BELFAST – Midcoast Maine will get a chance to experience a currently running Broadway show when Midcoast Actors’ Studio presents the play Skylight, May 15-31 at the Court Street Theater in Belfast.
Jason Bannister, Crys Bruschi and Owen Scoville star in the highly anticipated MAS production of David Hare’s 1995 Tony Award-nominated classic, also directed by Bannister. Skylight is assistant directed and stage managed by Leah Elizabeth Darcy.
East London school teacher Kyra Hollis (Bruschi) is visited on the same night by Edward Sargeant (Scoville) and, later, his father Tom Sargeant (Bannister). Kyra had been living with the Sargeant family years earlier but left after her affair with Tom was discovered by Tom’s wife, who has since died. Edward now accuses Kyra of having left him as well, as he saw her as a big sister, and he demands to know why she left his life.
Shortly thereafter, Tom, a wealthy restaurateur, appears unheralded and for no apparent reason. Kyra’s less-than-glamorous lifestyle leads him to poke fun at her to the point of insult, accusing her of self-punishment. After Kyra cooks a spaghetti dinner (which the actress cooks on stage), the talk turns to their relationship, and it becomes clear that their chances to be rekindled rest on whether one of them can change preconceived notions of the other.
Skylight was originally produced at the National Theatre in 1995, before transferring to the West End and Broadway. It won the Olivier Award for Best Play, as well receiving four Tony nods. The current Broadway revival stars Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan. The Midcoast Actors’ and Broadway productions are the only two currently in the U.S., and they happen to be running simultaneously.
Bannister performed in Skylight as the younger character, Edward, 15 years ago in Portland and is now coming full circle playing the father. “It’s one of my favorite plays,” says Bannister, “I concur with Bill Nighy, who’s currently playing the same role as me on Broadway: ‘It unlocks something universal… it brings hope, it’s uplifting…(Skylight) is one of the greatest plays in the English language… you get to laugh and nobody suffers’.”
John Beilenberg, Greg Marsanskis and Brian Ross have collaborated on the unique arena theater set design. Jay Rosenberg is the light and sound designer. Assistant stage manager is Cameron Pillitteri. Ivy Lobato handles the props.
Midcoast Actors’ Studio is excited to perform at the newly named Court Street Theater in Belfast, Maine. Bannister, MAS Artistic Director, has worked with the owner of the old Universalist Church building to create a unique theater-in-the-round set-up for the show. The space is intimate and charming – perfect for the style of theater MAS brings to Belfast.
“It’s high time the city had a dedicated theater space again,” says Bannister. “We’re honored to be able to make that happen.”
Skylight runs May 15-31 at The Court Street Theater, 17 Court Street Belfast (corner of Spring St. and Court St.). Friday and Saturday performances are at 7:30 p.m., Sunday matinees at 4:00 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for students and those over 65. On opening night there will be a 2 for 1 ticket special. For tickets and further details call the box office at 370-7592, firstname.lastname@example.org
True Stories From Local Luminaries
BELFAST – On April 25, 7 P.M., in the Waterfall Arts intimate basement “Fallout Shelter” performance space, a group of Midcoast Maine raconteurs will assemble to regale the audience with lively tales from their own lives.
Nobody can say when the first story was told, as it predates history, but stories are, of course, an intrinsic part of the human experience. Virtually all media is, at its core, based on storytelling. This particular brand of live, first-person, storytelling from personal experience has recently seen a huge surge in popularity.
Peoples’ stories are compelling and this evening will be no exception. Currently slated are: John Ford Sr., Aynne Ames, Andy O’Brien, Charlie Dufour, Jennifer Tibbetts, Kristen Burkholder, and G.W. Martin. The stories will not be screened beforehand so please be advised that some of the language may be a bit colorful, and material may not be suitable for children or the weak of heart.
Organizers ask for a ten dollar donation to support Midcoast Actors’ Studio’s 2015 season. Founded in 2011, the mission of the Midcoast Actors’ Studio is to foster an environment for artists to imagine and grow freely, create quality intimate theatre, and inspire the community. Their next full production will be David Hare’s “Skylight”, May 15-31 at the newly-christened Court Street Theater at 17 Court Street.
The opening weekend’s audience for Midcoast Actors’ Studio‘s “Venus in Fur” has spoken! Here’s what they have to say…
From Arielle Greenberg- “Energetic, dynamic, funny performances from the two actors fuel a riveting evening. I’d also say that it’s hard to take one’s eyes of the lead actress. She’s got so much charisma. Plus, she’s got a rockin’ bod in hot lingerie. But I don’t know if you should quote me on the last part. Maybe you should. Not sure.”
From George Soctomah Neptune- “I was worried about the subject matter and its potential to perpetuate unhealthy portrayals of BDSM relationship, but that concern had dissipated by the end of the show. I thought Tyler, the male lead, played his character well – I was definitely ready to tie him up afterwards.”
Come see Johannah Blackman and Tyler Johnstone in “Venus in Fur”, Friday, February 20th through Sunday March 1st.
Local actors burning up Belfast in the coldest month of the year!
BELFAST – Midcoast Actors’ Studio announces its first production of the 2015 Season, Venus in Fur, February 13 – March 1st at The Playhouse, Church Street in Belfast.
Venus in Fur focuses on Thomas Novachek (Tyler Johnstone), the writer-director of a new play opening in New York City. This play-within-a-play is an adaptation of the 1870 novel Venus in Furs by the Austrian author Leopold von Sacher-Masoch and happens to be the novel that inspired the term Masochism. The play begins with Novachek on the telephone lamenting the inadequacies of the actresses who have showed up that day to audition for the lead character, Wanda von Dunayev. Suddenly, at the last minute, a new actress, Vanda Jordan (Johannah Blackman), bursts in. At first it’s hard to imagine that she will please this very particular and exasperated writer/director: She’s brash, vulgar and unschooled. But she convinces him to let her audition for the part of Wanda, with the director/writer reading the part of Severin von Kushemski. Much happens during this dynamic reading, as lightning flashes and thunder crashes outside, with a highly emotional, erotically-charged script adapted from one of the raciest novels of the 19th century. They talk, plead, argue, caress and more.
“When I read the play, I realized that it took the battle of the sexes to a whole new level,” says director Robin Jones.
“It was the most provocative Twilight Zone episode that Rod Serling never did and it was the exact opposite (two people, one simple set, one act) of, yet just as challenging than, my previous production for MAS, August: Osage County (13 characters, 3-story set, 3 acts). Yet, just as before, cast and crew have brought about a story from which you can’t look away. The production is being hailed as “The Hottest Thing in the Coldest Month”. Costumes are being provided by City Drawers and Man on Main with special participation from The Gothic. Midcoast Actors’ Studio Founder and Artistic Director Jason Bannister is excited about Venus and the upcoming 2015 season.
“Venus is a great, provocative play to open our 4th season. We are stepping up our game this year, with three weeks of performances for each production, rather than our usual two. This will allow audiences more opportunity to see our cutting edge work. In the past word, by the time word got out of our shows, it was too late for people to see them. Now theater-goers along midcoast Maine have 9 performances to choose from.”
Midcoast Actors’ Studio’s Eastern Maine premiere of David Ives’ “Venus in Fur” will be performed February 13 – March 1st at The Playhouse 107 Main St. in Belfast. Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday Matinees at 5:00 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for those over 65. This production is intended for mature audiences only and limited seating is available. For tickets call the box office at 370-7592, email email@example.com, visit midcoastactors.org or like them on Facebook.
Photo: Vanda Jordan (Johannah Blackman) and Thomas Novachek (Tyler Johnstone). Photo courtesy of Leah Elizabeth Darcy.
Midcoast Actors’ Studio has begun making solid stakes in the Belfast arts community. After three seasons of ground-breaking productions, Artistic Director Jason Bannister feels confident that 2015 will be a banner year for the theater company.
“MAS has taken center stage,” says Bannister, referring to the success of Midcoast Actors’ Studio in the theater arts community of midcoast Maine. Bannister has been ambitious and bold in choosing a full, year-round season of four productions for 2015. They include Venus in Fur in February, Skylight in May, The Servant of Two Masters in September, and Good People in December.
MAS’s first production is David Ives’ Venus in Fur. Thomas (Tyler Johnstone), a beleaguered playwright/director, is desperate to find an actress to play Vanda, the female lead in his adaptation of the classic sadomasochistic tale Venus in Fur. Into his empty audition room walks a vulgar and equally desperate actress—oddly enough, named Vanda (Johannah Blackman). Though utterly wrong for the sophisticated part, Vanda exhibits a strange command of the material, piquing Thomas’ interest with her seductive talents and secretive manner. As the two work through the script, they blur the line between play and reality, entering into an increasingly serious game of submission and domination that only one of them can win. A mysterious, funny, erotic drama that represents yet another departure for the multifaceted David Ives. Venus in Fur is directed by Robin Jones and runs February 13 – March 1 at the Playhouse on Church Street in Belfast.
Skylight, is written by David Hare. On a bitterly cold London evening, schoolteacher Kyra Hollis (Crys Bruschi) receives an unexpected visit from her former lover, Tom Sergeant (James Clayton), a successful and charismatic restaurateur whose wife has recently died. As the evening progresses, the two attempt to rekindle their once passionate relationship only to find themselves locked in a dangerous battle of opposing ideologies and mutual desires. It also stars Owen Scoville as Tom’s son, Edward. Skylight was originally produced at the National Theatre in 1995, before transferring to the West End and Broadway, won an Olivier Award for Best Play and was Tony nominated for best play, actress, actor, and director. It is directed by Jason Bannister and runs May 15-31 in Belfast.
The Servant of Two Masters, written by Carlo Goldoni in 1743 and adapted by Constance Congdon, is a comical blend of the Italian classic Commedia dell’arte and contemporary performance styles that tells the story of the outrageous and wily servant, Truffaldino (Bannister), who secretly signs on with two masters simultaneously. Complete with masks and slapstick comedy, this is a show that aims to please. Also starring Nicole Provonsil, Leah Darcy, Jay Rosenberg, Tyler Johnstone, Sonia Vazquez, Robert Daisey, Jen Wendell, Patricia and Latricia Saucier. Directed by John Potter, the Maine Premiere of this play runs September 11-27.
The final production of 2015 is David Lindsay-Abaire’s Good People. Tony nominated for best play in 2011 and winning best actress (Frances McDormand), Good People “is that rare play that is both timeless and completely keyed into a specific moment in American life—without the need to grasp for topicality. Bringing the same clear-eyed emotional observation that distinguished his Pulitzer winner, Rabbit Hole, Lindsay-Abaire has crafted another penetrating drama about deeply relatable issues, albeit this time with more warming doses of humor.” (Hollywood Reporter) Robin Jones directs this show that runs December 4 -20.
In addition to the four mainstage productions MAS is planning some additional fundraising events. One of which is True Stories, where people will share their storytelling abilities in a relaxed intimate setting at Waterfall Arts on Saturday, April 25 at 7:00. They are also planning a live old time radio play in the summer. Stay tuned for additional fundraising events and stage readings.
Tickets for all shows are $15 for adults and $12 for seniors/students. For more information about Midcoast Actors’ Studio, the 2015 season and tickets, as well as how you can become a supporter, call the box office at 207-370-7592, email firstname.lastname@example.org, visit midcoastactors.org or on Facebook.