• 'Two Degrees': Opening night photos

    by John Moore | Feb 11, 2017
    'Two Degrees' in Denver

    Above: Photos from opening night of Tira Palmquist's world-premiere play 'Two Degrees' by the DCPA Theatre Company. Director Christy Montour-Larson is on the right. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Video bonus: How do they make that ice, ice baby?

    Scenic Designer Robert Mark Morgan takes you backstage for a look at how he created the ever-changing world of Two Degrees for the DCPA Theatre Company. The set includes 56 Plexiglass panels that are treated to look like ice - but six of them actually are made of ice and melt throughout the show. Video by David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Ticket information: Two Degrees
    Two DegreesEmma, a climate change scientist, is invited to share her findings at a Senate hearing that could define her career and her cause. But if she can’t overcome her tumultuous inner struggle, her dedication and sacrifices may not be enough. Two Degrees was developed at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit.
    • Through March 12
    • Jones Theatre
    • ASL and Audio-Described matinee at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, March 5
    • 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Two Degrees:
    Video: How do they make that ice, ice, baby?
    Photos, video: Your first look at Two Degrees
    Two Degrees: A telling exchange at public forum
    Tira Palmquist on Two Degrees: Grief for a husband, and a planet
    Two Degrees
    cast digs deep into Boulder ice-core research
    Meet the cast: Kim Staunton
    Two Degrees
    heats up conversation on global warming
    Two Degrees: Five things we learned at first rehearsal
    Colorado New Play Summit Spotlight: Tira Palmquist, Two Degrees
    Video: Look back at 2016 Colorado New Play Summit
    2016-17 season: Nine shows, two world premieres, return to classics

     

  • 'Two Degrees': How do they make that ice, ice, baby?

    by John Moore | Feb 10, 2017


    Scenic Designer Robert Mark Morgan takes you backstage for a look at how he created the ever-changing world of Two Degrees for the DCPA Theatre Company.

    Tira Palmquist's world-premiere play introduces us to a scientist named Emma who is called to Washington to testify – reluctantly – before a congressional committee on proposed climate legislation.

    Two DegreesCompounding her anxiety: It’s the one-year anniversary of her husband’s death. It’s meant to be a human story about both a woman and a planet in crisis.

    The play takes place in 11 scenes in 10 locations in the Jones Theatre. "We tried to create an abstract space that was evocative and had an arc like Emma's character that went from frozen to somewhat melting,' Morgan said. The set includes 56 Plexiglass panels that are treated to look like ice - and six of them are actual ice that will melt throughout the show.

    How did he do it? Watch and learn. Two Degrees, directed by Christy Montour-Larson, features Kathleen McCall, Robert Montano, Kim Staunton and Jason Delane Lee, and plays through March 12. 

    Video by David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Ticket information: Two Degrees
    Two DegreesEmma, a climate change scientist, is invited to share her findings at a Senate hearing that could define her career and her cause. But if she can’t overcome her tumultuous inner struggle, her dedication and sacrifices may not be enough. Two Degrees was developed at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit.
    • Through March 12
    • Jones Theatre
    • ASL and Audio-Described matinee at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, March 5
    • 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Two Degrees:
    Photos, video: Your first look at Two Degrees
    Two Degrees: A telling exchange at public forum
    Tira Palmquist on Two Degrees: Grief for a husband, and a planet
    Two Degrees
    cast digs deep into Boulder ice-core research
    Meet the cast: Kim Staunton
    Two Degrees
    heats up conversation on global warming
    Two Degrees: Five things we learned at first rehearsal
    Colorado New Play Summit Spotlight: Tira Palmquist, Two Degrees
    Video: Look back at 2016 Colorado New Play Summit
    2016-17 season: Nine shows, two world premieres, return to classics

     

  • Video, photos: Your first look at 'Two Degrees'

    by John Moore | Feb 08, 2017
    Video: Your first look at Two Degrees

    The DCPA Theatre Company’s world-premiere play Two Degrees introduces us to a scientist named Emma who is called to Washington to testify – reluctantly – before a congressional committee on proposed climate legislation. Compounding her anxiety: It’s the one-year anniversary of her husband’s death. It’s meant to be a human story about both a woman and a planet in crisis. 

    "What we did in the past affects our present and will change our future,” Emma tells those in Washington. But is anyone listening?

    Two Degrees
    is written by Tira Palmquist, directed by Christy Montour-Larson and features Kathleen McCall, Robert Montano, Kim Staunton and Jason Delane Lee. It plays through March 12 in the Jones Theatre. Video by David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Photo gallery: Two Degrees production images

    Two Degrees- 2016-17 Theatre Company Season Photos from 'Two Degrees' by Adams VisCom. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above.

    Ticket information: Two Degrees

    Two DegreesEmma, a climate change scientist, is invited to share her findings at a Senate hearing that could define her career and her cause. But if she can’t overcome her tumultuous inner struggle, her dedication and sacrifices may not be enough. Two Degrees was developed at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit.

    Through March 12
    Jones Theatre
    ASL and Audio-Described matinee at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, March 5
    303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Two Degrees:
    Photos, video: Your first look at Two Degrees
    Two Degrees: A telling exchange at public forum
    Tira Palmquist on Two Degrees: Grief for a husband, and a planet
    Two Degrees
    cast digs deep into Boulder ice-core research
    Two Degrees
    heats up conversation on global warming
    Two Degrees: Five things we learned at first rehearsal
    Colorado New Play Summit Spotlight: Tira Palmquist, Two Degrees
    Video: Look back at 2016 Colorado New Play Summit
    2016-17 season: Nine shows, two world premieres, return to classics

    Two Degrees Jones Theatre'Two Degrees' is the first mainstage Theatre Company offering to be presented in The Jones Theatre since 2004. It is located on the corner of Speer Boulevard and Arapahoe streets. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.
  • 'Two Degrees' cast digs deep into Boulder ice-core research

    by John Moore | Feb 03, 2017
    'Two Degrees' in Denver

    Photos from the 'Two Degrees' field trip to the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research at CU-Boulder (INSTAAR) and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder. All photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above.

    The actors' visit to Boulder brought them face-to-face with the scientists - and the science - in their world-premiere play.

    By John Moore
    For the DCPA NewsCenter
     
    The cast and creative team from the DCPA Theatre Company’s upcoming world premiere play Two Degrees took a recent field trip to Boulder and learned about a whole lot more than climate change.

    Fun stuff like: Polar bears in the Arctic can smell you from 100 miles away. That the oldest discovered ice on Earth is more than 800,000 years old. And that disgraced cycling champion Lance Armstrong was busted by the same science used in ice cores.

    Two Degrees Field Trip. John MooreSeriously.

    The stripped Tour de France winner was caught blood-doping, and what nailed him was isotopes, said scientist Bruce Vaughn, who should know.  He’s got the most distinct business card from Boulder to Greenland: Stable Isotope Lab Manager at the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research at CU-Boulder. Or INSTAAR, for short.

    “The steroids they were using were synthetic, so they have a different carbon isotopic signature than the ones your body would produce,” said Vaughn, who could give Bill Nye a run for his isotopes when it comes to his enthusiasm for science.

    Isotopes, it turns out, are forensic smoking guns. They are unique atomic differences in water molecules that record past climate changes over hundreds of thousands of years in ice cores. It was a tool first conceived by the father of ice-core science, Willi Dansgaard. In the atmosphere, isotopes can act like a red dye tracer, revealing the sources of and sinks of greenhouse gases.

    “There is no problem so big it can't be solved with isotopes," said Vaughn, only half joking. He is convinced that ice buried 2 miles under the surface of the earth is telling us that we are on a path to ecological catastrophe.

    (Photo above and right: Director Christy Montour-Larson and cast feign being locked in a locker where 1,000-year-old ice is kept at minus-10 degrees. A photo of the cast touching the ice is shown below. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    The cast’s Boulder tour covered INSTAAR and the National Center for Atmospheric Research, or NCAR. They got a crash course in climate history, ice-core research and what that means for our changing atmosphere. “You may hate me by the end of the day," Vaughn joked. Instead, there were hugs all around. When Vaughn let his visitors touch a 1,000-year old ice-core sample, they immediately melted into awestruck 8-year-olds.

    Two Degrees Field Trip “To have the opportunity to touch something that is 1,000 years old is just extraordinary,” said actor Kathleen McCall.

    Vaughn says these precious samples prove the rise in global temperature since the Industrial Age is linked to the rise in manmade greenhouse gasses. “They are in lock-step,” he said. “No one can argue that.”

    Two Degrees, written by Tira Palmquist and directed by Christy Montour-Larson, introduces us to a paleoclimatologist named Emma who is called to Washington to reluctantly testify before a congressional committee on proposed climate legislation. At NCAR in Boulder, the cast was introduced to Marika Holland, a very Emma-like paleoclimatologist who is just as unenthusiastic when called upon to testify before politicians about her area of expertise.

    “That kind of thing makes me nervous, to be perfectly honest,” Holland said, “because it’s very confrontational – and I am not a terribly confrontational person.”

    Two Degrees Field Trip QuoteHolland has a PhD in ice-core research and has spent 25 years studying how and why the climate is changing so rapidly, and what that means for the Earth’s future.

    Holland and dozens of global collaborators have been charting rapid sea-ice loss, rising global temperatures and the impact that is having on plant and animal life around the world. Hundreds of species are going extinct every day, and dwindling ice sheets are profoundly affecting the survival of polar bears, seals, penguins and more.

    More dramatically Vaughn warned that future sea-level rise is a serious probability. Some projections show parts of Miami and other Florida areas under water in 2100. If that happens, an estimated 9,200 structures will be lost and 1 million homes will be below average high tide. That puts 26 hospitals, 213 schools and seven power plants at risk. Total value of the endangered property: $390 billion.

    “And it is human activity that is increasing greenhouse gas emissions. That is not for debate,” he said. “And the decisions we make today have irrevocable implications for the future, so we have to act now.”  

    There are few political issues as polarizing as climate change, which hurts the souls of climate scientists because, to them, this is a human issue, not a political issue. People in the insurance industry, oddly enough, are the ones who "totally get it," Vaughn said. “That’s because they have the most to lose.”

    Two Degrees Field TripBut politicians are another challenge.

    “It’s not that they are intimidated by the science,” said INSTAAR Research Scientist Anne Jennings, who specializes in the study of ocean sediments. “I just think they find it inconvenient, like Al Gore called it. This information gets in the way of commerce.”

    Telling someone you are a climate scientist in this heated political environment can certainly bring a dinner party to a halt, said Holland, a mother of two who would rather spend her time more peacefully on the ice or in her lab. When people discover Vaughn’s profession, he added, the inevitable, incredulous first question that tends to follow is something along the lines of: “Do you really believe in climate change?' Which makes him say: “Are we really having this conversation in 2017?” Just not out loud.

    “No, what I really say is, 'I don't believe in climate change any more than I believe in gravity. Because it’s not a belief system. It's physics,’” Vaughn said.

    “You can have your own opinion, but you can't have your own physics."

    Two Degrees Trump TweetMcCall asked Holland how she reacts when, say, then-candidate Donald Trump tweeted out his belief that global warming is a hoax perpetuated by the Chinese.

    “First I get angry, which isn't necessarily the most productive response,” Holland said. “When someone tells me, 'You lie; you are part of the hoax,’ it does feel very personal. Your integrity is being attacked.

    “I think of myself as a very honest person, and I am raising my children to be honest people. I love my work, and I try to educate people when I talk about it. The fact of the matter is, there is a great deal of uncertainty about what we do. For example, I would say we are 100 percent sure that sea-ice loss is occurring; that greenhouse gas emissions are causing dramatic changes in our climate, and that we humans are responsible for those emissions. That foundation of information is incredibly solid.

    Two Degrees Field Trip Quote“But if you want me to tell you whether humans are responsible for, say, 50 percent of the sea-ice loss, or 80 percent of the sea-ice loss, that is a much more complicated question, and that is where the uncertainty comes in.”

    Vaughn said the discussion now really should be directed toward children, “because it’s the next generation that is really going to have to deal with this,” he said. Holland most enjoys talking with school groups because, she said, “they are not deniers or skeptics. They’re curious.”

    Trump’s election has the local scientists worried, given his stated opinion on climate change, and that the Boulder institutes are funded by U.S. tax dollars.

    “There has been a lot of discussion about defunding climate science,” Holland said, “but we don’t know yet exactly how it will play out.” Senior Scientist Bette Otto-Bleisner, head of NCAR's Paleoclimate Modeling Program, is concerned about the larger distrust of science and medicine that seems to be growing among some Americans. “We are living in a very anti-science moment right now,” added Palmquist, the playwright. 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Despite the gloomy ecological forecast, the cast and crew left their Boulder field trip eager to get back into the rehearsal room with a renewed focus. McCall said it was a gift to be playing a rare female paleoclimatologist and to have a real-life one just like her character living and working just 30 miles north.

    “The biggest thing I got out of watching Marika was how composed and still and confident she is in her science,” she said. “This is not a hunch to her. Having that base of knowledge gives her a solid center.”

    Actor Jason Delane Lee was especially interested to learn more about the mindset of climate skeptics, because he plays a substantive contrarian in Two Degrees. Actor Robert Montano called the field trip “confirming.”

    “This has just made everything so much more clear,” Montano said. “Everything these scientists told us is written in Tira’s script. They match.”

    Added Lee: “You can argue about a lot of things. But you can’t argue the science.”


    John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist.

    Two Degrees Field Trip
    Photo by John Moore.


    Video bonus: Playwright Tira Palmquist talking about Two Degrees


    Our video with 'Two Degrees' playwright Tira Palmquist, at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit. Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

     

    Two Degrees: Ticket information
    Two DegreesEmma, a climate change scientist, is invited to share her findings at a Senate hearing that could define her career and her cause. But if she can’t overcome her tumultuous inner struggle, her dedication and sacrifices may not be enough. Two Degrees was developed at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit.

    Feb. 3-March 12
    Jones Theatre
    ASL and Audio-Described matinee at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, March 5
    303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Two Degrees:
    Two Degrees heats up conversation on global warming
    Two Degrees: Five things we learned at first rehearsal
    Colorado New Play Summit Spotlight: Tira Palmquist, Two Degrees
    Video: Look back at 2016 Colorado New Play Summit
    2016-17 season: Nine shows, two world premieres, return to classics

  • Harvy Blanks: 'Wilsonian Warrior' makes Broadway debut in 'Jitney'

    by John Moore | Jan 20, 2017
    Photo gallery: A look back at Harvy Blanks at the Denver Center:
    Harvy Blanks at the Denver Center

    Harvy Blanks, a veteran of 37 productions with the DCPA Theatre Company, including eight of the 10 August Wilson plays, made his Broadway debut on Thursday (Jan. 19) in Wilson's 'Jitney.' Here is a look back at some of his productions with the Denver Center.To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above.


    First the popular actor made theatre history in Denver. Now he is helping to make history on Broadway.

    By John Moore
    For The DCPA NewsCenter

    In 2009, Harvy Blanks made history as part of the DCPA Theatre Company’s Radio Golf, which made Israel Hicks the first director in the world to have completed the entire August Wilson Century Cycle for the same theatre company.

    Blanks made history again Thursday night, when he not only made his Broadway debut, he did it in Jitney, the 10th and final story in Wilson’s legendary series to be told on Broadway. 

    Blanks is a veteran of 37 DCPA Theatre Company productions over 25 years, including eight of the 10 Wilson plays that chronicle the African-American experience in Pittsburgh’s Hill District throughout each decade of the 20th Century. Jitney takes place in the 1970s and tells the story of gentrification as the city tries to shut down a gypsy cab station whose drivers are struggling to survive. The New York Times is already calling the production glorious, “acted by an impeccably tuned ensemble.”

     “The coupling of my doing any August Wilson play, and being on Broadway for the first time, is just too much,” Blanks said this week. “I sit backstage sometimes and I say to myself, 'Man, I'm on Broadway. And I am rubbing elbows with some of the greatest actors in the world.' ’’

    Some of Blanks’ fellow actors would say they are the ones doing the elbow-rubbing. Kim Staunton, who is back at the Denver Center to appear in the upcoming world premiere of the play Two Degrees, appeared in six August Wilson plays alongside Blanks at the Denver Center, which beat Broadway to the August Wilson finish line by seven years. Staunton says Blanks is part of a tribe she calls “The Wilsonian Warriors.”

    “Harvy is one of America's theater treasures, and a kind, gentle, amazing man,” said Staunton. “He so deserves to be on Broadway, and that his debut is the last August Wilson play in the canon to be produced there, couldn't be more perfect and wonderful.”

    Harvy Blanks JITNEY. Photo by Kareem Black.Blanks admits it was hard for him to accept a role in another Wilson play after Israel Hicks died in 2010. “I've seen a whole lot of August Wilson, but not a lot of good August Wilson,” he said, “and if it's not good, it's going to be bad.”

    Blanks wants to do August Wilson anytime he can do it with a good director, he said, and Jitney director Ruben Santiago-Hudson is Wilson royalty.

    (Photo above and right: Cast of Broadway's 'Jitney.' Photo by Kareem Black.)

    “Ruben is a direct descendent of Israel Hicks and Lloyd Richards and that whole circle of August Wilson’s friends,” Blanks said. Many of his Broadway castmates were part of Wilson’s original productions. Santiago first cast Blanks in a staging of Jitney at Two River Theatre in New Jersey back in 2012. And he not only brought most of that cast with him to Broadway - he insisted on it. Including Blanks, who despite all of his regional experience, was an unknown Broadway entity. As is the case with most every high-stakes Broadway production, there was pressure to bring in bigger names from TV or film for Jitney. But Santiago didn’t flinch.

    Harvy Blanks Quote“He is loyal to a fault,” Blanks said, “and I’ll tell you what, man, this production almost did not get done because of that fact. But Ruben was willing to stand up and say, 'Hey, it has to be this way because these are August Wilson's kind of actors, and I can't do it with anything less than these people. Just to have a big name up there is not going to work for me.’ So he fights for his people, and he fights for the right to put the best play on stage that he can. Ruben reminds me of Israel so much. He's an actor's director, and he is a friend.”

    In the Denver Center’s 2002 production of Jitney, Blanks played Turnbo, a gossiping, gun-pulling livery driver. On Broadway, Blanks is playing Shealy, a smooth, well-dressed numbers man. Blanks describes Shealy as “the spice of life” in the play, a comic role he equates to the mechanical characters in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.

    “When Shealy comes on, he brings all of the energy and all the hopes and desires and passions that exist on the streets of the Hill District,” Blanks said. “He comes in and he tells stories and he elicits conversation with everyone and by the time he makes his exit, I hope you are wondering, ‘What kind of adventure is he going to bring with him next?’ He's a whirlwind, and he's a storyteller, very much like August himself.”

    In order of each decade in the Wilson cycle, Blanks has played:

    • Eli in Gem of the Ocean (DCPA Theatre Company)
    • Loomis in Joe Turner’s Come and Gone (DCPA Theatre Company)
    • Slow Drag in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Two River Theater)
    • Harvy Blank DCPA Radio GolfBoy Willie in The Piano Lesson (DCPA Theatre Company)
    • Canewell in Seven Guitars (DCPA Theatre Company)
    • Gabe in Fences (DCPA Theatre Company)
    • West in Two Trains Running (Two River Theater)
    • Turnbo and Shealy in Jitney (DCPA Theatre Company/Broadway)
    • Stool Pigeon in King Hedley II (DCPA Theatre Company)
    • Sterling Johnson in Radio Golf (DCPA Theatre Company, pictured above)

    And so he was inevitably asked if he has a favorite. And like most actors, Blanks’ favorite character is the character he’s working on now.

    Harvy Blanks JITNEY. Photo by Joan Marcus“Shealy is always in this very fashionable 1970s attire,” he said. “These are the clothes my dad's generation used to wear. I looked in the mirror in the dressing room the other day, and I just saw my dad in that suit, man. You can't know how meaningful that was to me. It took me right back to those days with my dad and my mom getting dressed to go out, and he’s putting on this suit that looks exactly like the one I wear in this play. It warms me. So I'm in love with this guy right now.  And I have to thank August Wilson for that, because the turns of phrases that my dad and my uncles used to use all the time are now pouring out of my mouth.”

    (Pictured right: Harvy Blanks in Broadway's 2017 production of 'Jitney.' Photo by Joan Marcus.)

    Wilsonian Warriors have that in common, Staunton said.

     “We recognize these people from our own families,” she said. “Having done so many shows with Harvy, I've had the pleasure of hearing his stories of the wonderful community who helped raise him. Like always, I know he has pulled from that extraordinary pool to create Shealy.”

    Blanks last appeared at the Denver Center in a seminal 2011 production of Ruined, a Mother Courage-like story set in a brothel in war-torn Africa. Blanks’ DCPA resume includes roles in many African-American stories, such as Purlie and A Raisin in the Sun. But it’s remarkably varied slate, including August Strindberg’s Miss Julie, Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, Joseph Kesselring’s Arsenic and Old Lace and nine seasonal productions of A Christmas Carol.

    “I miss it, man,” he said. That’s where I cut my teeth.”

    He knew the Denver Center would be his artistic home, he said, when then-Artistic Director Donovan Marley told him, “We don't have 'color' around here,’ ” Blanks said. “He told me, 'You are going to be a full part of the company, and that means you will be expected to do what Jamie Horton does, or Kathy Brady does, or John Hutton does.’ The biggies. These people were so gifted, and so just by sitting there and watching them work, I became far more disciplined as an actor than I was before I got there. So my time in Denver was huge to me.”

    the-mountaintop_lake-dillon-theatreBlanks returns to Colorado whenever possible. He performed in Lake Dillon Theatre Company’s The Mountaintop opposite Staunton in 2014 (pictured right), and last year he was back in Denver performing in the world premiere of the musical Uncle Jed’s Barbershop at the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Theatre.

    Here’s more of our conversation with Blanks, including his take on the new movie version of Fences:

    John Moore: What does it mean to you to be making your Broadway debut at this stage of your career?

    Harvy Blanks: I have certainly wanted to do Broadway, but it wasn't on my bucket list.

    John Moore: How is that possible?

    Harvy Blanks: Because after you have done theatre for a while, you lose that romantic view. And when you let something go, it frees you from your angst. But a lot of times, it comes back to you in strange and magical forms. Once you let something go free, you find yourself meeting up with it again down the road - and that's the way this happened.  

    John Moore: What was your first encounter with August Wilson’s work?

    Harvy Blanks: The first August Wilson experience I ever had was a production of Fences in Chicago with James Earl Jones, and I walked out of there in a daze. It was a nice summer night, and I must have walked forever. I was just completely in my head about what I had just witnessed.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    John Moore: I was thinking about you and Kim Staunton when I saw the movie version of Fences a few weeks ago. What did you think of the film?

    Harvy Blanks: We were invited by (director and star Denzel Washington) to attend a screening here in New York, and we got to party with him. I was just bowled over ... and I am going to tell you the truth. I was thinking to myself: 'There are no chase scenes, there are no blood spatters, there are no sex scenes. I just don't know if America is ready for this.' But, man. That movie took me on a journey. How Denzel shot it reminded me of A Streetcar Named Desire in a lot of ways. Directors often have a problem turning plays into movies, but this was put on the screen in such an artistic fashion. I think it’s going to change cinema. I got into an argument after the film with a person who said, 'Yeah but they talked so much.’ And I said, 'Yeah, that's what it’s about: People talking. It’s not about helicopter crashes and missiles. It’s a story, and if you listen, you might pick some things.’

    Harvy Blanks quoteJohn Moore: How about Viola Davis and her willingness to get messy? I mean, in that one key scene, she has bodily fluids coming out of three orifices of her face at the same time. There are actors I'm sure who would have said to the director, “Let's cut, because I know I'm not going to look good on camera.” But with Viola Davis, it seems to be the messier the better.

    Harvy Blanks: That was just amazing. And just to be frank: I didn't know how to take it at first. At one point I was just thinking, “Please, Viola, just wipe your nose.” But the more I thought about it, I said, “Yes! When people are in that state - everything flies.” I have been there. I think what she did is going to be a conversation piece for the ages among actors: “To wipe, or not to wipe? That is the question!”

    John Moore: I say don't wipe.

    Harvy Blanks: You say don't wipe.

    John Moore: So to wrap this up, I want to ask you the big question about where we are as a nation and a people right now. In his final interview with American Theatre magazine in 2006, August Wilson expressed hope that with the completion of his cycle, “blacks might now move forward into the next century united, ditching the yoke of disenfranchisement without surrendering their cultural identity.” And then I thought about something you told me in a previous interview. You said we should look at the cycle as a metaphor for what blacks in this country have been struggliHarvy Blanks JITNEY. Joan Marcusng to do since slavery - and that’s trying to find family. But both of those quotes are a decade old now. When you look at them in the context of what has happened in America since, I wonder where you think we're at in terms of that pursuit.

    Harvy Blanks: Well, I think we are still pursuing it, quite frankly. This is what I have basically come to: There are forces out there that don't want you to get what you want, because they want what they want, and they will use whatever powers they can to keep that from happening.

    (Photo above and right: Harvy Blanks and Keith Randolph Smith in Broadway's 'Jitney.' Photo by Joan Marcus.)

    John Moore: So, do you think we are heading in the right direction as a country?

    Harvy Blanks: Honestly, I never thought we were heading in the right direction. When Obama was elected, I said, “OK, this is a moment in time.” But this whole fantasy of a post-racial society? Are you kidding me? Who came up with that term? It's stupid to think that. Here’s what I think: The American Dream is always in flux. So you and me? We can differ. But I have a feeling, that you are going to basically be straight up with me, and that I can be straight up with you. And I think that in terms of human beings, that's the best that we can hope for: That we can have a dialogue. And that's what August Wilson has provided with his plays.

    John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist.


    Harvy Blanks' full chronology of plays at the Denver Center:


    Purlie

    Purlie

    1985-86

    The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

    Jim

    1989-90

    Fences

    Gabriel

    1989-90

    Three Men on a Horse

    Frankie

    1989-90

    White Paint

    Jake Rutledge

    1989-90

    Back to the Blanket

    Buffalo Soldier

    1990-91

    Joe Turner's Come and Gone

    Herald Loomis

    1990-91

    The Man Who Came to Dinner

    Banjo

    1990-91

    Miss Julie

    John

    1990-91

    They Shoot Horses Don't They?

    Rollo

    1990-91

    Arsenic and Old Lace

    Lieutenant Rooney

    1991-92

    Home

    Cephus Miles

    1991-92

    To Kill a Mockingbird

    Tom Robinson

    1991-92

    The Piano Lesson

    Boy Willie

    1992-93

    Someone Who'll Watch Over Me

    Adam

    1994-95

    The Taming of the Shrew

    Curtis

    1994-95

    Seven Guitars

    Canewell

    1996-97

    Dream on Monkey Mountain

    Tigre

    1998-99

    A Christmas Carol (original version)

    Fezziwig/Businessman

    Four years**

    The Winter's Tale

    Cleomenes/Ensemble

    1999-00

    Jitney

    Turnbo

    2001-02

    King Hedley II

    Stool Pigeon

    2002-03

    A Streetcar Named Desire

    Mitch

    2003-04

    Madwoman

    Cop

    2004-05

    A Selfish Sacrifice

    Samuel Armstrong

    2004-05

    Gem of the Ocean

    Eli

    2005-06

    A Christmas Carol* (new version)

    Subscription Gent/Old Joe

    Five seasons*

    Radio Golf

    Sterling Johnson

    2008-09

    A Raisin in the Sun

    Bobo

    2009-10

    Ruined

    Christian

    2010-11

    *Blanks performed in the "new" version of A Christmas Carol in 2006-07, 2008-09, 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12

    *Blanks performed in the "original" version of A Christmas Carol in 1994-95, 1995-96, 1998-99 and 1999-00

  • 'Two Degrees': Five things we learned at first rehearsal

    by John Moore | Jan 06, 2017
    'Two Degrees' in Denver
    Photos from the first rehearsal of Tira Palmquist's play 'Two Degrees' by the DCPA Theatre Company. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. Click again to download. All photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

    When Director Christy Montour-Larson went looking for the key to unlock Tira Palmquist’s new play Two Degrees, she looked no further than her own pocket.

    “All I had to do is pull out my own house key, because when I read this play for the first time, I felt like I was home,” said Montour-Larson, who will direct the upcoming world premiere for the DCPA Theatre Company opening Feb. 3.

    Two Degrees. Director Christy Montour-Larson and Tira Palmquist. hoto by John Moore. Two Degrees is about a woman – and a planet – in crisis. Emma is scientist who has been called to Washington to testify to a congressional committee on climate legislation. And it’s the anniversary of her husband's death.

    “I love this play because it is about something,” Montour-Larson said on the first day of rehearsal. “Climate change isn't just another issue in a world proliferating with other issues. Climate change is the one issue that, left unchecked, will swamp all other issues.”

    New calculations from Scientific American magazine indicate that if the world continues to burn fossil fuels at the current rate, the average temperature of the Earth will rise 2 degrees Celsius by 2036, crossing a threshold that will devastate human civilization, Montour-Larson said.

    “We are the first generation in the history of humanity to feel the effects of climate change,” she said, “and we are the last generation who can do anything about it.”

    And if you are a playwright, the thing you do about it is you write a play about it.

    “For me, as a playwright, the personal is political, and the political is personal,” said Palmquist, who wrote Two Degrees as opportunity to write roles for women older than 45, and also as an opportunity to talk about climate change. For her, that’s as political – and as personal – as it gets.

    “Humans aren't the first species to alter the atmosphere,” added Two Degrees Dramaturg Heather Helinsky, quoting Elizabeth Kolbert’s book Field Notes from a Catastrophe. That distinction belongs to early bacteria, which invented photosynthesis 2 two billion years ago. “But we are the first species to be in a position to understand what we are doing.”

    And that’s why, Lighting Designer Charles MacLeod said, “This is a play we have to do. And not 20 years from now - we have to do it now.”

    (Pictured above and right: 'Two Degrees' Director Christy Montour-Larson and Playwright Tira Palmquist. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    Here are five things we learned at that first rehearsal for Two Degrees, opening Feb. 3 in the Jones Theatre:

    NUMBER 1 It’s melting! That’s right. Scenic Designer Robert Mark Morgan has fashioned a series of hanging painted panels that will look like different forms of ice. But look closely, because about six of them are going to be literally made out of ice that will slowly melt throughout the performance. The idea: The world of the play is the world of our world. “Our hope is that maybe 50 percent of the audience will say afterward, ‘Hey, wasn't it really cool that part of the set melted?’ And the other 50 percent will say, 'I didn't see that,’ ” said Montour-Larson, adding to laughs: “And then you can say to that person: 'Yeah, and that's why you are part of the problem! You didn't notice!"  

    Five things we learned at first rehearsal for The Book of Will

    NUMBER 2Credit is due. A small local collective called The Athena Project is responsible for Two Degrees coming to the attention of DCPA Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson. Montour-Larson directed a reading of the play as part of the Athena Project’s 2015 new-play festival, then handed the script over to Thompson, who shouted out founder Angela Astle and her 3-year-old company at the first rehearsal. “Athena envisions a world where women's voices are powerfully expressed and recognized for their artistic merit in the community,” Thompson said.

    Five things we learned at first rehearsal for The Christians

    NUMBER 3Mr. Jones and you. Two Degrees will be the first play the DCPA Theatre Company presents in the Jones Theatre as a mainstage production since David Mamet’s A Boston Marriage in 2004. At 200 seats, The Jones is the Denver Center’s smallest theatre. “It's just perfect for Two Degrees because it’s so intimate, and the audience is going to be right there with us as we tell the story,” Montour-Larson said.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    NUMBER 4Two Degrees. Jason Ducat The sound of ice. Sound Designer Jason Ducat (right) promises to replicate the sound of real, cracking ice at key points of the story. He and fellow DCPA soundman Craig Breitenbach embedded microphones into real ice and then recorded the sound as it broke up. “We're going to have speakers underneath the seats so the audience will really be able to feel that rumble,” said Ducat, who grew up in Bowling Green, Ohio, hometown of Olympic figure-skating champion Scott Hamilton. “For about 15 years of my life, I pretty much lived on a sheet of ice. It is one of the most peaceful things you can ever experience," Ducat said. But the sound ice cracking also can be terrifying. I know this because when I was young, I was really stupid and I would see how far out on the ice I could get before it started to crack - and then I would have to fly back in to try to beat it. But when I think of the character of Emma, I think she really wants to be on that ice. So I wanted to create that as the soundscape of the play."

    NUMBER 5Do I know you? Montour-Larson met Palmquist at the 2012 Seven Devils Playwrights Conference in McCall, Idaho. They got to talking and soon learned they both grew up in Minnesota. Then they figured out that they both had performed in a summer repertory theatre program in Duluth, Minn., decades before. So Montour-Larson asked Palmquist what shows she was in, and Palmquist answered, “Oh a few, like, Dames at Sea and Play it Again Sam.” And Montour-Larson dead-panned: "I was in all those shows with you." Everyone talks about six degrees of separation, but in Palmquist’s play every character has, appropriately enough, just two degrees of separation. “And here we discovered that Tira and I had two degrees of separation, because we already knew each other through our younger selves,” said Montour-Larson.

    Bonus: There will be some Greenlandic spoken during the play. That is all.

     

    John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist.


    Video bonus: Spotlight on Two Degrees



    Two Degrees
    : Cast list

    Written by Tira Palmquist
    Directed by Christy Montour-Larson

    • Jason Delane (One Night in Miami) as Clay Simpson

    • Kathleen McCall (The Glass Menagerie) as Emma Phelps

    • Robert Montano (Colorado New Play Summit) as Jeffrey Phelps/Eric Wilson/Malik Peterson

    • Kim Staunton (Fences) as Louise Allen


    Two Degrees: Ticket information
    Two DegreesEmma, a climate change scientist, is invited to share her findings at a Senate hearing that could define her career and her cause. But if she can’t overcome her tumultuous inner struggle, her dedication and sacrifices may not be enough. Two Degrees was developed at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit.

    Feb. 3-March 12
    Jones Theatre
    ASL and Audio-Described matinee at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, March 5
    303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE


    Two Degrees. Kathleen McCall and Robert Montano. Photo by John Moore.
    First rehearsal for the upcoming 'Two Degrees': Kathleen McCall and Robert Montano. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

  • Denzel Washington to follow in Israel Hicks' historic Denver footsteps

    by John Moore | Sep 18, 2015

    From left: August Wilson, Israel Hicks and Denzel Washington. From left: August Wilson, Israel Hicks and Denzel Washington.


    Denzel Washington intends to  direct all 10 of August Wilson’s plays for HBO, the two-time Oscar-winning actor revealed Thursday during an informal Q&A at the University of Southern California.

    If it happens, Washington would be endeavoring to do on film what Israel Hicks did first on stage. Hicks made history with the DCPA Theatre Company in 2009, when he became the first director anywhere to helm August Wilson's entire 10-play, 10-decade exploration of the black experience in America for the same theater company. "It has to rank up with the greatest achievements in the history of the American theater,” actor Harvy Blanks said at the time.

    READ JOHN MOORE'S TRIBUTE TO ISRAEL HICKS


    Washington, who won a Tony Award for his live theatrical performance in the 2010 Broadway revival of Wilson’s Fences, says he had made the arrangements with the Pulitzer-winning playwright’s estate to pursue the project for HBO. The cable network has not independently confirmed the news.

    “I’m directing, producing — and acting in one (Fences) — and I’m executive producing the other nine,” he told interviewer Todd Boyd during the “An Evening With Denzel Washington” event. “I’m really excited about that — that the estate would put that in my hands and trust me. That’s good enough for me. It doesn’t get any better than that.”

    READ JOHN MOORE'S TRIBUTE TO AUGUST WILSON

    Washington also said Viola Davis — his costar in Fences — will act alongside him in the HBO version. Davis, currently the star of TV’s How to Get Away With Murder, also won a Tony for her performance in the Broadway revival of Fences, set in the Hill District circa 1957 and a Pulitzer Prize winner for the late playwright.

    The DCPA Theatre Company's 1990 production of 'Fences,' directed by Israel Hicks. And who was Israel Hicks?

    "I learned the joy of living from him," said Kim Staunton, the longtime Denver Center actor who appeared in many of Hicks' DCPA productions. "Part of me died with him."

    The Wilson cycle in Denver was initiated in 1990 by then-Artistic Director Donovan Marley and completed in 2009 under his successor, Kent Thompson.

    "It's a huge deal because any commitment over that period of time is extremely rare in the American theater today," Thompson said.

    (Photo: From the DCPA Theatre Company's 1990 production of 'Fences,' directed by Israel Hicks.)

    Wilson’s 10 plays, colloquially known as the August Wilson Century Cycle, explored the effects of slavery and Civil War on the culture in the 1900s. When Wilson died in 2005, Shadow Theatre Company founder Jeffrey Nickelson said the American theater had lost one of its giants, "but the black American theater has lost its Shakespeare." 

    "It is the history of a culture," Hicks said of the Wilson Cycle in his final Denver Post interview. He died in 2010 at age 66.

    "Every Wilson play asks big questions like, 'Will we get bogged down by the history, or do we move forward?' " said Hicks, who grew up in New York in the turbulent '60s asking big questions of his own, like, "Where do we come from?" "Who am I?" and "Where is my history?"  "And I think out of that, August gave birth to some answers - decade by decade," he said.

    ​According to Playbill.com, a film version of Fences was discussed as early as 1990, but Wilson “was famously adamant that the project could go forward only if it had a black director, as the original 1987 Broadway production had had in Lloyd Richards.”

    To watch the video of Denzel Washington's announcement, click here.

    Wire services contributed to this report.

    Selected previous August Wilson coverage by John Moore:

    Wilson's entire cycle in words and photos, as performed in Denver
    Wilson's cycle a search for history, family
    Hicks to complete landmark theatre milestone in Denver
    Harvy Blanks on Wilson: 'An August lesson in being American'

    The 10 Most Important American Plays: Fences makes the list

  • Meet the cast: Maurice Jones

    by John Moore | Sep 17, 2015
    At the Theatre Company: Ruined, To Kill A Mockingbird, The Taming of the Shrew, A Christmas Carol. Broadway: Julius Caesar, Romeo & Juliet. Roundabout: Little Children Dream of God. Folger Shakespeare Library: Julius Caesar. Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey: The Learned Ladies. National Theatre Conservatory: Richard III, Charley’s Aunt, Fahrenheit 451, Topdog/Underdog, The Good Woman of Setzuan, Nicholas Nickleby, Our Town. Cabaret Theatre: Glengarry Glen Ross, Six Degrees of Separation, Suzan Lori Parks’ 365 Days/365 Plays. Livingston Theatre Company: Ragtime, Once On This Island. Television: “30 Rock,” “Conviction.” Film: Winter’s Tale, And So It Goes. Training: MFA, National Theatre Conservatory, DCPA.

    MEET MAURICE JONES
    Jones, Maurice_August 2015Orlando in As You Like It​

  • Hometown: Trenton, N.J.
  • Training: Rutgers University/National Theatre Conservatory at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts (MFA)
  • What was the role that changed your life? Not so much the role that changed my life, but rather the show, would have to be the 2011 production of Ruined that I was honored to be in here at the Denver Center. Directed by Seret Scott and starring the incomparable Kim Staunton, Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize-winnig play was the first true and tangible evidence that I had ever experienced about how important and socially enlightening Ruined. Photo by Terry Shapiro. theatre could really be. It was nothing less than a high honor to be a part of the telling of that story. There were audience members who had no idea that such radical and violent injustice was happening in the world. I met countless patrons after the show who, with tears flooding their eyes, would come to me and simply say, “I had no idea.” That afforded a the privileged opportunity one can sometimes have as an actor. That is to say in reply, “And now you know.” And that’s my job as an actor. (Photo: Kim Staunton in 'Ruined."' Photo by Terry Shapiro.)
  • What would you be doing for a career if you weren’t an actor? If I weren’t an actor I would doubtless be an educator. I studied English at Rutgers University and would love to teach a course on dramatic literature or acting. I taught music for a couple of summers at the Denver Center Theatre Academy and found working with young children so much for fulfilling than I thought I would. It really solidified education as a solid, solid future goal of mine.
  • James Earl JonesIdeal scene partner: It might have to be James Earl Jones circa 1987 in August Wilson’s Fences. There is a video online you can watch of his performance as Troy with Courtney B. Vance playing his son, Cory. I watch it perhaps once a week to marvel at what pure power on stage looks like. I would be beyond terrified to do that scene with that man, but that’s also what excites me about it!
  • Why does this play matter? As You Like It was written in 1599 and remains a popular play for very good reason. Like so many of Shakespeare’s plays. it is truly timeless in its themes, its ideas and its sensibilities. This play matters in 2015 because it beautifully and comically highlights the fervent, earnest, turbulent and oftentimes wacky pursuit of true love. It captures the giddy speechlessness of awkward teenage infatuation, the fickleness of romantic interest and the importance of patience when it comes to your heart’s desires. All themes that have always been and will always be prevalent.
  • What do you hope the audience gets out of As You Like it? I truly hope audiences leave uplifted and entertained. It’s a fast-paced story of madcap cross Rumidressing, body slamming, guitar playing, forest dwelling, back stabbing, poetry writing, heart professing love! Requited and otherwise.
  • Finish this sentence: "All I want is ... " to “respond to every call that excites my spirit.” ~ Rumi

  • Maurice Jones, who plays Orlando, reads at the first rehearsal for 'As You Like It.' Photo by John Moore.

    Maurice Jones, who plays Orlando, reads at the first rehearsal for 'As You Like It.' Photo by John Moore.

    More 'Meet the Cast' profiles:
    Molly Brennan, Red Queen and others, Lookingglass Alice
    Maurice Jones, Orlando in As You Like It
  • Photos: Week 2 of the Colorado New Play Summit

    by John Moore | Feb 22, 2015


    Our comprehensive photo gallery from the second weekend of the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit spans a special performance of Off-Center's Cult Following; professional readings of three plays written by selected local teen playwrights; two playwriting workshops hosted by acclaimed writer and teacher Paula Vogel (How I Learned to Drive), and the Saturday night wrap party. All photos by John Moore and Suzanne Yoe.

    To see our photos from the first week of the  2015 Colorado New Play Summit, click here.

    For all of our Summit coverage, click here to go to our NewsCenter.

    THE SUMMIT SPOTLIGHT VIDEO SERIES:
    Part 1: The Nest, by Theresa Rebeck
    Part 2: The There There, by Jason Gray Platt
    Part 3: Holy Laughter, by Catherine Trieschmann
    Part 4: Fade, by Tanya Saracho

    MORE COVERAGE FROM THE 2015 COLORADO NEW PLAY SUMMIT:


    Matthew Lopez's 2015 Summit Soliloquy video
    Primer: Your guide to the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit
    Summit cast lists: Familiar names and new names
    Playwrights named for inaugural Local Playwrights Slam
    2015 Summit to introduce inaugural Local Playwrights Slam
    Colorado New Play Summit expands to two weekends; playwrights announced


    Emily Tarquin and Steven Cole Hughes. Photo by John Moore.
     The DCPA's Emily Tarquin and Steven Cole Hughes at the Saturday night wrap party for the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit in the Seawell Balroom. Photo by John Moore.

  • 2015 Summit Spotlight video: Catherine Trieschmann's 'Holy Laughter'

    by John Moore | Feb 21, 2015


    In Catherine Trieschmann's Holy Laughter, an Episcopal priest finds the reality of leading a church in the Eastern Plains of Colorado to be radically and comically different from what she learned in seminary. As she wrestles with church finances, eccentric parishioners, changing sexual mores and her own doubting heart, Abigail struggles to make peace with the realities of contemporary church life.

    Trieschmann also wrote last season's hit comedy, The Most Deserving. While Holy Laughter is set in the church, 'The play really has its fingers in some universal questions," Treischmann says.

    The cast includes Sadieh Rifai, Kelley Rae O’Donnell, Michael Santo, Kim Staunton, Chris Murray, Mehry Eslaminia and Chelsea Frye. The director is Shelley Butler. Video by John Moore and David Lenk.

    Of working at the DCPA, Trieschmann says:  "My relationship with the Denver Center has changed my life — and my ability to afford child care, honestly while I write. Knowing I can write a complicated, female protagonist, and that this theatre is going to embrace that? These things have been incredibly encouraging to me."

    For all of our Summit coverage, click here to go to our NewsCenter.

    THE SUMMIT SPOTLIGHT VIDEO SERIES:
    Part 1: The Nest, by Theresa Rebeck
    Part 2: The There There, by Jason Gray Platt
    Part 3: Holy Laughter, by Catherine Trieschmann
    Part 4: Fade, by Tanya Saracho

    MORE COVERAGE FROM THE 2015 COLORADO NEW PLAY SUMMIT:

    Photos: Week 1 of the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit
    Matthew Lopez's 2015 Summit Soliloquy video
    Primer: Your guide to the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit
    Summit cast lists: Familiar names and new names
    Playwrights named for inaugural Local Playwrights Slam
    2015 Summit to introduce inaugural Local Playwrights Slam
    Colorado New Play Summit expands to two weekends; playwrights announced

    'Holy Laughter.' Photo by Kyle Malone. Kelley Rae O'Donnell and Chris Murray have a laugh during 'Holy Laughter' rehearsal. Photo by Kyle Malone.
  • Summit cast lists: Familiar names, new names and ... Laurence Lau

    by John Moore | Feb 09, 2015

    A SUMMIT 800


    Preparations begin in earnest today for the 10th Colorado New Play Summit, and the first since the premiere showcase of new American works for the American Theatre expanded to two weeks.

    The four selected plays will be developed this week, presented to the public next weekend (Feb. 14-15), then go back into rehearsal for another round of improvements before being presented again the following weekend for the national theatre industry (Feb. 20-21). 

    Laurence LauThe cast lists have now been announced. One name that jumps out to pop-culture aficionados is Laurence Lau, who has made quite a name for himself as a theatre actor since becoming an international household name playing Greg (as in Greg and Jenny) on TV's All My Children. Lau last appeared in Denver playing the pedophile boyfriend in the national touring production of August: Osage County.

    Among the familiar names to DCPA Theatre Company audiences are Kim Staunton (black odyssey), Michael Santo (Death of a Salesman, Jackie & Me), Lise Bruneau (Heartbreak House), Nasser Faris (Inana), Victoria Mack (The 39 Steps) and Jessica Love (Map of Heaven). The ensembles also include Nick Mills and Mehry Iris Eslaminia, both of whom are appearing in the world premiere of Appoggiatura. Shelley Butler, who directed Catherine Trieschmann's hit comedy The Most Deserving last year, is back to helm Holy Laughter. No cast members from Benediction will be participating in Summit readings this year because of conflicting performance schedules.

    Primer: Your guide to the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit.


    CAST LISTS:

    The There There
    By Jason Gray Platt
    Director: Courtney Sale
    Dramaturg: Douglas Langworthy
    One couple traverses a lifetime in a single sitting in this expansive, stirring new play.  From their first touch in the present day through the next 45 years, the dynamics of their relationship fluctuate as quickly as the latest twists of technology. Packing an entire life into six potent scenes, Platt’s masterful dialogue probes the heart and questions what it means to hang on to humanity as the 21st century advances.

    Role: Actor
    Actor 1: Nick Mills
    Actor 2: Vin Kridakorn
    Actor 3: Melissa Recalde
    Actor 4: Nasser Faris
    Actor 5: Lenny Von Dohlen
    Actor 6: Lise Bruneau
    Reader: Heather Hughes



    The Crown

    By Theresa Rebeck
    Director: Adrienne Campbell-Holt
    For the small-town regulars at The Crown, life is an endless series of jokes and over-the-top conversations that liven up the neighborhood watering hole… until a well-heeled woman walks in and tries to buy the beautiful antique bar. A comedy with quirky humor and quick wit. A DCPA Theatre Company commission.

    Role: Actor
    Margo: Carly Street
    Patrick Wilcox: John Procaccino
    Barry: Brian D. Coats
    Nick Freelander: Laurence Lau
    Laila Freelander: Carine Montbertrand
    Sam: Victoria Mack
    Ned Batish: Kevin Berntson
    Irene Colatonio: Jessica Love
    Reader: Royce Roeswood


    Fade
    By Tanya Saracho
    Director: Jerry Ruiz
    Dramaturg: Stephanie Ybarra
    Mexican-born Lucia is hired to write for a Latina character on an L.A.-based TV series. She soon discovers that Abel, the Chicano studio custodian, has a windfall of plot ideas. As their friendship grows and she begins incorporating Abel’s insights into her scripts, Lucia’s professional stardom starts to rise, but her personal life only becomes more and more complicated. A DCPA Theatre Company commission.

    Role: Actor
    Lucia: Alejandra Escalante
    Abel: Eddie Martinez
    Reader: Amy Luna



    Holy Laughter

    By Catherine Trieschmann
    Director: Shelley Butler
    Dramaturg: Joy Meads
    An Episcopal priest finds the reality of leading a church is radically and hilariously different than what she learned in seminary. As she wrestles with church finances, eccentric parishioners, changing sexual mores and her own doubting human heart, Abigail struggles to make peace with the realities of contemporary church life. Hymns, liturgical dance and a wicked tongue lift this antic portrait of a small, struggling congregation to comic heights. Trieschmann wrote last season's hit comedy, The Most Deserving. A DCPA Theatre Company commission.

    Role: Actor
    Abigail: Sadieh Rifai
    Esther /Myra: Kelley Rae O’Donnell
    Lloyd / Victor: Michael Santo
    Martine / Vivienne: Kim Staunton
    Noah / Sam: Chris Murray
    Ensemble/Guitar and Vocals: Mehry Eslaminia
    Reader: Chelsea Frye


    For more information on the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit, or to order tickets, call 303-893-6030 or click here to go to the DCPA’s web site.
  • Page to Stage video highlights: Kim Staunton with John Moore

    by John Moore | Feb 15, 2014

    Who doesn't need an hour with Denver Center Theatre Company actor Kim Staunton in their lives? No one. Next best thing: Seven minutes of highlights from our hour with Kim Staunton at the Tattered Cover Bookstore.

    Staunton is an open-hearted actress is known for leaving blood on the floor while playing tough roles such as Blanche in "A Streetcar Named Desire," Rose in "Fences" and Mama Nadi in "Ruined."

    No matter what role she is playing, Staunton rips her rib cage open, says moderator John Moore, to reveal a rare combination of vulnerability and outright ferociousness. Staunton, currently starring in "black odyssey" though Sunday (Feb. 16), recently joined Moore for Page to Stage, a series of free, monthly noontime conversations that have since moved to the Tattered Cover on East Colfax Avenue.

    In the highlights video above, the two talk about race in casting, Staunton's seminal roles, her brush with movie stardom ("Changing Lanes" with Samuel L. Jackson) and finding home at the Denver Center.

    "I'm just glad people like (the Denver Center's) Randal Myler and Israel Hicks and Donovan Marley and Kent Thompson say, 'Let's try something different. Let's forget the color of the person's skin.' " Staunton says.

    "This is exactly where I'm supposed to be," she says of her time at the Denver Center. "I literally was handed the roles of a lifetime."

    Staunton is currently playing several roles parts the Denver Center Theatre Company's world premiere of "black odyssey," closing tomorrow at the Space Theatre. This magical new play recasts Homer’s The Odyssey from an African-American perspective.

    Page to Stage is designed to enrich Denver Center audiences’ theatre experience and spark a conversation.

    Our next event, to be held at noon March 4, features the cast of national touring production of Million Dollar Quartet, which plays The Buell Theatre from Feb. 25 through March 9. That's the true story of the one recording session between Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins. Brought together in 1956 by Sam Phillips, that legendary night comes to life on the stage featuring timeless hits including “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Fever,” “That’s All Right,” “Sixteen Tons,” “Great Balls of Fire,” “I Walk the Line,” “Who Do You Love?,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Hound Dog” and more.

    Moore will be joined by cast members as they discuss the show, the music and even play a few hits from the show. Reminder: These events are now held at the The Tattered Cover at 2526 E. Colfax Ave.

  • Meet the cast video series: 'black odyssey'

    by John Moore | Feb 02, 2014

    In this ongoing series, we briefly introduce you to the actors performing in our plays in a fun way. Meet Eric Lockley, who is making his Denver Center debut as Malachai and Poly'famous in the Denver Center Theatre Company's world-premiere drama, "black odyssey." Marcus Gardley inventively recasts Homer's "The Odyssey" as a means to bridge generations of black history. Video by John Moore. Run time: Most videos run about 2 minutes long.

    Meet other members of the 'black odyssey' cast:

    Eric Lockley

    Kim Staunton

    Tony Todd

     

  • Video: Kim Staunton still misses director Israel Hicks 'every day'

    by John Moore | Jan 26, 2014

    Note: KIm Staunton will be John Moore's guest for an hour of conversation at noon on Tuesday, Jan. 28, at our next LoDo Page 2 Stage event. It's free and open to the public. Click here for more information.

     

    It has been three years since the death of Israel Hicks, but Denver Center Theatre Company actor Kim Staunton still misses the renowned director every day.

    Many Denver Center audiences know Hicks made history with the Denver Center Theatre Company in 2009, when he became the first director in the world to helm August Wilson's entire 10-play, 10-decade exploration of the black experience in America for the same theater company. Staunton was cast by Hicks in many of those Denver Center productions. But most don't know Staunton's association with Hicks actually goes all the way back to high school.

    Hicks was the principal during Staunton's senior year at Ellington School of the Arts in Washington D.C. He was instrumental in getting her into The Juilliard School in New York City.

    "Israel was part of my beginning in launching me," Staunton said, before adding with a laugh: "However, he didn’t think to hire me in a show until a lot of years later."

    That was "Pork Pie, A Mythic Jazz Fable" and it was during the 2000-01 season here at the Denver Center.

    "I played Mahaley," Staunton said. "She goes into a coma at the end of Act One, and she doesn’t come come out of it  until the end of the play. So Israel said, 'We have to find something more for you to do.' 

    "And sure enough, he did, and everything else is history from there. He really did stick to his word. He kept me working. After he passed, an actor friend told me, 'You and Israel had a love affair -- and it was a love affair of art. You were great collaborators.' And we were.  It was a love affair. He's here with me still. Absolutely."

    Staunton has continued to work feverishly. She appeared last season in "Fences," directed by Lou Bellamy. It was the Denver Center's first August Wilson production not directed by Hicks. In October she played Linda Loman in the South Coast Repertory Theatre's “Death of a Salesman” in Costa Mesa, Calif. In November She played the uptight wife in the Lone Tree Arts Center's "Sylvia." And last week she opened in the Denver Center Theatre Company's world-premiere production of black odyssey.

    "I am one of the fortunate actors who has had a theater that has been so willing to embrace me and bless me with these wonderful roles," she said. It's rare for an actor to that. I have gotten to do great, great things here, and Denver has been home for me."

    Read our full feature story on Kim Staunton from October.

  • Photos: Opening night of 'black odyssey'

    by John Moore | Jan 24, 2014

    image

    Dr. Vincent G. Harding (center), civil-rights leader, teacher, scholar, engaged citizen, and seeker, is especially noted for his decades of social justice work, as well as his close association with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He is joined by "black odyssey" playwright Marcus Gardley, left, and director Chay Yew. Other opening-night guests included Art Jones and artist.

    Last night was the opening performance of the world premiere play black odyssey by Marcus Gardley. This Denver Center Theatre Company commission uses Homer’s The Odyssey as a framework for exploring generations of African-American history up to the present day. The cast includes Jason Bowen, Tony Todd, Cleavant Derricks, Kim Staunton, Eric Lockley, Brenda Pressley, Shamika Cotton, Eugene Fleming and Sequoiah Hippolyte, and plays through Feb. 16 in the Space Theatre. Call 303-893-4100 or go to www.denvercenter.org. Photos by John Moore.

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    The view from the men's room mirror!

     

    imageThe curtain call. Foreground: Kim Staunton.

     

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    The curtain call. Foreground: Cleavant Derricks.

     

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    The curtain call. Foreground: Ensemble member Tyrell D. Rae.

     

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    The curtain call. Eric Lockley, left, and Kim Staunton.

     

    imageThe curtain call.

     

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    The curtain call: Eric Lockley and Shamika Cotton.

     

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    From left: Jason Bowen, Eric Lockley and Shamika Cotton.

     

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    Lending some support at the afterparty: "The Legend of Georgia McBride" cast members Nick Mills, left, and Matt McGrath.

     

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    Playwright Marcus Gardley.

     

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    Brenda Pressley, Kim Staunton and former Denver Center favorite Gwen Harris.

     

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    Kim Staunton, left, greets Lisa Rigsby-Peterson, head of the Lone Tree Arts Center. Staunton recently appeared in "Sylvia" at Lone Tree.

     

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    Tony Todd with the Denver Center's Alexandra Griesmer.

     

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    Part of the new Denver Center interactive lobby display that promotes "Hamlet," "The Legend of Georgia McBride" and "black odyssey" simultaneously.

     

    imageVisit our blog, early and often! It's www.MyDenverCenter.Org.

     

    black odyssey: Information

  • Season announcements: Denver Center actors heading to Dillon

    by John Moore | Nov 04, 2013

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    Kim Staunton, who opens in "Sylvia" on Thursday at the Lone Tree Arts Center, and in the Denver Center's "black odyssey" on Jan. 10, will perform "The Mountaintop" with longtime fellow Denver Center actor Harvy Blanks next fall in Lake Dillon. The two are shown  here in "A Selfish Sacrifice" for the Denver Center in 2005.

    Three venerable local theater companies made their season announcements this week: the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Creede Repertory Theatre and Lake Dillon Theatre Company -- which will feature three Denver Center Theatre Company veterans in "The Mountaintop."

    In Boulder, the Colorado Shakespeare Festival fest announced that it will offer regular beer and wine sales next summer on the University of Colorado campus. And some play titles, too.

    In Creede, the 2014 summer slate includes new or newish plays by Michael Hollinger, David Ives and Joe DiPietro, along with the warhorse musical "Annie Get Your Gun."

    The Lake Dillon Theatre has announced eight titles for its 20th anniversary season ranging from the "Other Desert Cities" to "Ring of Fire" to "Orphans." Me? I can't wait to see how they pull off "Big River" in a 60-seat theatre.  The regional premiere of "The Mountaintop," Katori Hall's imagining of a hotel-room encounter between Dr. Martin Luther King and a feisty maid, will bring the Denver Center's Harvy Blanks and Kim Staunton to Dillon, along with director Charles Weldon. 

    Lake Dillon is also joining the ranks of Colorado theaters to have partial Equity status, which means it will be hiring at least a percentage of union actors and stage managers for every show.

    Here are the seasons at a glance. Click the links for more info on Colorado Shakes and Creede seasons.

    COLORADO SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL
    • “The Tempest”
    • “Henry IV, Part 1”
    • “Henry IV, Part 2”
    • “The Merry Wives of Windsor”
    • “I Hate Hamlet,” by Paul Rudnick
    Read more

    CREEDE REPERTORY THEATRE
    • “Annie Get Your Gun”
    • “The Liar,” by David Ives
    • “The Secret Affairs of Mildred Wild,” by Paul Zindel
    • “The Last Romance,” by Joe DiPietro
    • “Hope and Gravity,” by Michael Hollinger 
    • “Pants on Fire” (for children)
    • “Boomtown” (improv comedy)
    Read more

    LAKE DILLON THEATRE COMPANY
    • Jan. 17, 2013-Feb. 9, 2014: "Grace," by Craig Wright
    • Feb. 28-March 23, 2014: "Other Desert Cites," by Jon Rabin Bates
    • May 16-31, 2014: "Orphans," by Lyle Kessler
    • June 25-Aug. 8, 2014: "Big River," by Roger Miller
    • July 11-Aug. 17, 2014: "Sweet Charity," by Nail Simon
    • Aug. 29-Sept. 21, 2014: "Ring of Fire," by Richard Maltby, Jr.
    • Oct. 10-26, 2014: "The Mountaintop," by Katori Hall
    • Nov. 21-Dec. 23, 2014: "The 1940s Radio Hour," by Walton Jones
    Info: www.lakedillonfoundation.org

     Colorado theater schedules, however you like them:
    All currently running theater productions
    All theater listings by company
    All theater listings by opening date

  • Kim Staunton: Truth trumps race in 'Death of a Salesman'

    by John Moore | Sep 14, 2013

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    Kim Staunton, a 13-year veteran of the Denver Center Theatre Company, is currently playing Linda Loman opposite Charlie Robinson for the South Coast Repertory Theatre in California. Staunton soon will return to Denver to perform in "Sylvia" at the Lone Tree Arts Center, and then in the Denver Center's world premiere of Marcus Gardley's "black odyssey.' Photo by Debora Robinson/SCR.

     

    Kim Staunton is being celebrated in Costa Mesa Calif., for her portrayal of Linda Loman in the American theatre classic “Death of a Salesman” for the South Coast Repertory Theatre. And she credits, in part, her 13 years as a guest artist with the Denver Center Theatre Company.

    “I think all the work I have been allowed to do at the Denver Center really prepared me to play Linda Loman,” Staunton said Monday. “I am so proud of my time with the Denver Center that it makes me cry.”

    Not many black actors have been afforded the opportunity to play the iconic salesman’s wife. The one who by play’s end demands, “Attention must be paid!” to her dead relic of a husband, Willy. But Staunton’s long, lauded career has been marked by milestone performances that have ignored the color line.

    In 2004, Staunton was cast as Blanche in Israel Hicks’ all-black staging of “A Streetcar Named Desire” for the Denver Center Theatre Company. That was five years before the same approach was taken on Broadway. In 2005, Staunton starred as the Nora equivalent in the Denver Center Theatre Company’s world premiere of OyamO’s “A Selfish Sacrifice,” which imagined the caged wife in Henrik Ibsen's groundbreaking drama “A Doll's House” as a woman married to the Nigerian ambassador to the United Nations.

    Now Staunton is playing Linda Loman in California just as the Denver Center Theatre Company is preparing to open its 35th season with the same, 64-year-old Arthur Miller classic. Her director at South Coast, Marc Masterson, gave Staunton some fairly simple advice.

    “At the first rehearsal, he just said, ‘Tell the story as truthfully as you can, and no one will care what color you are,’ ” Staunton said.

    “I have been blessed throughout my career to work with people who have had the courage to say, ‘Let’s do something differently,” she added, referring, for starters, to Denver Center artistic directors Donovan Marley and Kent Thompson; the late Hicks, and Masterson.

    “I am so psyched for this opportunity to play Linda because this is just a human story, and it’s one that I can tell as well. It is an actor’s gift.”

    In Denver, the Lomans will be played by real-life married couple Mike Hartman and Lauren Klein, “and that could not be more perfect,” Staunton said. “I know it’s going to be beautiful.”

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    Kim Staunton as Mama Nadi in the Denver Center's acclaimed 2010 production of "Ruined."

    In Linda, Staunton sees a woman often portrayed as simpering, long-suffering and helpless. There’s far more to her in Staunton’s mind.

    “I think she is the emotional anchor of this family, and her commitment is engrossed in love and duty, which was very specific to most married women of that era,” Staunton said. “But it’s kind of tricky. On the other hand, she’s also an enabler. Some things she sees, and some things she chooses not to see. She’s not facing certain realities.

    “She certainly was not just a doting wife. I think there is real strength in her. There would have to be for her to balance this family and this man and his American Dream, which is falling apart. And yet, she is protective of Willy to the mountaintop."

    Staunton has explored the inequity of the America Dream at the Denver Center before in productions such as “A Raisin the Sun,” and, most recently, “Fences.” One of her most memorable other roles was in “Ruined” as Mama Nadi, who runs a brothel in a small mining town in Africa. In 2009, Staunton represented the Denver Center as a Lunt-Fontanne Fellow – that was an intensive, invited master class run by Lynn Redgrave in Wisconsin.

    Staunton soon will be returning to Denver for widely varying, back-to-back performances. She just signed on to play Kate -- the unamused, canine-challenged wife in A.R. Gurney’s comedy “Sylvia,” which runs from Nov. 7-17 at the Lone Tree Arts Center. That will be directed by a man with longstanding Denver Center connections of his own, Randal Myler (“Mama Hated Diesels,” “Fire on the Mountain,” “Almost Heaven”).

    Right after that, Staunton will be among the cast of the Denver Center Theatre Company’s world premiere staging of “black odyssey,” by rising playwright Marcus Gardley. It’s a play that recasts Homer’s Odysseus as a black soldier returning from a harrowing tour in the Gulf War. It plays from Jan. 17-Feb. 16. Staunton will play both Alsendra Sabine and Queen Mother in the play, which is still in development and has undergone major changes, she said, since it was read at the Colorado New Play Summit in February.

    “Above all else, I would say ‘black odyssey’ is a really intriguing journey,” said Staunton. “It’s a love story. It’s connected to the Greek story, and people will be able to relate to that. But Marcus also has a great way of creating the language of black people, and he tells the story so effortlessly. It resonates, and it’s funny, and it will leave you in tears.”

    Key dates for Kim Staunton:

    “Death of a Salesman”: Sept. 20-Oct. 20, Space Theatre, Denver Center Theatre Company (303-839-4100)

    “Sylvia”: Nov. 7-17, Lone Tree Arts Center (720) 509-1000)

    “black odyssey”: Jan. 17-Feb. 16, Space Theatre, Denver Center Theatre Company (303-839-4100)

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    ABOUT THE EDITOR
    John Moore
    John Moore
    Award-winning arts journalist John Moore has recently taken a groundbreaking new position as the DCPA’s Senior Arts Journalist. With The Denver Post, he was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the US by American Theatre Magazine. He is the founder of the Denver Actors Fund, a nonprofit that raises money for local artists in medical need. John is a native of Arvada and attended Regis Jesuit High School and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Follow him on Twitter @moorejohn.

    DCPA is the nation’s largest not-for-profit theatre organization dedicated to creating unforgettable shared experiences through beloved Broadway musicals, world-class plays, educational programs and inspired events. We think of theatre as a spark of life — a special occasion that’s exciting, powerful and fun. Join us today and we promise an experience you won't soon forget.