The Plays the Thing


 

Two One-Act Plays Featured at Peninsula Players’ Reading

at Björklunden 7p.m. Monday, April 6

Fish Creek, WI.  –  Peninsula Players Theatre will present a reading of two one-act plays, “I Shall Love You Forever” by Kathleen Thompson and “Waiting for Tina Meyer” by Kristine Thatcher and Larry Shue at Björklunden (7590 Boynton Lane, Baileys Harbor) at 7p.m., Monday, April 6.   Both comedies take a light-hearted look into the twists, turns and varying degrees of romance.   Join the Players reading – free admission and general seating available.

“I Shall Love You Forever” features Malcolm and Ruth, a young couple very much in love.  When one has a near-death experience the other offers an extremely fascinating idea for their long-term commitment.   Thompson also wrote last winter’s piece “A Two Story House.”

“Two guys walk into a bar” are the opening stage directions in “Waiting for Tina Meyer” by Kristine Thatcher and Larry Shue.   It is New Year’s Eve and actors Bob and Walter are on tour with a musical version of “King Richard the Third.” Bob, a widower, receives a note backstage from college student Tina Meyer, inviting him for a drink.   Bob, nervous about dating again, asks leading man Walter along to be his wingman and to help Bob overcome the jitters.   As they wait for Tina’s arrival, the two men strike up a conversation with the sole patron, the bar keep and the piano man.  Their chance meeting alters their view on more than just romance.

Both one-act comedies were crafted more than 20 years ago, yet the underlying themes of love and romance are timeless and connect the two one-acts.    Peninsula Players Artistic Director Greg Vinkler will direct both readings and read stage directions.

“I’ve known these plays for a very long time and have always been delighted by them” says  Vinkler. “They’ve never been published and I am so pleased to bring them at least to a little light in the world.  Love is a subject that never goes out of fashion.”

“I Shall Love You Forever” was written for the Commons Theatre, which Thompson co-founded in 1980 in Chicago. While with the Commons, Thompson had eight plays produced by the theater, including “Two Story House” and “Dashiell Hamlet” which she co-wrote with Mike Nussbaum, Paul H. Thompson and Mike Nowak.  She also taught playwriting with Nowak at Chicago Dramatists Workshop for ten years and her works have been produced in various theaters in New York and Chicago.

Thatcher and Shue met while cast opposite each other in Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s production of “Merton of the Movies.”  Shue was embarking on a playwriting career and Thatcher played numerous roles in workshops of his plays.  She originated the role of Tansy in Shue’s “The Nerd.”

Apparently Thatcher thought she could always improve on what Larry had written, and was full of suggestions.  “One day Larry finally said to me, ‘Put your money where your damn mouth is,’” Thatcher said.   The result was Thatcher’s first play, “Niedecker,” about Wisconsin poetess Lorine Niedecker, which was featured in the Players’ 2012 winter play reading series.

Shue and Thatcher began to collaborate on a script for the television series “One Day at a Time.” The day after they submitted the script they learned the series was to be cancelled.  Rather than dismissing all of their work, they adapted a character into the plot of “Waiting for Tina Meyer.”  Not long after, Shue was killed in a plane crash and Thatcher set the script aside.  She hadn’t done anything with it until Vinkler contacted her about the idea of doing it as part of “The Play’s the Thing.”

“It’s not exactly the same as uncovering a lost Shakespeare play” says Vinkler, “but to introduce an unknown Shue play – well, that’s pretty close!”

Veteran Peninsula Players company members will perform in both readings.   The cast of “Waiting for Tina Meyer” includes Chicago-based actors Erica Elam (“The Tin Woman,” “Panic,” “Born Yesterday”); Kevin McKillip (“Is He Dead?,” “Wait Until Dark”);  Joe Foust,  (“Miracle on South Division Street,” “The Elephant Man”) and Barbara Simpson Fuhrmann (“Other People’s Money” and “Tons of Money”).  Also cast are Door County residents Mark Moede (“And Then There Were None”).   All have participated in past winter play readings.

Foust is cast as Bob, who is learning to date again, and McKillip as his wing-man, Walter, in “Waiting for Tina Meyer.”  Elam portrays the romantically gun-shy bartender, Robin; Moede the world-wise piano man, Carl; and Fuhrmann is cast as a philosophical regular.    Elam and McKillip are cast as the lovers, Ruth and Malcolm in “I Shall Love You Forever.”  Vinkler will direct and read stage directions for both plays.

Foust and McKillip performed recently in “Laughter on the 23rd Floor” with Chicago’s First Folio Theatre and have worked together at the Players in productions of “God of Carnage,” “Around the World in 80 Days” and “Sherlock Holmes:  The Final Adventure.”  Elam was last at the Players in Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None” and reading of “Go Back for Murder” and has toured and performed around the world with Second City.

Moede is active in the Door County theater community and performed with Fuhrmann in last winter’s reading of Horton Foote’s “The Trip to Bountiful.”   Moede has performed with American Folklore Theatre, Door Shakespeare, Isadoora Theatre Company, Third Avenue Playhouse and Theatre M.

Fuhrmann spent several seasons in the Players acting company and now serves on its board of directors.  She originated the role of Eva Ranney in Kristine Thatcher’s Door County history play, “Apparitions,” and appeared in the immensely popular “You Can’t Take it With You.”  She played Lorine Niedecker at Milwaukee Rep as well as in the Players reading of another of Thatcher’s plays, “Niedecker.”

“I Shall Love You Forever” and “Waiting for Tina Meyer” are the final play 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.

“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 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 the Peninsula Players 2015 season at www.peninsulaplayers.com.