Monday, August 24, 2015

"A Peculiar Crossroads: A Celebration of the Life and Art of Flannery O'Connor at Silver Meteor.

[A contribution to Art Taco from correspondent at large, Lydia Gottardi]

A Peculiar Crossroads: A Celebration of the Life of Flannery O'Connor"
Silver Meteor Gallery 8/23/15

Silver Meteor Gallery, an art venue/black box theatre, is a tiny bright star in the local theater firmament. It's latest production, "A Peculiar Crossroads: A Celebration of the Life and Art of Flannery O'Connor" is an entertaining and interesting short play, that shows us how the most memorable art often does more with less. This is a one-act, one-actor play brought to life by Betty-Jane Parks in a set suggesting the sparse furnishings of the farmhouse where the author spends most of her brief yet amazingly-productive life writing 2 novels and the many short works for which she is known and beloved. The audience follows the author as she moves from scene to scene, memory to memory, pausing to reflect on the writing life, the life of the artist, depicting with complete naturalness all the wit, spirit, sensitivity, and Southern charm of one of our most enduring writers. This theatrical experience is simultaneously stark and dense..shining forth with dialogue culled directly from Flannery O'Connor's own speeches and letters seamlessly woven into a portrait of a woman whose theology stands firmly behind a loving yet unblinking gaze at human imperfections within a modern mystery play, balanced with homespun humor between the light and dark of her moral universe.

This play will appeal to anyone interested in knowing more about 19th century American literature,  the history of the Southern Gothic genre,  and who loves thought-provoking monologue, intimate small theatre, and chickens (yes, chickens!), told first person in the writer's own wry yet gentle words, a behind-the-scenes look at the writing life.

Betty-Jean Parks conjures with uncanny veracity the form, personality, and charm of a writer as colorful and memorable as her creations.
Landon Green, in his directing debut, presents an experience that is taut yet smooth from beginning to end.

Producer Michael Murphy creates a linear set that takes the audience to spotlighted  niches that act like paragraphs for the monologue, creating separate yet contiguous scenes for each memory-experience in the author's life, kept lively through the variety of placement and alternately addressing an audience that is both real and off stage. This becomes an effective device in dissolving the traditional separation between audience and stage and is a unique and gratifying experience.

Altogether, this short play is as remarkable an experience as the woman it depicts: large in prosaic beauty, philosophy, practical advice for writers, and a glimpse into the dedicated life of an artist in a most balanced and refined collaboration between playwright, director, actor, and producer, a treat not only for Flannery O'Connor fans, but also for those interested in creative theatre production.

But wait! There's more....

After a brief intermission, the play is followed by a hilarious 1 minute newsreel from the author's life and then a 26-minute vintage television production of one of Flannery O'Connor's short stories starring Agnes Moorehead and a debut for a very young Gene Kelly!  Sticking around for this is highly recommended to fill out the night (ask and Michael Murphy might tell you about the nonHollywood ending of the story).

Lydia Gottardi

August 13-30, 2015.
Thursday and Sunday @7PM
Friday and Saturday @8PM

Personal Note: I saw this play, and agree with Lydia"s review. See this! It's wonderful.

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