Performer and show intertwine

Theater

Series: Center Stage's Off Center Festival brings to audiences unusual work filled with energy and unique identity

September 06, 1999|By J. Wynn Rousuck | J. Wynn Rousuck,SUN THEATER CRITIC

After a year's hiatus, Center Stage's Off Center Festival will return for two weekends this fall with a three-show lineup that includes two solo shows and the high jinks of the Flying Karamazov Brothers.

"These performers, in rapid-fire order, will redefine your idea of theater," says festival curator Jill Rachel Morris, who describes the offerings as a "rush of vivid characters, slam-bang storytelling, musical interludes, juggling -- yes, juggling -- and, of course, a Jell-O toss. Not necessarily in that order."

Off Center specializes in what Center Stage resident director Tim Vasen calls "performer-generated work -- you can't separate the performance from the script." The series "functions as a kind of aesthetic farm team for us," he continues, pointing out that Eric Bogosian was an Off Center attraction twice in the past five years, which led to the theater's decision to stage his play "Griller" as part of its main-stage season.

Off Center's hiatus, Vasen says, gave the theater a chance to build institutional support as well as concentrate on finding the best possible format for the series, which first took the shape of a festival two seasons ago.

"What we decided was that we liked this festival format, because we want Off Center to have an identity, which it didn't when it was spread throughout the year," Vasen explains.

"Our hope is that there will be an energy from having a bunch of different performers in the building at the same time."

In addition, he says, festival subscriptions will be available for the first time.

Here's the Off Center schedule:

"Spray," Head Theater, 8 p.m. Oct. 29; 9: 30 p.m. Oct. 30. Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for students. Monologuist Mike Albo focuses on the culture of excess in his rant about searching for meaning as part of "the 27-35 demographic," a generation that baffles marketers. The Village Voice said the piece combines "a nasty take on New Age, and a poetic sense of storytelling."

"Ebonics," Head Theater, 7 p.m. Oct. 30; 3 p.m. and 7: 30 p.m. Oct. 31. Tickets are $25 for adults, $12 for students. Best known as villainous Georgia Rae Mahoney, sister of a notorious drug lord, in the TV series "Homicide: Life on the Street," Hazelle Goodman will bring her newest solo show to Baltimore. Besides "Homicide," the Trinidad native's credits include her own HBO comedy special and a just-completed engagement at Joe's Pub at New York's Public Theater.

"Sharps, Flats, and Accidentals," Pearlstone Theater, 8 p.m. Nov. 5; 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Nov. 6. Tickets are $30 for adults, $15 for students. The ever-outrageous Flying Karamazov Brothers find the missing link between juggling and music in a work they claim takes audiences "from the classical to the pretty weird."

Subscriptions to the three-show Off Center Festival are $60 for adults, $30 for students, and are on sale now.

Call 410-332-0033.

Alliance needs worker

It is indicative of the strength of the local theater scene that the Baltimore Theatre Alliance, though barely three years old, is looking for its first paid employee -- a part-time administrator. The administrator will work with theaters, individual artists and the Alliance board; plan and organize meetings; maintain files and calendars; write reports and correspondence; and transcribe board meeting minutes.

Candidates should have strong organizational and communication skills; experience with grant-writing, word processing and data-base management; and an entrepreneurial approach to theater. Send resume and cover letter by Oct. 15 to: Baltimore Theatre Alliance, Part Time Administrator Search, Everyman Theatre, 1727 N. Charles St., Baltimore, Md. 21201.

For more information, call 410-783-0777.

Bethesda Arts has openings

As a further indication of the continuing growth of Baltimore theater, Bethesda Arts, a Baltimore company now in its second season, has various paid positions to fill, including directors, technical directors, stage managers, set and lighting designers, dance instructors (ballet, modern, jazz and African) and actors with teaching credentials.

Founded by Vicki L. Jones, a former wardrobe supervisor with New York's Negro Ensemble Company, Bethesda Arts is a nonprofit organization that seeks to combine theater with social outreach. The company develops and produces original plays, offers classes and sponsors special events.

Its mission also includes providing theatrical training "to young adults who express an interest in the arts, but are unable to study due to personal, financial and/or academic restrictions." Literacy is also taught to students who need help.

Bethesda Arts is at St. John's Church in Charles Village and hopes to move to another location. Individuals interested in filling the company's many openings should send resumes to: Bethesda Arts, 2640 St. Paul St., Baltimore, Md. 21218. Call 410-467-9767.

Pub Date: 9/06/99

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