Actor David Drake takes directing turn Anthology: 'The Mirror of Love,' which is being adapted

for the stage, is among five works collectively called 'Queer Cafe 2.'


June 01, 1998|By J. Wynn Rousuck | J. Wynn Rousuck,SUN THEATER CRITIC

Obie Award-winning actor and writer David Drake has been back in town lately. This time, the former Marylander has taken up directing, and Baltimore audiences will get to see a sample when "Queer Cafe 2" opens at the Theatre Project on Thursday.

For his contribution to this anthology of five short works, Drake, -- 34, is directing the premiere of "The Mirror of Love," a monologue by British comic book writer Alan Moore, which Drake is adapting for the stage along with Jose Villarrubia, who will perform the piece.

"The workaday actor part of me was very bored, and you're not in control," Drake said of his interest in directing, which he first tried off-Broadway with a play called "The Seductive Art of Becoming God and Famous" in October.

Drake said that "The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me" -- his semiautobiographical one-man show about growing up gay in Maryland -- has had more than 100 productions worldwide, in countries ranging from Japan to South Africa, since its off-Broadway debut in 1992.

"The Mirror of Love" is an example of Drake's continuing effort to raise consciousness about gay rights.

Selected by Villarrubia, a Baltimore photographer and teacher who has known and worked with Drake for more than a dozen years, the 20-minute piece was written by Moore in 1988 as part of a collection of short works protesting a piece of homophobic legislation in Britain.

Drake describes "The Mirror of Love" as a stream-of-consciousness work that traces "waves of oppression against homosexuality throughout history."

Initially, he was going to stage it as a lecture, especially since that format is familiar to first-time actor Villarrubia, a faculty member at the Baltimore School for the Arts, Towson University and the Maryland Institute, College of Art.

Instead, Drake decided to go for a more emotional approach, based on the work's underlying theme of romantic love.

"We reconceived it completely as a dream, the subconscious, a time-tunnel concept," he explained, adding the main piece of scenery will be a bed and that Villarrubia will perform in the nude.

"Queer Cafe 2" will be presented at the Theatre Project, 45 W. Preston St., at 8 p.m. Thursday through Sunday and June 10-14.

The other pieces on the bill are: "Penelope and the Sterile Field," by James Magruder; "Pretzels and Longing," by Linda Eisenstein; "Queer Fruit," by Sara Hardy; and "Biop-see," by Tatiana de la Tierra. Tickets are $14. (A discussion with the artists will follow Thursday's opening night performance.) Call 410-752-8558.

Power struggles in play

Cockpit in Court, the summer theater at Essex Community College, opened its season this past weekend with "Lysistrata," but, director Joe Brady explained, this was "Lysistrata" with a modern twist.

Brady, artistic director of Mother Lode Productions and a founding member of the comedy troupe, the Flying Tongues, began teaching at Essex in the fall, and for his Cockpit debut, he incorporated elements from all three of these endeavors.

From Mother Lode, he borrowed an interest in plays with social and political significance; from Flying Tongues, he borrowed a madcap sensibility; and from Essex, he borrowed seven student actors, who make up more than half the cast of "Lysistrata."

The director said he sees the play -- which tells the story of a group of women who refuse to sleep with their soldier husbands until peace is declared -- "as a comedy about the struggle for power at every level of society, whether it's between men and women or the domestic spheres and public spheres of life."

Besides incorporating modern dress (designed by Missy Webb) and music (composed by Paul Matthews), Brady turned Aristophanes' comedy into a play-within-a-play.

"We're saying there's this group in Essex called the Essex Power Cult ..., which, in celebration of its power, puts on this play every year," Brady said of his approach. And, just in case there's any further doubt about the production's comic intent, the cast also includes a bona fide, Ringling Bros.-trained clown, Tom Dougherty, of the local theater company, Theatricks.

"Lysistrata" continues at Essex Community College, 7201 Rossville Blvd., at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 7 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $7.50.

Here's the rest of the Cockpit season: June 19-28: "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" (Mainstage), "Murder at the Vicarage" (Upstairs Cabaret); July 9-19: "The Princess and the Pea" (Court Jesters Young People's Theatre, Lecture Hall, Administration Building); July 24-Aug. 2: "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" (Mainstage), "Blood Brothers" (Upstairs Cabaret). Call 410-780-6369.

'Rent' is almost due

Tickets go on sale Sunday for "Rent," the 1996 Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning musical coming to the Mechanic Theatre, Sept. 29-Nov. 1.

The groundbreaking rock musical, written by the late Jonathan Larson, is an updated retelling of Puccini's "La Boheme," set in New York's East Village. Tickets are $30-$65. Call 410-752-1200.

Pub Date: 6/01/98

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