Review: A Public Reading of An Unproduced Screenplay About the Death of Walt Disney at Single Carrot Theatre

By Jason Crawford Samios-Uy

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Running Time: Approx. 90 minutes with no intermission

Walt Disney. Chances are, you know who he is and, more importantly, what he’s done. There’s no denying the man was uber-successful in business and “the happiest place on earth” came from the depths of his mind. However, for all the joy and happiness he brought to millions upon millions of people of all ages, even until this day, there was, of course, a darker side to this captain of industry. In Single Carrot Theatre’s latest offering, A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay About The Death of Walt Disney by Lucas Hnath, Directed by Genevieve De Mahy and Matthew Shea, they shed light on the more unsavory characteristics of the this “Uncle Walt” and gives a glimpse into behind the scenes of some of his best and brightest ideas.

Disney Press - Meghan Stanton, Eric Poch, Paul Diem, Mohammad R. Suaidi 2

(l-r) Meghan Stanton, Eric Poch, Paul Diem, Mohammad R. Suaidi. Credit: Britt Olsen-Ecker

Don’t let the title fool you. This piece is not just a reading but a play about a reading of an unproduced screenplay. Actually, it’s kind of clever. The screenplay being read is supposedly one written by Walt Disney himself, about himself, and includes background information during various points of interest in his life that the public may not have been privy to. If its point was to make Walt Disney look like a completely self-centered asshole who did what he needed to see out his visions and dreams, no matter what it was he had to do or say or who he had to hurt, this piece was totally successful. My question is… why?

I’m not a total fanatic when it comes to Disney. I enjoy the films, the music, the theme parks, all that… but I’m not going out of my way for them. However, with that being said, I’m curious as to why this piece was written. Was it simply to mar a man’s name? To shatter an image? To break the magic his name has brought to the aforementioned millions upon millions of people who live and breathe anything Disney and soak up it creates? If so, why? What’s the point? What’s more, the man isn’t even around to defend himself. Why try to destroy the legacy of man who has brought happiness to the world? One argument could be because bringing that happiness brought pain and strife to others. I don’t deny that. It probably did, or so says Lucas Hnath in this script. But, please, show me a man as successful as Disney who built an empire being the nice guy all the time. Is it right? I won’t tell you what’s right or wrong, that’s for you to decide for yourself, but is it a necessary evil when trying to attain the success Disney wanted? Yes. The material in this piece seems one sided and bitter and doesn’t seem to tell the story for enlightenment, but, for reasons only known to the author, for spite and “sticking it to the man,” as it were. That’s how I see it, anyway.

Disney Press - Mohammad R. Suaidi, Paul Diem

Mohammad R. Suaidi, Paul Diem. Credit: Britt Olsen-Ecker

But I digress… I’ll step off my soapbox and get into the production itself, which is actually a very well-put together production. I could have done without the production of getting from the lobby to my seat, going through a dark, tight corridor with LED icicles that, I assume, is supposed to represent some kind of theme park or carnival attraction, then the clog at the performance space entrance because we had to stop to be seated personally by “Mr. Disney” with this Cheshire cat smile. When it’s general seating, I like to get from the lobby to my seat (which I like to choose) as quickly and efficiently as possible.

One major problem with this piece is the script. I am actually a fan of Lucas Hnath and it pains me to say, but this script is nothing but a jumble with incomplete sentences and cut offs. It’s hard to follow along and it continues through the ENTIRE piece. Luckily, this production of chock full of an able cast because the script is pretentious and trite being more show than substance.

Disney Press - Mohammad R. Suaidi, Meghan Stanton, Paul Diem

Mohammad r. Suaidi, Meghan Stanton, Paul Diem. Credit: Britt Olsen-Ecker

The space, however, is set up beautifully and that’s one of the things I really like about Single Carrot Theatre – their ability to change their space to fit the needs of the production. The tiered seating worked nicely for this production and the minimal Scenic Design by Kristin Hessenauer, Hayden Muller, Allison Blocechl, Cydney Cohn, and Sierra Ho is appropriate and effect, but I’m not sure why so many hands were involved in such a minimal Scenic Design… unless they are counting the seating arrangement and creepy entrance corridor, then maybe, but the simple cramped conference room setting is fitting and helps set the mood of this production.

Lighting Design by Helen Garcia-Alton and Sound Design by Glenn Ricci are impeccable and really help move this piece along. The changes from dim to full light are flawless and set the time and mood for each scene bringing the action together seamlessly. Garcia-Alton manages to capture the two sides of Walt Disney with both subtle and drastic changes in the lighting and keeps the audience engaged. Playing in tandem with the Lighting Design, Ricci’s Sound Design is careful not to overwhelm the production but blends in with the action to help tell the story and keep the action interesting.

Disney Press - Meghan Stanton, Eric Poch, Paul Diem, Mohammad R. Suaidi 1

(l-r) Meghan Stanton, Eric Poch, Paul Diem, Mohammad R. Suaidi. Credit: Britt Olsen-Ecker

Co-Directors Genevieve De Mahy and Matthew Shea have a good grasp of this material and seem to like the purpose of exposing the dark side of Disney and stripping away prestige of the name. The minimal staging is wise and the action is stellar. The fact that all characters, except for Walt Disney are handcuffed to the table as if being kept prisoner and forced to listen, is powerful and drives home the kind of person Walt Disney was in real life. Their casting is top notch and they convened a cast with great chemistry and talent to pull this material off. Overall, their vision and presentation are on point and they should be applauded for their efforts in bringing this challenging script to life.

Eric Poch takes on the role of Ron Miller, Disney’s son-in-law, who is a fan, or so it seems, and needs a job. Poch seems to really embody this character with a goofy smile and tone that fits the character nicely (a former pro football player). He plays the character as an oafish but lovable guy and makes a good showing working well with and off of his cast mates.

Disney Press - Meghan Stanton, Eric Poch, Paul Diem

(l-r) Meghan Stanton, Eric Poch, Paul Diem. Credit: Britt Olsen-Ecker

Mohammad R. Suaidi tackles the role of the level headed and loyal lesser known brother, Roy Disney. Suaidi seems to have a good grasp on this character and seems comfortable in the role. His chemistry with Paul Diem (Walt Disney) is terrific and they work well with each other. This character could easily be played as a doormat for the title character to walk over, but Suaidi finds a good balance of loyalty and standing his ground in this character that plays quite well.

Meghan Stanton as Daughter (assuming it’s Diane Disney, since Ron is her husband) is a definite highlight of this production. She doesn’t have much to say but every line she delivers is genuine and her confidence and presence is strong, which works well with this discontented character. Stanton emotes the conflicting emotions of this character such as her love and hatred for her less-than-saintly father and her worry for her children is clear making for an overall outstanding performance.

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Paul Diem as Walt Disney. Credit: Britt Olsen-Ecker

Paul Diem shines as he takes on the titular role of Walt Disney. From the moment he enters the lobby to direct the audience to the performance space, Diem embodies Disney head to toe, which is no small feat. Though the structure of this script is horrendous, he does a brilliant job with his delivery, not skipping a beat in the fast-paced jumble of words. Not only is his delivery good, he really seems to have a good understanding of the character and man his he portraying.

Final thought…  A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay About The Death of Walt Disney at Single Carrot Theatre is an interesting take on the beloved Walt Disney and sheds light on a darker side of the man who brought the world so much happiness. I hesitantly write this, but… this was not my kind of show. Now, let me be clear that the performances were pretty much spot on and the ensemble presented the material superbly with focused and engaging staging, but the script is trite and garbled with all of the “cut to” and broken sentences making it difficult to understand (and utter agony for anyone with an English degree). I’m actually a fan of Lucas Hnath and thoroughly enjoyed another piece producer last year in Baltimore, The Christians, so I know he can write, but this one seems to be trying too hard. However, don’t take my word for it. Go see it and form your own opinion, it just might be your kind of show.

This is what I thought of Single Carrot Theatre’s production of A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay About The Death of Walt Disney… What did you think? Please feel free to leave a comment!

A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay About The Death of Walt Disney will play through February 25 at Single Carrot Theatre, 2600 North Howard Street, Baltimore, MD. For tickets, call the box office at 443-844-9253 or you can purchase them online.

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Press Release: Truth, power, and subversion take center stage in THE DEATH OF WALT DISNEY

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Baltimore, MD – Single Carrot Theatre’s 11th season continues with A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay About the Death of Walt Disney. From Lucas Hnath, writer of The Christians and the Tony-award-winning A Doll’s House Part 2, The Death of Walt Disney takes audiences deep inside the dark heart of the Disney machine. Far from the sanitized history presented by the Walt Disney Company, Hnath’s portrait of the megalomaniac behind the magic is a sharp and blackly comic look at one man’s quest for immortality. As the lines of fantasy and reality blur in this dramatic retelling, dramaturg Abigail Cady has worked closely with directors Genevieve de Mahy and Matthew Shea to navigate the murky waters of Walt Disney’s life.

“A dramaturg is responsible for helping the production artists maintain the integrity of the world of the play,” said Cady. “For this play, that is a very particular world.” Cady, de Mahy, and Shea met constantly throughout the process, sorting through truths and embellishments that permeate the many layers of Hnath’s script.

In today’s climate of ‘fake news’ and ‘alternative facts’ Hnath’s script feels especially relevant, though the heightened circumstances of the theatre feel “less subversive” in a world that is “more surreal every day.” Cady, well-versed in sorting fact and fiction, adds that “the essential truth of a story told in the theatre always has been and will continue to be an emotional, human truth.” ‘Truth’ is a subjective and slippery target in the theatre, as it is in history. Modern audiences must constantly examine the sources and storytellers who shape their understanding of the world. History, after all, is written by the victor.

The same can be said for the ‘history’ of the Walt Disney Company. “It was very difficult to find sources that did not skew towards positive or negative portrayals of the man,” Cady remarked, adding that “most official documents” are held by the Disney Company; accessing them is virtually impossible. “Biographies are either sanitized or dubiously sourced.”

Modern conversations about men, power, and controlling the flow of information feel especially prescient alongside Hnath’s script. For Cady, Walt Disney is a familiar figure; the ‘Great Man of Genius’ who has cast “a long shadow over our cultural consciousness since the country’s founding.” Be it Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, or Walt himself, “The Death of Walt Disney grapples with the question of how to reconcile a person’s contributions to the world with the damage they’ve done to it.” While Hnath may not have all the answers, audiences are given a window into the real, complex world of ‘Great Men’ like Walt Disney.

The Death of Walt Disney opens February 2, with performance continuing through February 25. The cast features ensemble members Paul Diem (Walt Disney) and Meghan Stanton (Daughter) alongside guest artists Eric Poch (Ron Miller) and Mohammad R. Suaidi (Roy Disney).

About the Play:
A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay about
THE DEATH OF WALT DISNEY
By Lucas Hnath
Directed by Genevieve de Mahy & Matthew Shea

Leave the magic behind in this darkly humorous, cutting examination of the megalomaniac who shaped a thousand childhoods: Mr. Walt Disney. The carefree and charming creator of so many beloved characters – father-figure to a generation of Americans – fades away as this fraught and fast-paced play chases down the dark heart of the Disney machine. Power, betrayal, deception, and disillusionment weave together to form a portrait of a man so full of hubris and obsessed with his own legacy, he tried to remake the world and achieve immortality. Join us at the table. Regional premiere.

WHEN:
Pay-What-You-Can Previews: Wednesday, January 31 and Thursday, February 1 at 8pm
Running: February 2 – 25
Thursday- Saturday at 8pm
Sundays at 3pm
*There is no performance on Sunday, February 4.

WHERE:
Single Carrot Theatre
2600 N. Howard Street
Baltimore, MD 21218
Entrance on 26th Street.
Free parking available in adjacent lot and on the street.

TICKETS AND ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Tickets: $10-$29
Web: singlecarrot.com
Phone: 443-844-9253
Email: boxoffice(at)singlecarrot.com
Twitter: @singlecarrot
Instagram: @singlecarrot

PRESS RELEASE: Single Carrot Theatre Hosts Continues Conversations Surrounding Lear

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Single Carrot Theatre Hosts Continues Conversations Surrounding Lear

Baltimore, MD – Single Carrot’s 11th Season is now open with its thought-provoking and
fast-paced regional premiere of Lear by Young Jean Lee. Like Shakespeare’s tragedy, Lee’s
text includes universal themes of family conflict, guilt, and madness; at the same time, it
takes a nuanced look race, wrestling with mortality, and the complex dynamics between
aging parents and their adult children. In the hope of continuing the conversations sparked by this vibrant production, Single Carrot will be hosting talkbacks with panelists from Morgan State University, Center Stage, the ACME Corporation, and Chesapeake
Shakespeare Company.

Race, Shakespeare, and Young Jean Lee
Sunday, October 15, following the 3pm performance

Join Gerrad Taylor of Chesapeake Shakespeare Company and Shirley Basfield-Dunlap of
Morgan State University for a discussion on the complex relationship between modern audiences and classical material. Share your thoughts on Young Jean Lee’s frenetic adaptation of Shakespeare’s famous tragedy, and engage with our panelists on issues of race, identity and performance.

Pride Night at Single Carrot Theatre!
Thursday, October 19, preceding the 8pm performance

Join us for cocktails, live pre-show music from Christen B, and a fabulous evening of theatre celebrating the 9th Annual LGBT Center Awareness Day! More about the artist: Christen B seamlessly blends electronic and acoustic instruments with transcendent vocals leaving listeners in a state of euphoria! This Baltimore native is changing the way people experience music. She allows the audience to watch as she masterfully layers unique sounds while looping them on the spot and leaving the crowd wanting more!

Adapting the Classics
Friday, October 20, following the 8pm performance

Join Gavin Witt of Center Stage and Lola Pierson and Stephen Nunns of The ACME Corporation as they discuss the complicated task of adapting famous classical texts for a modern audience. Nunns and Pierson collaborated last year on an original adaptation of A Streetcar Named Desire, Stranger Kindness, which was recently named “Best Play” in City Paper’s Best of Baltimore Reader’s poll. Witt, along with Center Stage’s Kwame Kwei-Armah, is part of a national project to reimagine and update Shakespeare’s plays for a modern audience. Join them in a conversation on the nuanced process of bringing a well-known, perhaps beloved, text into the present.

About the Play:
Lear
By Young Jean Lee
Directed by Andrew Peters
Shakespearean drama meets millennial self-indulgence in this outlandish and driving take on King Lear. Boring, stuffy parents have been left for dead – consigning audiences to the not-so-tender mercies of a younger generation, a mix of heroes and villains indulging their own selfish whims. Despite sharp wits and sharper teeth, these Kardashian-esque kids are comically shallow, callous, and vain: more concerned with dancing and drama than their own doomed parents. But superficial pleasures can only reign for so long before their conscience catches up with them, unearthing ugly secrets, doubts, and fears. Regional premiere.

WHEN:
Previews: Wednesday, October 4 and Thursday, October 5 at 8pm
Running: October 6 – 29
Thursday- Saturday at 8pm
Sundays at 3pm

WHERE:
Single Carrot Theatre
2600 N. Howard Street
Baltimore, MD 21218
Entrance on 26th Street.
Free parking available in adjacent lot and on the street.

TICKETS AND ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Tickets: $10-$29
Web: singlecarrot.com
Phone: 443-844-9253
Email: boxoffice(at)singlecarrot.com
Twitter: @singlecarrot
Instagram: @singlecarrot

PRESS RELEASE: Glass Mind Theatre Founder returns to Baltimore to direct a Lear focused on family and mortality

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Glass Mind Theatre Founder returns to Baltimore to direct a Lear focused on family and mortality

Baltimore, MD – Single Carrot is thrilled to welcome director Andrew Peters back to Baltimore to helm its October production of Young Jean Lee’s Lear. Lee’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s King Lear is a challenging mix of postmodern satire, meditative exploration, and nuanced relationships. For Peters, these interpersonal conflicts are some of the most fruitful artistically.

“The relationship between Lear and his daughters [in Shakespeare’s text] is so incredibly complicated,” he states. “We expect to see the madness, but we realize we are watching children cast off their father. It’s heartbreaking. Young Jean Lee’s Lear amps this up; we only see the young people of this world, confronting and accepting mortality, doing whatever that can NOT to think about Dad. And this comes back to bite them in the ass. Hard.”

He adds that the show is also particularly relevant “at a volatile moment in our history,”
drawing parallels between Lee’s characters and the contemporary reality of “families in
turmoil.”

“I feel the heartbeat of this play so strongly when I think of those relationships,” Peters
muses. “At some point in our lives we recognize that our parents are human beings. When have we wanted to throw them into ‘the storm’?”

But, he is quick to point out, while Lear’s themes are weighty, it is far from a dramatic,
existential meditation. “We watch these people within the frame of a specific world,” he
says. “We recognize how absurd they are, want to grab the popcorn and watch the
trainwreck unfold. But there’s a big turn. A lot of the rules of this world get broken and,
suddenly, we have to take a step back. Everyone in the room needs to, in some way,
participate in a meditation on mortality. This isn’t just about King Lear and his daughters. It’s about our relationship to our own families.”

Andrew Peters founded Glass Mind Theatre in 2009 and served as its Artistic Director for four years. He has directed numerous productions in Baltimore, DC, and Chicago, where he worked at DePaul University and Victory Gardens Theatre. He holds an MFA in Directing from The Theatre School at DePaul University, as well as a BS from Towson University. Peters will also be teaching at Stevenson University this fall.

Lear
By Young Jean Lee
Directed by Andrew Peters

Shakespearean drama meets millennial self-indulgence in this outlandish and driving take on King Lear. Boring, stuffy parents have been left for dead – consigning audiences to the not-so-tender mercies of a younger generation, a mix of heroes and villains indulging their own selfish whims. Despite sharp wits and sharper teeth, these Kardashian-esque kids are comically shallow, callous, and vain: more concerned with dancing and drama than their own doomed parents. But superficial pleasures can only reign for so long before their conscience catches up with them, unearthing ugly secrets, doubts, and fears. Regional premiere.

WHEN:
Previews: Wednesday, October 4 and Thursday, October 5 at 8pm
Running: October 6 – 29
Thursday- Saturday at 8pm
Sundays at 3pm

WHERE:
Single Carrot Theatre
2600 N. Howard Street
Baltimore, MD 21218
Entrance on 26th Street.

Free parking available in adjacent lot and on the street.

TICKETS AND ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Tickets: $10-$29
Web: singlecarrot.com
Phone: 443-844-9253
Email: boxoffice@singlecarrot.com
Twitter: @singlecarrot
Instagram: @singlecarrot

PRESS RELEASE: Single Carrot Theatre kicks off Season 11 with Lear

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Single Carrot Theatre kicks off Season 11 with Lear

Baltimore, MD – Single Carrot Theatre’s 11th season begins with an outrageously original
take on a familiar story: Lear by Young Jean Lee. This adaptation of Shakespeare’s text
shuffles the titular king into the wings, allowing a younger generation to step into the
spotlight. With modern language, classical characters, music, dance, and fantastic violence, Lee crafts a masterful portrait of parents, children, and the exchange of power.
Young Jean Lee is an acclaimed writer and director whose work has been performed
worldwide – including at Single Carrot Theatre, where Lee’s Church was produced as part of the company’s 5th season. Lee will make her Broadway debut in 2018 with Straight White Men; she will be the first Asian-American woman in history to see her work produced on Broadway.

Lear will be directed by Andrew Peters, and feature Ensemble Member Paul Diem
alongside four other local actors. Final casting decisions will be announced in the coming
week.

Lear
By Young Jean Lee
Directed by Andrew Peters

Shakespearean drama meets millennial self-indulgence in this outlandish and driving take on King Lear. Boring, stuffy parents have been left for dead – consigning audiences to the not-so-tender mercies of a younger generation, a mix of heroes and villains indulging their own selfish whims. Despite sharp wits and sharper teeth, these Kardashian-esque kids are comically shallow, callous, and vain: more concerned with dancing and drama than their own doomed parents. But superficial pleasures can only reign for so long before their conscience catches up with them, unearthing ugly secrets, doubts, and fears. Regional premiere.

WHEN:
Previews: Wednesday, October 4 and Thursday, October 5 at 8pm
Running: October 6 – 29
Thursday- Saturday at 8pm
Sundays at 3pm

WHERE:
Single Carrot Theatre
2600 N. Howard Street
Baltimore, MD 21218
Entrance on 26th Street.
Free parking available in adjacent lot and on the street.

TICKETS AND ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Tickets: $10-$29
Web: singlecarrot.com
Phone: 443-844-9253
Email: boxoffice@singlecarrot.com
Twitter: @singlecarrot
Instagram: @singlecarrot

PRESS RELEASE: A Deeper look at STEREO Akt, the Hungarian Company behind Promenade: Baltimore

Single Carrot Theatre’s World Premiere of Promenade: Baltimore coming on June 2nd!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

BALTIMORE, MD – The ambitious international collaboration and world premiere, Promenade: Baltimore, opens next week at Single Carrot Theatre. Interviews and outreach to local community members continue to influence the shape of the show, a new element in the model first conceived by the ensemble of STEREO Akt, the Hungarian company whose Budapest-based show, Promenade: Urban Fate Tourism, served as the inspiration for this new endeavor. When Single Carrot’s Artistic Director, Genevieve de Mahy saw the show in 2015, she was inspired by the way the relationship between audience and city was changed and enhanced by the performance and began the process of collaborating across oceans.

STEREO Akt is a theatre production workshop based on the continuous collaboration of director Martin Boross and produce Anikó Rácz. Founded in 2011 and based in Budapest, the company’s work is focused on the – often silent – interaction of performers and viewers; they mount a diverse mix of stage performances, site-specific projects, and social actions with the help of an ever-growing group of artists and volunteers from the local community. Each STEREO Akt performance begins with a simple questions: what will happen to the viewer? This unique emphasis on experience – rather than text – provides the opportunity to move out of traditional theatre spaces allowing the magical and ordinary to blend against a backdrop of everyday life.

Amonst those who have traveled to the United States to collaborate on Promenade: Baltimore are Julia Jakubowska and Martin Boross, both of whom were involved in the original STEREO Akt production. Jakubowska, who is originally from Poland, first performed in Promenade when she was a newcomer to Hungary and spoke virtually no Hungarian. “I felt back then that I was an audience member more than a performer,” she recalls, adding that her original character – a woman contemplating suicide – was drawn from Jakubowska’s own feelings of loneliness and isolation. “Being here in Baltimore is much different… getting to know the city through the eyes of our actors, who are my first guide and teachers in the city. It’s an exciting and rich experience.”

Boross, who serves as director for both versions of Promenade, added that interviews with local community-members have been particularly inspiring: “One of our interviewees said that Baltimore either gives you a hug or punches you in the stomach. The city is full of paradoxes, and it has many faces… by getting in touch with the communities here, it becomes clear that there are an incredible number of citizens who want to act, who can articulate the problems of the neighborhoods, and are able to choose the right tools to move things forward.”

“Working with STEREO Akt on a project about Baltimore has been a process of exchange,” said Single Carrot Artistic Director Genevieve de Mahy. “They see Baltimore with fresh eyes and notice things I had forgotten about. I show them things that you would not see on the surface.”

“We’d like to make something that is entertaining and provocative at the same time,” Boross stated. “To create a plot that avoids the cliches, that is not harmful, but honest, and gives room for dialogue. To create something that makes people feel that they see themselves truly. Even if it’s a fragile state that image reflects, they can still be proud of this image.”

This immense international collaboration opens on June 2nd and runs through June 25th.

Show Synopsis:

Grab your buss pass and get ready to ride! Single Carrot Theatre and STEREO Akt present Promenade: Baltimore, a boundary-breaking production that invites its audience to board a bus and traverse the city, passing through neighborhoods both familiar and unknown. Audience members watch through the windows as actors on the street present poetic expression of everyday life in Baltimore, complimented by a live-mixed soundscape of music, narration, and stories based on and told by neighborhood residents. Promenade: Baltimore celebrates and explores all that is Baltimore: highlighting it’s complexity, struggles, treasures, and, ultimately, its undeniable  beauty. World Premiere.

WHEN:

June 2-June 25, 2017

Thursdays & Fridays at 6:30pm

Saturdays & Sundays at 2pm & 6:30pm

 

WHERE:

Single Carrot Theatre

2600 N. Howard Street Baltimore, MD 21218

Entrance on 26th Street.

Free parking available in adjacent lot and on the street.

 

TICKETS AND ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Tickets: $10-$45

Web: singlecarrot.com

Phone: 443-844-9253

Email: boxoffice@singlecarrot.com

Twitter: @singlecarrot

Instagram: @singlecarrot

“The day is coming when a single carrot, freshly observed, will set off a revolution.” -Paul Cezanne

Review: A Short Reunion at Single Carrot Theatre

By Jason Crawford Samios-Uy

Running Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes with no intermission

Baltimore is full of quirkiness… there’s no way around it. However, it’s also filled with a certain charm that earns it the Charm City nickname. Adding to all this quirkiness and charm, independent theatres have been popping up all over the place and trying new things, stepping out of the traditional theatre experience and contributing to the overall personality of the city. Some have been around for a few years, ten to be exact, and Single Carrot Theatre’s latest offering, A Short Reunion, Directed by various Single Carrot folks, of past and present, and Written by various authors is a new, creative presentation of short plays that takes the audience on a little field trip through Remington, a little corner of Baltimore, and proudly puts the city’s quirkiness and charm on display for an evening of blending the older (original) Single Carrot Theatre with the new.

The evening started out by congregating outside of Single Carrot theatre and breaking up into groups with tour guides and I had the pleasure of being in cute-as-a-button Brian Gilbert’s group and after a few brief comments giving us the ground rules of the “tour”, we were off… all the way over to Parts & Labor Restaurant, which was about 20 paces. Whew! The agony! Once there, the performances hit the ground running with 36 Questions or Emily & Sanders by Adam Szymkowicz, Directed by the current Single Carrot Theatre Ensemble. It’s a cute, relatable piece about a couple, Emily and Sanders, on a first date, trying to break through the awkwardness when they finally decide to play a “game” where they have to get through 36 questions they’ve found on the Internet. This piece is a great way to start off the evening, though, outside of a traditional theatre setting, the performances seem a bit scripted and unnatural, but the text and story are authentic and entertaining.

Paul Diem and Ben Kleymeyer in Grand Mal. Credit: Single Carrot Theatre

Next, cute Brian guides us down the street a few blocks, all the while keeping us engaged with questions and anecdotes relating to the piece or personal stories, to Church of the Guardian Angel where, after climbing a flight of narrow, old stairs, the audience is escorted into the sanctuary where we experience Grand Mal by Shawn Reddy, Directed by Brendan Ragan, dealing with a funeral and the dead man’s son or… sons? The material covers some existential topics such as time and space and, well, traveling through time and space and might be a bit predictable, but is enjoyable none the less.

Jessica Moose Garrett and Elliott Rauh in The Ninth Planet. Credit: Single Carrot Theatre

Leaving the church, we trek down to a corner spot where The Ninth Planet by Olivia Dufault, Directed by Lauren A. Saunders starts its performances right there on the sidewalk. Performed beautifully by Alix Fenhagen, Jessica Moose Garrett, and Elliott Rauh, this piece tells the tale of an exceedingly bright young woman who ventures off to find a better place and something new while, at home, she doesn’t apply herself in school and is stuck in a crazy situation with a single alcoholic dad. It takes a moment to “get” the piece, but the actors are committed and the space is very intimate, automatically immersing the audience.

Rohaizad Suaidi and Lauren Erica Jackson in Tense White People Have Dinner. Credit: Single Carrot Theatre

From there, the evening takes us to the Young Audiences offices for Tense White People Have Dinner by Jen Silverman, Directed by Dustin C.T. Morris. This funny piece takes us through a dinner party, of sorts, with two sisters who have very different relationships with their gentlemen. With eyeballs falling out and revelations being made, this piece is serious, yet funny with commendable performances, though Rohaizad Suaidi seemed rather scripted and over-animated, he still gives a committed performances to match the wonderful performances from Meghan Stanton, Matt Shea, and Lauren Erica Jackson. By the way, The Young Audiences offices is a great time to take a restroom break, should you need it!

Meg Jabaily and Nathan Fulton in Bruce/Brenda/David. Credit: Single Carrot Theatre

Bruce/Brenda/David by J. Buck Jabaily and Nathan Fulton (with Aldo Pantoja and Meg Jabaily), Directed by J. Buck Jabaily is next on the tour, with cute Brain guiding a few steps away from the Young Audiences offices to right in front of Single Carrot Theatre and this piece, based on true events, is definitely a highlight of the evening. Simple and performed impeccably by Aldo Pantoja, Nathan Fulton, and Meg Jabaily, this piece gives us insight into a hermaphroditic young person and a scrupulous, but respected Johns Hopkins doctor and events leading the sad ending of a person named Bruce, then Brenda, then David. It is a poignant, important piece that promotes all kinds of feels.

At this point, we’re back to Emily & Sanders (from 36 Questions or Emily & Sanders) to check in and see how they were doing on their first date and they’ve gotten through most of the questions and seem to make a connection. At this point, we also lose cute Brian as a guide in a very over-the top, absolutely scripted (I hope it’s intended to be) hullabaloo between Brian and Ben Kleymeyer, who could pull back the acting a bit, if authenticity is the objective, and Brian is “fired” or “quits” in a huff, leaving Ben to guide us to our next destination.

This time, we join forces with another group and are back to Church of the Guardian Angel and we are guided upstairs to a space that had a past life as a small gymnasium to experience Live Through This by Caridad Svich, Directed by Genevieve De Mahy. I’m going to admit it. Someone is going to have to explain the purpose of this piece to me. In a nutshell, it was like an art installment of various points of history with a piece of hanging art in the middle of the room that theatre-goers could participate in its creation by pouring paint onto it. A disembodied voice blares out of a single speaker on one side of the room with ambient music backing him up. Everyone is so busy reading the descriptions of the exhibits, hardly anyone pays attention to the voice or what he is saying, so, this one might want to be thought through a bit more. Aside from the distractions from the text, the piece just doesn’t make much sense to me, but it could be my fault… Maybe I should have concentrated more on the disembodied voice?

Dustin C.T. Morris and Elliott Rauh in Itch So Bad. Credit: Single Carrot Theatre

After scratching my head from Live Through This, we are walked down the street to the Miller’s Court Building where we are treated to Itch So Bad by Joshua Conkel, Directed by Ben Klemeyer. This piece is hilarious, performed bravely and confidently by committed, eventually scantily clad actors Elliott Rauh and Dustin C.T. Morris. Poking fun at promiscuity and the risks that go along with such a blithe attitude toward sex, this piece (which is set up more traditionally with seats to take a load off) is another highlight of the evening adding a rag-tag live band of “Scabies” to help the story along with familiar songs that add an extra bit of humor to the already funny piece.

Genevieve De Mahy and Alix Fenhagen in One More Time. Credit: Single Carrot Theatre

The night begins to wind down in a garage/workshop across the street from Single Carrot Theatre with One More Time by Eric Coble, Directed by Brendan Ragan and this short piece, told completely through action, with one solitary word of dialogue, is practically silent but powerful. The actresses, Genevieve De Mahy and Alix Fenhagen are brilliant and exude so much emotion without speaking, it truly is a credit to their acting chops. The story tells of a reunion of sorts where both parties seems to have different ideas of what they want out of it and these actresses portray those feelings flawlessly.

Paul Diem in The Therapist. Credit: Single Carrot Theatre

Ending the evening in the same garage/workshop The Therapist by Charles Mee, Directed by Genevieve De Mahy and, the ending of One More Time seamlessly slides into this piece. The garage door is raised and the rest of the ensemble from all the other pieces are standing there like Walkers from The Walking Dead and they rush in to envelope the audience with a speech performed enthusiastically by Paul Diem about the state of the arts and about artists in general. His charisma is spot on for this piece, even as he’s stripping down to his unmentionables! The audience is given little flags and other accouterments as Diem leads them out of the garage and down the street as if it is a march for art, ending at Single Carrot Theatre, coming around full circle.

All in all, it was an enjoyable evening and more like a leisurely stroll through Remington with the bonus of catching some theatre while out for a walk. The ensemble knows the materials and, more importantly understands the material and it all makes for a great night of Baltimore theatre.

Final thought… A Short Reunion presented by Single Carrot Theatre is a bold, innovative piece that the traditional theatre-goer might find a bit taxing, but it has a very personable feel and gives one a chance to explore the little corner of Baltimore where Single Carrot calls home – Remington. Roughly a mile walk, keep an eye on the weather and dress accordingly… you know how Maryland can get all bi-polar with its weather! Also, just as a note, if you have any disability that makes it difficult for stairs, unless Single Carrot has made arrangements for any foreseeable situation, there will be an issue in seeing a few of the performances because of stairs. You might want to give them a call ahead of time if you have any questions. Overall, the performance is quite enjoyable (and I got to experience it during a beautiful spring evening) and exudes the charm and quirkiness with which Baltimore drips. The tour is well-designed and thought out so there’s no unnecessary detours and though I may enjoyed certain performances more than others, I enjoyed all of them, as a whole. It’s called A Short Reunion but it’s also a short run so if you want a different kind of theatre-going experience; something new and quirky… and quite enjoyable… get your tickets now!

Short plays included in A Short Reunion:

36 Questions or Emily & Sanders by Adam Szymkowicz

The Ninth Planet by Olivia Dufault

Tense White People Have Dinner by Jen Silverman

Grand Mal by Shawn Reddy

Bruce/Brenda/David by J. Buck Jabaily & Nathan Fulton (with Aldo Pantoja and Meg Jabaily)

Itch So Bad by Joshua Conkel

Live Through This by Caridad Svich

One More Time by Eric Coble

The Therapist by Charles Mee

This is what I thought of Single Carrot Theatre’s production of A Short Reunion… What did you think? Please feel free to leave a comment!

A Short Reunion will play through April 30 at Single Carrot Theatre, 2600 N. Howard Street, Baltimore, MD. For tickets, call the box office at (443) 844-9253 or purchase them online.

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