costumes by Denise Umland (Faction's Titus Andronicus, A Commedia Christmas Carol, Don Juan, Hamlecchino, Rep Stage, Wolf Trap, WSC), Lighting by Michael Barnett (Faction's Titus Andronicus, North Shore Music Theatre, Barter Theatre, Tennessee Rep, Ole Miss), Sound and Music Composition by Roc Lee (Arena's Mother Courage and Her Children, WSC, Lean and Hungry), and Masks by Sarah Conte (Faction of Fools, Constellation, Imagination Stage).

OUR TOWN closes Faction of Fools Theatre Company's exciting sixth season as DC's award-winning Commedia dell'Arte theatre company. The Fools are the Helen Hayes Awards recipients of the 2012 John Aniello Award for Outstanding Emerging Theatre Company.  You will laugh, cry and relate to these timeless themes posed by Wilder's and portrayed so artistically by DC's loved Faction of Fools.