Rush hour inspiration

Run of the Mill Theater creates six 15-minute plays aboard the Number 13 bus

July 16, 2010|By Mary Carole McCauley, The Baltimore Sun

Aboard the North Avenue bus — The woman in the khaki cutoffs with the close-cropped hairdo might not have expected her Hollywood moment to occur while she was riding the Number 13 bus. But if that was the venue chosen by Providence, she was determined not to miss her chance.

"You should put me in your play," she told her two seatmates as they bent over a laptop, conferring seriously. She'd never met the pair before they all had boarded the bus together. But that was before the woman learned that Ira Gamerman and Jayme Kilburn were working together on a play.

"I can cry on cue," the woman said. "And, I can sing."

With that, she launched into her favorite gospel song. "God is everywhere," she sang, not caring if the whole bus heard her. "Forever he'll be there …"

Really, she wasn't half-bad.

"You'll be a star," Kilburn told her fellow passenger.

Kilburn was joking, and the woman knew it. The play that she was directing, which was being written at that very moment by Gamerman, had already been cast with fellow members of Run of the Mill Theater.

But, you never know who you'll meet on the North Avenue bus. And, that was the whole point of the project.

"I wanted to do this because of the chance it presented for our playwrights to interact with people they wouldn't normally meet," said David Mitchell, the troupe's artistic director. "And you can't get any more engaged with the community than riding down North Avenue on the Number 13 bus.

Six playwrights had about 90 minutes to compose plays from scratch from what they observed on the bus on a Thursday evening during rush hour. After the playwrights had pounded out a draft, the scripts were handed over to the directors and actors. The troupe had just 24 hours to memorize the dialogue, rehearse, and prepare sets and costumes.

Audiences can see the results during a free performance at the Baltimore Theatre Project. The show, which is part of Artscape, will be staged at 9 p.m. tonight.

"Baltimore has some very colorful people," playwright Sharon Goldner said. "Who needs reality TV? You can just ride the bus instead."

mary.mccauley@baltsun.com

If you go

Run of the Mill Theater will stage the North Avenue Plays at 9 p.m. Friday at Baltimore Theatre Project, 45 W. Preston St. Free. Call 877-225-8466 or go to artscape.org.

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