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The Plays the Thing

 Chapatti Featured at Peninsula Players’ Reading

at Björklunden 7p.m. Monday, March 2, 2015

Fish Creek, WI.  –  Peninsula Players Theatre will present a reading of “Chapatti,” a new play by Irish playwright Christian O’Reilly at Björklunden, 7p.m., Monday, March 2.   Unexpected sparks fly when Betty, the caregiver to 19 cats, meets Dan and his dog Chapatti in a Dublin vet office.   This funny, gentle and poignant story centers around two lonely animal lovers who rediscover the need for human companionship.   Join the Players reading – free admission and general seating available.

“I like to put two people in a room or on a bench and get them talking,” said O’Reilly in an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times.  “I’m interested in seeing two characters spark off each other and struggle for control.  I’m curious to see what conflict may reveal about them.  My intention with ‘Chapatti’ was to show two people who seldom have the opportunity to communicate with others in a deep and intimate way, but who gradually discover a way to do this.”

Pets such as dogs and cats provide companionship to lonely, secluded caregivers, but there is no real substitute for actual human connections.  Dan, a former laborer, has trouble getting over the death of the woman he loved for 30 years.   Homemaker Betty is a divorcee, neither have wandered far from home and both are getting on in years.   Will romance bloom when Dan, who named his dog Chapatti after Indian flatbread, meets good-natured Betty, who collects cats to save them?  Perhaps they will save each other.

O’Reilly started writing the story as a movie script, then a radio play, but found the format of a monologue suited the tale about older people best.

“It’s a play about two lonely people, and the monologue seems to me like a lonesome sort of form — one person, on their own, telling their story,” O’Reilly said.

“Chapatti” made its world premiere at Northlight Theater in Skokie, Illinois, in March of 2014 featuring John Mahoney, of television’s “Fraiser” and Penny Slusher.  The journey for the play began when Mahoney was performing in Galway, Ireland and O’Reilly slipped the script under his dressing room door.   Mahoney said he initially had no intention of reading it, but while on a long trans-Atlantic flight he had nothing else to read.

O’Reilly’s other works include the plays “The Good Father” and “The Tiger in Winter,” which was produced by Druid Theatre company for the 25th Galway Arts Festival in 2002.  His credits also include two short films “The Birthday” and “The Kiss of Life;” a radio play, “The Play;” and a feature film “Inside I’m Dancing,” which won the Audience Award for Best Film at the Edinburgh Film Festival in 2004, two Irish Film and Television Awards, and the AIB People’s Choice Award for Best Irish Film.

Slusher and Players Artistic Director Greg Vinkler will play Betty and Dan under the direction of Players company member Tom Mula.   Mula directed last season’s world premiere of “The Tin Woman” as well as “Amadeus,” “Making God Laugh” and many more.  He has also performed in numerous Players productions including “Chicago,” “And Then There Were None,” “Opus” and “Heroes.”

Slusher’s Chicago credits include “A Life,” opposite Mahoney, and “Sense and Sensibility” at Northlight; “Bus Stop” and “The Subject was Roses” at Writers Theatre; “Sweet Bird of Youth” at the Goodman and “August: Osage County” with Steppenwolf Theatre Company at Sydney Theatre, Australia.

Vinkler has directed and performed in previous play readings last winter as well as in numerous Players productions including “Butler,” “Amadeus,” “Art,” “A Man for All Seasons” and “Opus.”  He recently directed Shattered Globe Theatre’s highly-praised production of Tennessee Williams’ “The Rose Tattoo” at Chicago’s Theater Wit.

“’Chapatti’ speaks to everyone, but especially to the heartache and seclusion often felt by older men and women.  Smiles, laughter and a few tears may be shed, but audiences will never forget the beauty and poignance of this tender story.”  Chicago Theater Review.

“Compassionate new piece” – Chicago Tribune

“Hopeful and uplifting… tender human connections” – Chicagocritic.com

“Leaves you cheering” – Chicago Sun Times

“Chapatti,” is the second of three readings of The Play’s the Thing, a winter series of play readings produced by Peninsula Players Theatre.  Phone the Peninsula Players at 920-868-3287 for information on the reading of “Chapatti,” at Björklunden 7p.m., Monday, March, 2.   Admission is free, general seating available.

The Play’s the Thing is funded in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin, as well as generous grants from Door County Community Foundation, Ministry Door County Medical Center and Door County Library Foundation.

Peninsula Players will host its final 2015 winter play reading Monday, April 6 featuring two yet-to-be-published one-acts, “I Shall Love you Forever” by Kathleen Thompson and “Waiting for Tina Meyer” by Kristine Thatcher and Larry Shue.

Peninsula Players Theatre is America’s Oldest Professional Resident Summer Theatre. The Play’s the Thing is part of the Players’ continuing winter outreach programming, presenting professional play readings for the public and for students receiving play writing instruction. Learn more about Peninsula Players at www.peninsulaplayers.com.

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Peninsula Players is America’s oldest professional resident summer theater and is unique in the country for its diverse productions, continuing loyalty to a resident company, and its beautiful setting of 16 wooded acres along the cedar-lined shores of Green Bay.  In the past 80 years, the theater has become a Door County landmark and its cornerstone arts institution, attracting audience members from throughout Wisconsin and across the country.