John Hauser as Romeo. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.
2015 TRUE WEST AWARDS: 30 DAYS, 30 BOUQUETS
Today’s recipient: Rosaline the 1980 Ford F-250 Farm Truck
DCPA Education's 'Shakespeare in the Parking Lot'
Today’s presenter: 2014 True West Award Winner Kate Gleason
Kate Gleason, today’s True West Awards Guest Picker, fell hard this year for a performer that was regularly climbed on and trampled in plain sight of nearly 5,000 students who had the temerity to cheer as the poor thing was being beaten by a crowbar.
What can she say? Gleason has a soft spot for underdogs.
To clarify: Today’s honoree is a 1980 Ford F-250 farm truck. And her assailants – the actors who perform an abridged version of Romeo & Juliet in, on and around her - call her Rosaline. In Shakespeare's play, Rosaline is the jilted girl Romeo leaves in the dust the second he spies Juliet and ogles her as if she were a 2016 Ram 1500. In school parking lots all over the state, Rosaline is the Denver Center’s new “Theatre Truck,” the central player in DCPA Education's brand-new "Shakespeare in the Parking Lot" program.
Gleason, who parlayed her award-winning performance as a beaten ex-wife in Annapurna for the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company into a gig playing the same role in Vienna this year, is just a sucker for a big ol’ truck.
“But a Shakespearean truck? That transports the world of Verona to area schools? And serves as the central set design? Forget about it,” she said. “That is some serious talent.”
Video, photos: Our full report on 'Shakespeare in the Parking Lot'
DCPA Education Technical Director Stuart Barr found the beaten beater on Craig’s List and bought it for $650 from a seller who was using it as a farm truck near Johnstown.
“Shakespeare in the Parking Lot,” the brainchild of DCPA Education Director Allison Watrous, takes Shakespeare’s most accessible love story out of the classroom and onto the asphalt. Rosaline no longer has her own engine, so this fall she has been hauled to 17 high schools, middle schools and colleges. Once there, a dream team of six DCPA Teaching Artists - John Hauser, Jenna Moll Reyes, Erin Willis, Jessica Austgen, Justin Walvoord and Jacques Morrow - perform a shortened, spare version of Romeo & Juliet
that runs about as long as your average algebra class.
"It makes the play action-packed because people can really hit that truck with blunt force," Watrous said. Because it's not like it will ever be road-ready again. Christine, Rosaline is not.
After performing the play in the cold or heat as many as four times for different classes, the actors go back to school the next day and introduce students to companion curriculum that relates both to the play and their everyday lives. They ask the students tough, ethically ambiguous hypothetical questions that revolve around teenagers, their parents and issues of privacy and personal responsibility. Such as: “It is true that your parent or caregiver has the right to know your whereabouts at all times?” At first, the students might not know the whole point is to help them better understand the issues at the heart of Shakespeare's play, and how closely they relate to issues that might be troubling them in their real lives. Eventually, they get it.
The "Shakespeare in the Parking Lot" team also includes Classroom Curriculum Directors Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski and Geoffrey Kent (also Fight Director); Set Designer Nick Renaud; Costume Designer Meghan Anderson-Doyle; Sound Designer Frank Haas; with a live accompanying score by Noah Wilson. The sound technician was Max McEwen.
The program is partially funded by sponsorships from the Anadarko Petroleum Corporation and Innovate for Good, grant program of the Rose Community Foundation. Note: Today's Guest Picker, Kate Gleason, is a member of the DCPA Education acting faculty, but she is not directly involved with the Shakespeare in the Parking Lot program.
Video by John Moore and David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.
ABOUT THE TRUE WEST AWARDS
The True West Awards began as the Denver Post Ovation Awards in 2001. This year, DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore — along with additional voices from around the state — celebrate the entire local theatre community by recognizing 30 achievements from around the state over 30 days, without categories or nominations. Moore's daily coverage of the DCPA and the Colorado theatre community can be found at MyDenverCenter.Org THE 2015 TRUE WEST AWARDS
Day 1: Rachel D. Graham
Day 2: BALLS! A Holiday Spectacular
Day 3: Creede Repertory Theatre's
50th anniversary season
Day 4: Laurence Curry
Day 5: Bernie Cardell
Day 6: Susan Lyles
Day 7: John Jurcheck
Day 8: Christopher L. Sheley
Day 9: DCPA Education's 'Shakespeare in the Parking Lot'
Day 10: Man and Monster: Todd Debreceni and TJ Hogle
Day 11: Shauna Johnson
Day 12: Geoffrey Kent and Benjamin Bonenfant
Day 13: Sesugh Solomon Tor-Agbidye
Day 14: Keith Ewer
Day 15: Allison Watrous
Day 16: Jonathan Farwell
Day 17: Bob, Wendy and Missy Moore
Day 18: Emma Messenger
Day 19: Shannon McKinney
Day 20: Mary Louise Lee and Yasmine Hunter
Day 21: Charlie Miller and Emily Tarquin
Day 22: Scott Beyette
Day 23: Augustus Truhn
Day 24: Jimmy Bruenger
Day 25: The Masters of Props: Rob Costigan, Peki Pineda and Becky Toma
Day 26: Jalyn Courtenay Webb
Day 27: Andre Rodriguez
Day 28: Rebecca Remaly
Day 29: Mark Collins
Day 30: Phamaly Theatre Company's Cabaret
Bonus: Donald R. Seawell
Jessica Austgen performs (well, dies) as Tybalt in the back of the fancy truck DCPA Education originally borrowed from crewmember Tyler Stauffer for the pilot program last spring. 'Shakespeare in the Parking Lot' now performs in, on and around Rosaline, a 1980 Ford F-250 Farm Truck. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.