Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? heads this year's line-up at MPC's tiny SRO theater.
Thursday, February 11, 1999
Working on a play in the 42-seat SRO theater at Monterey Peninsula College gives actors and directors a certain sense of freedom. Partly it''s because the space is consciously set up as a venue for non-mainstream plays and partly it''s because you take more chances when performing before a small audience. The end result is that an actor ends up working a little differently than, say, on the college''s Main Stage.
That''s how the cast and director of Who''s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? feel. "For me, it''s a matter of size," says Mark Shilstone-Laurent, who portrays George in the Edward Albee play opening tonight, and has plenty of emotionally explosive scenes. "I''m always big, big, big. Here, it''s more ''raise-an-eyebrow'' kind of acting."
Marlie Avant, who plays George''s wife Martha, "loves the intimacy" of small spaces like the SRO and Carmel''s Cherry Center. Rather than feeling the audience''s physical proximity hampers her expressive freedom, she says working in small theaters "has taught me to be more thick-skinned."
The close-in feeling engendered by the SRO''s configuration plays off nicely against Martha''s character, she says. "Martha expresses [emotions], but there''s a lot she doesn''t show," Avant says. "This play is about a distorted human being, an example of what happens when we supress, hold things in, become dysfunctional."
"We''ve tried things we might not try on the Main Stage," says director Jerry Gill. "The marvelous thing in this space is, you put the audience right into [the characters''] living room."
The SRO (for "standing room only") has been used as a performance space since around 1976, says Peter DeBono, chair of MPC''s theater department. The SRO fills several functions. First, as part of a college teaching department, it provides space for students to make the transition from directing individual scenes to full-length plays. Those productions are put on irregularly, de Bono says, depending on student talent. Second, it''s a space where department staff, including himself, and guest directors, like Gill, can put on plays not suited to the Main Stage.
"It''s a place where we can do the kinds of theater that don''t fit in readily with the theater we do for our season ticket-holders," he says. "You won''t get 350 people a night to see Virginia Woolf."
The SRO is also used for original productions, penned and produced by local artists. This coming November, for example, Jose Lambert will return with an evening of readings and vignettes he''s adapted from O. Henry''s New York-based stories. He put on a similar O. Henry show last year, also in the SRO.
Department instructor Ramie Wikdahl will also use the space for an original production of Fractured Fairy Tales in April, using ideas that emerged during ongoing improvisational exercises conducted with a group of actors who worked on a Main Stage show last year.
And Lee Brady''s playwrighting class uses the space in December to mount productions of students'' 10-minute original plays.
The SRO has even spawned a local theater group, Monterey''s Unicorn Theater, which emerged from an original play about William Butler Yeats, Crowd of Stars, put on almost 20 years ago by Carey Crockett and the late Max Robert.
"This space gives people a chance to do experimental and original work," DeBono says. "It''s the kind of theater that normally doesn''t draw big audiences." But, he adds, "sometimes we''re surprised."
That might easily be the case with Virginia Woolf. Not only is the play itself well-known, thanks to the Richard Burton/Elizabeth Taylor movie of the same name, but this SRO production stars Shilstone-Laurent and Avant, both highly respected local actors.
But even if they get full houses every night--a rarity in any theater--the cumulative audience would only equal a night and a half on the Main Stage. Those who come, however, can expect a couple hours of raw, explosive anger and gut wrenching. Says Kent Carlson, who plays "the only fairly normal" character in the four-person show, "it''s not a happy musical." cw
On The Air Friday and Saturday at 8:30pm, Sunday at 8pm. Musical Revue. Angelo DiGirolamo revives this feel-good, song-and-dance trip down nostalgia lane, presented as this year''s major fundraiser for the Wharf Theater. It''s a true musical revue, featuring the great old songs of Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hammerstein, George and Ira Gershwin, and their like. The show is billed as a way to relive the grand old days of radio (if you''re old enough to remember them) or to introduce that genre to your youngsters and grand-youngsters. All ages, of course, are welcome. Directed by Gina Welch-Hagen. Wharf Theater, Fishermans Wharf, Monterey. 649-2332/372-1373. $15/general; $8/children; Through: 3/28.
Who''s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Thursday at 7pm, Saturday and Sunday at 8pm, Sunday at 2pm. Drama. Edward Albee''s powerful, wrenching drama depicts one evening in the life of George, a domineering college professor, and his bitchy, blowsy wife Martha. The couple engage in a drunken, no-holds-barred emotional fight to the death over cocktails, with a hapless young couple as unwilling audience. Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor steamed up the screen in Mike Nichols'' 1966 film version. Mark Shilstone-Laurent and Marlie Avant star here--expect sparks to fly. Directed by Jerry Gill. SRO Theater at Monterey Peninsula College, 980 Fremont Street, Monterey. 646-4213. $5/general; Through: 2/28.
Taking Care Friday and Saturday at 8pm, Sunday at 2:30pm. Comedic Drama. Philip Pearce''s original script examines the generation caught between aging parents and rambunctious children, and explores the difficulties of learning to care for a parent you once looked up to as incredibly gifted. A talented older woman, quickly losing her sight and hearing, meets with her sons on the porch of the family home--they''ve come together to make some tough decisions. Baby boomers and their parents alike are likely to relate to this humorous take on a serious matter that will touch all our lives. Indoor Forest Theater, Mountain View and Santa Rita Streets, Carmel. 624-1531. $12/general; $9/children; $9/seniors. Through: 2/14.
The Lion in Winter Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8pm. Drama. Peter O''Toole and Katherine Hepburn locked horns with majestic wit and fury in the Hollywood version of The Lion in Winter, the dramatized tale of a Christmas meeting between the kings of England and France in the year 1183. In this Unicorn Theatre production, Robert Colter, last seen as Scrooge in the Unicorn production of A Christmas Carol, plays Henry II, while Susan Keenan steps in as his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine and Paul Scofield appears as France''s King Philip. The play is a witty, lightly humorous look at the lives, loves and jealousies of Royals past--does anything really change? The Hoffman Playhouse, 320 Hoffman Ave., Monterey. 649-0259. $15/general; $12/children; $12/seniors. Through: 2/13.
A Cup of Tea Friday and Saturday at 8pm. Melodrama. The Troupers of the Gold Coast present A Cup of Tea, a 19th-century farce about an erstwhile poet who composes sonnets to his lady-love. His heartfelt odes, unfortunately, fall into the hands of his intended''s husband, with predictably tragi-comic results. This is the Troupers'' 541st production since 1937 in the historic First Theater, one of Monterey''s most treasured 19th-century buildings. All shows are suitable for the entire family, and are followed by an olio revue. California''s First Theater, Scott and Pacific streets, Monterey. 375-4916. $10/general; $5/children; $8/seniors. Through: 3/27.
Winnie-the-Pooh in...More Adventures in the Hundred Acre Woods Saturday at 2pm and 4pm, Sunday at 1pm and 3pm. Unicorn Theatre''s Family Fantasy Theatre brings back its annual Pooh offering, with a collection of delightful stories from A.A. Milne''s much-beloved bear. This year, the troupe has added three new tales: ''How Eeyore Lost his Tail,'' ''Piglet and the Heffalumps,'' and ''Why Tiggers Can''t Climb Trees.'' Rob Foster plays the irrepressible bear, with Max Spiegal as Piglet, Kimberly Scott as Tigger, Katy Crockett as Christopher Robin and a host of other actors. This show reguarly sells out; they''re adding more performances than last year, but be sure to make reservations. Hoffman Playhouse, 320 Hoffman St., Monterey. 649-0259. $5/general; Through: 2/28.
Custom House Plaza "Whale of an Art Show." Special Event. Carmel Art Guild presents two-day exhibit of arts and crafts offered by Monterey Bay artists and artisans. From 10am to 5pm, Saturday and Sunday. At the mouth of Fishermans Wharf, Monterey. 625-0931. Reception: 2/13. Through: 2/14.
New Masters "Sculpture Luberti Gala Benefit." Benefit Party. Sculptures by Maria Luisa Berti are exhibited and sold during this benefit for the Pacific Grove Youth Center. This is the first time the "Sculpture Luberti" exhibit has been shown in the U.S.; funds raised during sales at the gala will be matched by Lee and Tibor Rudas. Dolores Street, between Ocean and 7th avenues, Carmel. 625-1511. Reception: 2/16, 4pm. Through: 2/16.
Santa Catalina School "The World of Lady M." Opening Reception. Paintings by Karen Nagano inspired by Japanese court culture and literature. 1500 Mark Thomas Dr., Monterey. 655-9350. Reception: 2/12, 5:30pm. Through: 4/18.
Zantman Art Galleries Opening Reception. Paintings by Suzanne Etienne. 6th Street and Mission Avenue, Carmel. 624-8314. Reception: 2/13, 4pm. Through: 3/12.
Ansel Adams Gallery "Backwater: Central Valley Dreamscapes." Exhibit. Photographs of California''s Central Valley by Roman Loranc. The Inn at Spanish Bay, 2700 17-Mile Drive, Pebble Beach. 375-7215. Through: 3/15.
Back Porch Fabrics and Gallery "These Are a Few of Our Favorite Quilts." Exhibit. Quilts and garments made by the staff of Back Porch Fabrics. 157 Grand Ave., Pacific Grove. 375-4453. Through: 3/12.
Carl Cherry Center "The Green Whale of Winter." Exhibit. The "works of 25 artists of differing styles, techniques and themes investigating whaling themes in literature." Guadalupe Street and 4th Avenue, Carmel. 624-7491. Through: 2/19.
Carmel Art Association "Hearts and Flowers." Exhibit. Works by CAA members in commemoration of Valentine''s Day. Also an exhibit of new abstract works. Dolores Street between 5th and 6th avenues, Carmel. 624-6176. Through: 3/3.
Carmel Valley Manor Exhibit. Color photographs of flowers and landscapes by Stuart Mitchell and Irving Stuart. 8545 Carmel Valley Rd., Carmel Valley. 626-4806. Through: 2/28.
Center for Photographic Art "10 Years." Exhibit. Works by 33 photographers selected to celebrate the Center''s 10th anniversary. In the Sunset Center, San Carlos Street and 8th Avenue, Carmel. 625-5181. Through: 3/9.
Galer¡a Tonantzin "Self Portraits." Exhibit. Paintings by South Bay and Monterey Bay Women''s Caucus for Art. 115 3rd St., San Juan Bautista. 623-ARTE. Through: 2/28.
Gray''s Art Gallery "Celebrating Black History." Exhibit. Group show in various media. 1104 Broadway Ave., Suite K, Seaside. 899-1069. Reception: 2/20, 4pm. Through: 2/27.
Highlands Inn "Visual Inn." Exhibit. Photographs of renowned American chefs by Italian photographer, writer and businessman Francesco Illy. Highway 1, Carmel. 624-3801. Through: 3/8.
Marjorie Evans Gallery "Artist Equity Group Exhibit." Exhibit. Works by 20 local members of Artists Equity. Sunset Center, San Carlos Street and 8th Avenue, Carmel. 591-2787. Through: 2/26.
Monterey College of Law Exhibit. Handmade papers, monotypes and etchings by Paula Walzer. 404 W. Franklin St., Monterey. 373-3301.
Monterey Museum of Art: Civic Center
Exhibit. Gerald Wasserman''s "Caff Scenes;" Works on paper from the Frost/Hanna Collection. CS Price: "Landscape, Image and Spirit." 559 Pacific St., Monterey. 372-5477. Through: 4/18.
Monterey Museum of Art--La Mirada "Face to Face: The Paintings of Mabel Alvarez." Exhibit. 720 Via Mirada, Monterey. 372-3689, 372-5477. Through: 3/7.
Monterey Peninsula Airport "Altered States: Transforming the Spirit of Castoff Materials." Exhibit. Works by local artists who have created unusual works from everyday objects. Also, "Angels of Tradition," Santa Catalina Lower School students present their version of Monterey''s Christmas angels. 200 Fred Kane Dr., Monterey. 624-7910. Through: 3/31.
National Steinbeck Center "Cross-eyed: Two Siblings/Distinct Memories." Exhibit. Art works and writing by John and Leah Harper that "relate humorous and touching stories about their memories growing up in a large family." One Main St., Salinas. 796-3833.
Pacific Grove Art Center "Weston: A Family''s Legacy." Exhibit. For the first time ever, photographs by the entire Weston clan--Edward, his sons Chandler, Brett, Neil and Cole, and Cole''s son, Kim, and his wife, Paulette--are exhibited in one show. This is a historic show, highly recommended. 568 Lighthouse Ave., Pacific Grove. 375-2208. Through: 2/19.
Pajaro Valley Gallery "Black & White and Everything in Between." Exhibit. Works by Lynda Watson and Jane Gregorius. 37 Sudden St., Watsonville. 722-3062. Through: 3/20.
Sally Griffin Senior Center "If Walls Could Tell." Exhibit. Paintings by David R. Rojas focusing on farms, barns and other rural icons that "evoke a rural, pastoral time long since past." 700 Jewell Ave., Pacific Grove. 899-9141. Through: 2/28.
Searle Art Supply Exhibit. Watercolors by Jan Valtr. 639 Lighthouse Ave., Monterey. 373-0126. Through: 3/3.
Seaside City Hall Exhibit. Group show with works in several media celebrating Black History Month. Artists include Jimi Claybrooks, Carol Bowie, Vern Bowie, Barrington McCloud, Sandra Gray and Antar Jannah. 440 Harcourt Ave., Seaside. 899-6270. Reception: 2/21, 3pm. Through: 2/26.
A Taste of Monterey "Whales of Randy Puckett." Exhibit. Bronze sculptures of dolphins and whales by Randy Puckett; sales benefit the Friends of the Sea Otter. 700 Cannery Row, Monterey. 373-2747. Through: 2/14.
Thunderbird Bookshop Caf "Explorations." Exhibit. Recent works in acrylic by Beverly Borgman. At the Barnyard Shopping Center, off Highway 1 and Carmel Valley Road, Carmel. 624-1803. Through: 3/7.
A Woman''s Wellspring Exhibit. Black-and-white photography of the female nude by Jenny Ruley. 575 Calle Principal, Monterey. 649-2320. Through: 3/30.
Zantman Art Galleries Exhibit. Oil paintings by Italo G. Botti. 6th Avenue and Mission Street, Carmel. 624-8314. Through: 2/12.