Several months ago, the newly formed Pocono Mountains Theater Company introduced itself to the Monroe County, PA area. A great deal of excitement emanated from the local theatrical community as it's always a good thing to learn new perspectives and receive new opportunities to explore the arts. The joy felt when the company arrived in the area was accentuated on Monday March 21st as The Pocono Mountains Theater Company presented the first of three public readings to celebrate their Inaugural 2016 Season.
An air of anticipation filled the Smith McFarland Theater which is located within the Fine Arts Building on the Campus of East Stroudsburg University of PA as the modestly sized audience took their seats and excitedly chattered about the experience yet to come. This experience would be the public reading of the play titled, “Krapp, 39” written by Michael Laurence www.brianlongartistmgmt.com and performed by Chris Stack. It was during these conversations did the company's Artistic Director, Brian Long, stepped on stage to welcome the audience and introduced the play. He then made his exit and a darkness descended signaling the reading was about to begin.
Within the time frame of a few moments, Mr. Stack filled the theater with an energy that was felt by every person who was present. Something new was being added to the lexicon of theatre goers as each word was spoken and new understandings of the human condition were revealed during the stellar performance. Mr. Laurence's mastery of the written form was evident throughout the work as a distinctive rhythm was heard throughout the play that effected the flow of the monologue while deftly avoiding the sense that the words were “written.”
“Krapp, 39” is about a 39 year old actor who is inspired by Samuel Beckett’s play titled, “Krapp’s Last Tape.” He endeavors to write a sequel to the work but is denied permission to do so from the Beckett Estate. This sets him off to mimic the main character in Beckett’s play which includes recording his thoughts on his own life so far while keeping a half eaten banana in his pocket.
The play is not only an homage to Samuel Beckett and his profound contributions to theater but to the theatrical arts themselves. A monitor upon the stage was used effectively in exploring the parallels between the Krapp, 39 character and Beckett's life. This gave the piece a layered cinematic quality that enabled the audience to submerge themselves deeper into its universal essence. It also revealed many of the intricacies found in theatre through the actor's monologue and voice messages heard throughout the presentation.
The conclusion of the play was momentarily met with a thoughtful silence as the audience took some time to digest the power of the piece. But, when they had finished doing so, an applause rang out that reflected their appreciation of being changed. This is what theatre is all about.
After the presentation, a number of individuals associated with The Pocono Mountains Theater Company along with their supporters held a meet and greet at the neighboring Strunky's Pub in East Stroudsburg, PA. www.facebook.com/strunkyspub The conversations that ensued were reflected by the participants' mutual love for theater, the admiration for the company, it's goals, and the quality of the production they experienced earlier that evening, and the flow of the libations that were delightfully consumed. It was a great way to bring a wonderful evening at the theater to an end.
The Pocono Mountains Theater Company's public reading of “Krapp, 39” was written by Michael Laurence www.michaellaurence.net and performed by Chris Stack www.chrisstack.com. It was stage managed by Robert McIntyre with Sarah T. Schwab serving as its Production Assistant. “Krapp, 39” was the first of three public readings of the company's Inaugural 2016 Season and was presented on Monday March 21st at the Smith McFarland Theater on the Campus of East Stroudsburg University. The play won Outstanding Show at the New York International Fringe Festival. www.fringenyc.org
The second reading in their series took place on Saturday March 25th at the Smith McFarland Theater for the work titled, “The Hate Inside, or Second Fiddle” written by Maggie Bofill www.maggiebofill.com and directed by Shira-Lee Shalit. It was performed by Florencia Lozano, Matthew Saldivar, and Dawn McGee with musical interludes performed by Michael Panes. The third reading will take place on Saturday April 30th beginning at 7pm at the Smith McFarland Theater and is titled, “Until Death” by Sarah T. Schwab www.sarahtschwab.com featuring performances by Karen Allen (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Animal House, and Starman) along with members of its additional cast which will be announced soon. The admission the reading is free.
According to their Website, The Pocono Mountains Theater Company seeks “to produce and develop diverse new works by American artists, both local and national; to cultivate and develop audiences to support the future patronage of American theater; and to provide a positive collaborative impact to the community, both culturally and financially.” They also seek to provide residencies for local theater producers and artists while maintaining “a diverse new works and artist development platform for national and local artists.” You can learn more about The Pocono Mountains Theater Company, about what they offer to the community, and view images and video clips of their endeavors by exploring their Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/PoconoMountainsTheaterCompany/?fref=ts or their Website at www.poconomountainstheatercompany.org.
Photograph provided by The Pocono Mountains Theater Company.