Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Fire-Bringer

HSU does a staged reading of a new play, The Fire-Bringer, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 PM in the Gist Hall Theatre. Beti Trauth also previews this in Northern Lights.

I emphasize that this is a staged reading, which basically means the cast will carry scripts as they move around the stage. There's also minimal staging, lighting and costumes. This is usually how plays in development are first presented, and though staged readings are rare hereabouts, some of the best theatre I've seen has been in this form. It really emphasizes the script and the interactions of characters. In my past experiences with staged readings, I've often gotten so absorbed in it that I stopped noticing the actors were carrying scripts.

The play is about characters in a small timber town dealing with a forest fire, set in 1942. (Since the Journal's cover story this week was about the fires, you'd think they'd mention this play, but they didn't. I mentioned it in my column, which is all I'm permitted to do, since I do publicity for HSU theatre.)

I'm actually writing this after the first performance, which I understand was SRO. (I was at NCRT; I'll be at Gist on Friday.) There was a lively talk-back in which audience members told their own stories about forest fires, especially from this year. There's another talk-back Friday, and perhaps Saturday.

A sidelight: When Judy GeBauer, playwright of The Fire-Bringer, was in Arcata from Denver last week, she stayed with HSU Theatre, Film & Dance chair Bernadette Cheyne and her husband, scenic designer Ivan Hess. Eventually GeBauer and Hess realized they’d both grown up in Oakland at around the same time, let’s say more than a few years ago. Then that they had gone to the same high school, with the same drama teacher. Then that they were there at the same time. Finally, when Ivan found his high school yearbook, there they were: literally on the same page.

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