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iBerkshires.com Columnist Section

Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

A Weekend of "Hell, Hitmen and Hospitality"

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Wednesday, March 08, 2006

North Adams- Spend the weekend finding "hospitality" in the midst of a room-sized "hell" and a pair of "hitmen" temporarily lurking within a church.

A Mill City Productions community theater troupe presentation of "Hell, Hitmen, and Hospitality" are scheduled for two evening performances and one matinee at the St. John's Episcopal Church parish hall [second floor] at 59 Summer St.. The performance times are March 17, 7:30 p.m., March 18, 7:30 p.m., and March 19, 2 p.m.. Adult tickets are $5 each, students and senior citizen tickets are available at $3 each.

"Hospitality"

Troupe member Marissa Carlson is the director of "The Bald Soprano," written by Eugene Ionesco during 1948.

The play was written at a time when Ionesco was disenchanted by the theater. His purpose was to illustrate how "human discourse" trivialized language and turned it into meaningless utterances, friends found the play engaging and funny, and encouraged Ionesco to find a theater to stage the play.

The work was first produced in French at the Theater des Noctambules in Paris during 1950. Titled "La Cantatrice chauve" and directed by Nicolas Bataille. The premiere performance was not widely lauded; accolades came only from dramatist Armand Salacrou and theater critic Jacques Lemarchand.

For whatever reason, after the play was staged, Ionesco claimed to "suddenly" discover that it was his "destiny" to write for the theater, and he penned several works termed "ant-plays." "La Cantatrice chauve" was subsequently translated into several languages and when it was presented in the United States as "The Bald Soprano" in 1960, the play was being hailed as a modern classic.

The Mill City production cast actor Tim Vecchiarelli as "Mr. Smith," Brooke Mead as "Mrs.Smith," Josh Bishoff as "Mr. Martin," Phee Mayer as "Mrs. Martin," Phoebe Hazzard as "Mary, the maid," and Joshua Sprague [a lead actor in the November production of HONK! The Musical ] as "The Fire Chief."

The play focuses on the Smiths of London as they welcome their visitors, the Martins. A fire brigade captain drops by and recognizes the maid, Mary, as an old friend. The play pinpoints perceived absurdities of modern life and "culminates into the degradation of language and communication into total nonsense," according to a synopsis provided by Mill City Productions.

"Hitmen"

Acclaimed contemporary British playwright Harold Pinter penned "The Dumb Waiter."

The play surrounds "Gus" and "ben," two assassins who hide in wait within a basement hotel room in anticipation of carrying out an "assignment." "Ben" is the older, more experienced of the pair, while "Gus" shows his discomfiture and unease at his chosen profession. The ending is meant to hold an element of surprise...but for whom, the audience, "Gus," or "Ben?"

"Ben" will be acted by Edward Cating and Joshua Sprague is cast as "Gus." Liz Urban is the play's director.

"Hell"...Is A Hotel Room?

Tim Mangun will direct the play "No Exit" by Jean-Paul Sartre.

An initial draft of the play was penned in about two weeks at the Cafe Flore in Paris, and the play is considered by many theater aficionados to be Sartre's best work. The play was written during a World War II Nazi occupation of France and was deliberately penned as a one-act play so that audience members would not be kept out beyond a Nazi-imposed curfew.

The play was translated into English and opened on Broadway in 1947.

The play depicts "hell" as a massive hotel with no windows and one door. "Garcin" is the first to be shown to the room by a bellhop; he is soon joined by "Inez" and "Estelle." The torments of "hell" become obvious as the trio are left alone with only their sins and themselves.

Lauren Forbes is cast as the "Valet," "Jackie DeGiorgis portrays "Inez," Liz Urban acts in the role of "Estelle," and "Garcin" is played by Edward Cating.

Additional information about "Hell, Hitmen" and Hospitality" or Mill City Productions is available at a www.millcityproductions.org Internet web site.

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at suebush@iberkshires.com or at 802-823-9367.
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