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Entries tagged with “UTP/Iowa”.


Okay, gang, the Urban Theater Project of Iowa production of David Lindsay-Abaire’s Rabbit Hole opens tomorrow night!

This thing won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and was nominated for a Tony. The New York Times called it “a wrenching new play,” and said, “the sad, sweet release of Rabbit Hole lies precisely in the access it allows to the pain of others, in its meticulously mapped empathy.” The review ends with, “Jokes and cute anecdotes only wound; kindly advice is received as if it were a slap in the face. Family conversations are shaped by a spastic pattern of recrimination and apology, of irritation and misdirected comfort.”

This is the best new script I have read. And, if you follow my blog, you may have read in my post for August 5th, “Rabbit Hole,” how important this experience has been for me.

I’m loving finally acting with one of my good friends, a joy in itself. But the other actors that people this family and the seminal event in their lives really makes this something to see. It’s difficult for me not to watch my acting partners work. I need to force myself away from the set to prepare for next scenes. That is always a good thing.

As per UTP/Iowa’s mandate, we are in a non-theatrical space. It’s gorgeous. Locally known as the Cook House, we are in the brick mansion, just off the Brucemore property: 222 Crescent Street SE.

This brings me to an important topic. Yes: the thing has been made into a movie — a good one, as I hear, though I have been waiting to watch it until after our run. But it’s a movie. And a play is much, much different. And with our beautiful venue, a person in the first row of the audience is so close they could reach out and touch the actors. This closeness affords actors the ability and the opportunity to create a performance that is closer to themselves, more open, more vulnerable. It is a rare treat for both actors and audience.

Finally, again with the UTP/Iowa mandate, each night there are only 30 seats available. Urban Theater is all about presenting powerful shows in non-theatrical venues for small audiences at a reasonable price ($10 tickets) . This one really fits the bill. And to top it off, it puts two actors, Leslie Charipar and I — who are usually directors — into roles they might not normally perform.

I really hope you can come see it. I am as proud of my work in this show as I have ever been.

To reserve seats (remember the limited seating) call 319-431-2110.

Shows run from August 18-20 and 25-27.

Show begins at 8:00, but there is mansion open house that begins at 7:00.

This has been a great summer for me. I had a second son born to me, I got one spiritual fix from the play at Brucemore —a fix much like walking into a cathedral, a physically numinous experience— and now I am getting my second spiritual fix — this one less physical, more of a psychical numinosum.

Urban Theater Project of Iowa —of which I am a member — is mounting David Lindsay-Abaire’s Rabbit Hole. Yes, it is a movie. But before that it was a Pulitzer Prize winning stage play.

I actually suggested we do this play — for a couple of reasons — and I was really excited when the company members went for it. It is perhaps the best contemporary play I have read in years, in staging, plot, character and dialogue. And I desperately wanted to play Howie, the father.

I’ve always felt that people view me as a comedic actor, probably because that’s how I view myself. I love comedy and think I do comedy pretty well. But there are a handful of straight roles that I have always wanted: Horatio (for which I am too old), Richard III (which is a tough production to get mounted), and Tom Robinson from Mockingbird (which…well, I guess you can probably figure that problem out on your own).

I read a review of the play Rabbit Hole and within about five minutes had ordered the script. When I read it I knew that I had to play Howie. The problem: I’m not a leading man type of guy. Granted, Howie is not really a romantic lead, he is much more developed and rich than just that. But if I were to audition for this play, no one would take a second look at me for that role. It’s just how the industry is.

Howie is thinner, taller, handsomer, and well-dress…eder. I am none of those. Nor am I a financial advisor. In fact, when I talk with our family financial advisor I always come armed with my anxiety meds. It helps to keep the stress-induced rash at bay.

But he’s also funny, sensitive, caring, hopeful, and he forgets to feed the dog. Essentially, he’s me…if I turned out to be a thin, tall, handsome, well-dressed financial advisor.

That’s one of the reasons I love Urban Theater. We get to do the kinds of shows we want to do. And you know what, there are a lot of Howies out there that aren’t thin, tall or handsome. I’m a little tired of the chiseled chins and wry grins that we see in film.

The other reason I really wanted to do this show is rooted in my spiritual belief in theatre. Aristotle wrote of catharsis, which was the idea that if people go see tragedy, they live vicariously through the specific destruction of the play’s main character. This act releases the viewer of their stresses and fears, specifically in line with the character’s hamartia, their fatal flaw.

As I said earlier, Howie is much like me. He and his wife Becca lose their four year-old son in an auto accident, and it has done a number on their marriage. I think I would react much as Howie has. He is particularly close to me.

My wife has gone on record saying that she will simply not be able to watch this show. She is so scared of this show that she won’t run lines with me, which is a first. I get it. I understand where she is coming from on this one. And I totally respect her position.

But for me, acting in this show is like washing in the Ganges. It is a spiritual restorative. I am living the sadder alternate life in the show, much like the universal rabbit holes discussed in the play. This play life is the sadder life of loss, so my real life can break free of that disastrous possibility.

It’s getting me cleaner with each rehearsal. I can’t wait for people to see it.