Saturday, November 19, 2011

Another Turn in the Right Direction for Roanoke Theater

Todd Ristau
Live theater in the Roanoke Valley continues to run circles around that in most communities of comparable size and many that are considerably larger. Since Mill Mountain Theatre--the region's professional organization--closed nearly two years ago, a loose confederation of theater people has actually made theater better here than I recall it ever being before.

Now comes a play from Sam Macher, "The Arctic Circle (and a Recipe for Swedish Pancakes),"  that will be performed on the recently-renovated blackbox Waldron Stage at MMT for six performances beginning on Valentine's Day. It will feature Hollins theater professor, director, writer and actor Todd Ristau, Chad Runyon, Susie Young and Drew Dowdy in the cast. Bob Moss, founder of Playwrights Horizons and  a visiting faculty member in the Playwright’s Lab, will direct.

"The Arctic Circle (and a recipe for Swedish Pancakes)" is a comedy about a woman in a troubled marriage who travels through time, space and Sweden to reexamine her past relationships for solutions to her newly found troubles. Unable to find the clear answers she needs, she must look inside herself to find what she is looking for.

Says Todd Ristau, "It will be very similar to the kind of event we did at Studio Roanoke with the opening of 'Ashville' some years ago."

At an invitation only dress rehearsal, Bob Moss will talk about what an important economic and cultural driver new plays can be and how Roanoke is starting to be talked about in the same breath as the Provincetown Playhouse and Albee’s Playwright’s Unit in days past. "They are known for igniting the Off-Off Broadway movement," says Ristau. Moss was the artistic director of the Playwright’s Unit and it was Playwright’s Horizons that started the reclaiming of 42nd Street.

The entire production of "The Arctic Circle" will get on a train after the run closes in Roanoke and transfer to Manhattan for a week at the 440 Studios.

Ristau says, "This is really an unprecedented event, a demonstration of a tremendous new level of cooperation between Mill Mountain Theatre and the Hollins Theatre Department, and the start of something unique and new in terms of connecting our local theater scene with a wider network of theaters and arts organizations around the country."

Good theater in the region has continued to build for a while, and this production looks like another important step in the process.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Dan, but to avoid any confusion, this production has no affiliation with Studio Roanoke and is entirely a joint venture between the playwriting program at Hollins University and Mill Mountain Theatre.