A play premiere to enjoy nearby

NEIGHBORS

July 07, 2002|By Christina Bittner | Christina Bittner,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

NOT LONG ago, the world premiere of a play or movie only took place in New York, Los Angeles or London. The local premiere would take place much, much later. At times, it seemed as if the entire world got to see it before we did.

But that is changing. On Friday, the Chesapeake Arts Center, 194 Hammonds Lane, will hold the world premiere of Kathleen Barber's new play, Amanda's Line.

In Amanda's Line, Amanda is a successful fashion designer who can't finish the designs for her spring line. The pressure mounts as her deadline approaches, because she knows that if the designs aren't successful, her career will be over.

The cast features Binnie Ritchie Holum, Debra Bennett, Jan Steffen, Dickens Warfield, Cynthia Scott and Suzanne Knapik.

Rodney Bonds, chairman of the Baltimore Playwrights Festival, said that Barber is one of the more experienced writers who entered plays this year. "This is her eighth production with the Baltimore Playwrights Festival. In 1993 her play Camisado won first place; her play Whistle the Devil won first place in 1991. In 2001 and 1991 she won the Maryland State Artist Council's Individual Artist Award."

The production is part of the Baltimore Playwrights Festival's series of plays this year. Wayne Shipley, executive director of Chesapeake Center, said this is the second year the center has showcased plays entered in the festival. "I asked Memoe Nakamura, who's done some work with us, to read through the entries and select one for us. This is an intriguing play in many ways. It deals with the turning points in people's lives - a reflection of life and the choices that were made."

"Her [Barber's] work is very accessible," said Bonds. "She writes about people, their problems and their foibles. The core of the drama is about relationships."

The Baltimore Playwrights Festival began in 1981 at the suggestion of John Bruce Johnson of the Vagabond Theater in Fells Point. Johnson's office was overwhelmed with submissions from new playwrights and thought that a summer festival would help to increase the production of local theatrical offerings.

Bonds said the festival serves as a "first workshop" for playwrights. "It's an opportunity for the playwright to hear their work read by real actors. Until then, the characters exist only in their heads. This is the first time that they get to see the characters walking around as real human beings. They get a chance to find out if what looks good on paper sounds good when said by a human, to see what works and what doesn't. A joke may seem funny, but if the audience doesn't laugh, it isn't," he said.

"Theater is really the only truly collaborative art form. All plays are really a work in progress. The actors, directors, playwrights, lighting designers, costume designers all work together. All plays are done this way, even on Broadway. Neil Simon's plays go through this. The only time when it isn't done this way is if you're doing a play like The Importance of Being Earnest. Oscar Wilde isn't going to come and sit in the audience and tell you what he thinks," Bonds said.

Amanda's Line will be performed at Chesapeake Arts Center on Friday, Saturday and July 14, July 19-21 and July 26-27. Shows are at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and at 3 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $12 for members of the Chesapeake Arts Center and $15 for nonmembers. The play has adult content. Information: 410-636-6597.

"Beauty and the Beast"

Dan Raynor's marionettes will star in "Beauty and the Beast" at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Thursday at the Brooklyn Park library, 1 E. 11th Ave.

Marionettes are hand-carved wooden puppets. The performance is part of the library's summer reading program. There is no admission fee, but seating will be limited. Information: 410-222-6260.

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