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Posts Tagged ‘concord players’

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Photo: Rik Pierce/Concord Players
The 2002 cast of Little Women at the Concord Players. Katie Lynch, standing, played Jo (the author’s alter ego). Jan Turnquist, front left, is in real life the director of Louisa May Alcott’s home, Orchard House, in Concord, Massachusetts.

In the town where I have lived nearly four decades, we get a lot of tourists. One of the main attractions is the home of the Little Women author, Louisa May Alcott. Her book remains popular worldwide. Many movie adaptations have been made. I have friends from Japan who were beyond thrilled to see Alcott’s home because of a popular Japanese television series. And at the theater that Alcott helped to set up, Little Women productions have been staged every ten years for generations. I even helped to cast one production.

Needless to say, I couldn’t resist Hillel Italie’s recent story for the Associated Press about an unfinished bit of Alcott juvenalia.

The current issue of Strand Magazine will give readers the chance to discover an obscure and unfinished Louisa May Alcott work of fiction, and to provide a conclusion themselves.

“Alcott’s ‘Aunt Nellie’s Diary’ has rarely been seen since she drafted what may have been a novel or novella, and set it aside, as a teenager in the late 1840s. The 9,000 word fragment is narrated by the 40-year-old title character, and follows her observations as a romantic triangle appears to unfold among her orphaned, fair-haired niece Annie Ellerton, Annie’s dark-haired friend Isabel Loving and the visiting Edward Clifford, ‘a tall, noble-looking’ young man with a complicated past.

Strand managing editor Andrew Gulli found a reference to the manuscript during an online search of Alcott’s archives, stored at Harvard University’s Houghton Library. ‘Aunt Nellie’s Diary’ appears in the Strand’s spring issue, delayed until now because of the coronavirus. …

“ ‘What struck me was the maturity of the work,’ says Gulli … ‘Here was Alcott, who was on the cusp of adulthood, creating a complex work, where her main character is a single woman in her 40s, who defies many of the stereotypes of how women were portrayed in mid-19th century America.

“Because ‘Aunt Nellie’s Diary’ ends with various storylines unresolved, Gulli is inviting readers to complete the narrative. ‘…

“Alcott scholar Daniel Shealy says that ‘Aunt Nellie’s Diary’ reflects what the author called her sentimental phase, her early immersion in such British authors as Charles Dickens and Sir Walter Scott.

“ ‘You can see her picking up on some of the romanticized, even sensationalized material from those books. It’s a tough time for her, because the family was short of money, but it’s also a creative time. She’s beginning to develop and mature as a writer,’ says Shealy, a professor of English at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.

“ ‘If I had to compare this to Little Women, I’d say that you can see her ability to create characters that you can take an interest in. And you see her ability to have several strands of the story going off in different directions, and you’re wondering how she going to tie this all together. Clearly, this story is building to a big reveal, and we’re going to learn new things about the characters’ pasts.’ ”

That is, we are going to learn things from Strand readers who send in the best endings. Maybe you.

More at Yahoo, here.

How Louisa has been adapting.

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I love reading about and sometimes seeing offbeat and experimental theater. You may recall a couple recent posts on Iranian productions, for example — one play performed in a taxi, and another featuring a script the actors aren’t allowed to see until it’s time to go on stage.

So I was intrigued by a story in the Guardian about an experiment with one-on-one productions. Lyn Gardner writes, “Earlier this year I was lucky enough to take part in Whispers, a project created by the Exeter-based Kaleider, that takes the form of a co-operative gifting chain of performance, as a story and a metal tablet pass from person to person who each take responsibility for passing it on.

“At the Brighton fringe something similar is taking place with Host, a project created by the Nightingale Theatre that takes place in one of two bathing huts. Taking the form of a short text written by Tim Crouch … it works like this: You enter the bathing hut and somebody performs the text to you, and then you perform the text – reading from the script – to the next person.

“All participants subsequently get sent a copy of the script via email. This means that they can set off their own chains of reading and receiving, which creates in effect a tree that then has branches going off from it but which are all traceable back to that first performance by Tim Crouch in Brighton. It’s like a baton being passed.” More here.

This week, I’m having dinner with three other women who have at various times been active in the Concord Players. We meet up a couple times a year to indulge in theater talk as most of our other friends are not into that. I’ll be sure to pass along some of these experiments. The Concord Players isn’t a place that indulges in avant garde, but we all like hearing about what’s going on in the wider world.

“Host,” a one-on-one play at the Brighton Fringe Festival in England, is performed in this bathing hut.

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Wow, what an awesome job the Concord Players did with this goofy musical by the folks who brought you Monty Python!

Spamalot had so many insane costume changes, extravagant production numbers, and giddy jokes that it never allowed you a minute to think how silly it all is.

We laughed a lot. They say laughing is good for your health, and I can see why it is good for mental health at least — when you are really laughing, you can’t think about anything but the thing that is making you laugh. So you’re really “living in the moment,” as the gurus advise.

Tom was one of the trumpet players (not the one who gets shot by the conductor for playing the wrong trumpet themes in the overture), and Claire gave a party after the matinee. Wisely, she decided not to emphasize Spam for the meal (“No one would have come to the party,” she said) and instead presented a delicious spread with a Cinco de Mayo theme.

Several guests cracked out their smart phones to inform us about what Cinco de Mayo celebrates (the 1862 defeat of the French by Mexicans at Pueblo — not sure I feel much wiser, though).

Spamalot is sold out. But it was sold out today, too, and I saw a few empty seats, so take a chance — maybe a ticket holder won’t show up. The woman next to me was offended by some of the naughtiness and irreverence and left at intermission. So you could always come for the second half.

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street-piano-promotes-les-mizSunday I went to a local production of the musical Les Misérables. I was one of the few people in America, I think, who had never seen it in any form, and I thought it was time. Besides, I had put an ad in the season program for Suzanne’s company, Luna & Stella, and wanted to pick up a couple copies.

Hard to imagine the Concord Players is only an amateur theater. They did a great job. And I guess the word has gotten around because they are sold out for the run.

I don’t love the story (having overdosed on French revolutions of all periods after reading A Tale of Two Cities once too often), and I think the dialogue in the musical is clunky. But I loved the performances and many of the songs, and I admired all the things that go into a good production — sets, costumes, sound, lighting, orchestra. The Concord Players are well known in the Greater Boston area for their production values, and they draw talent from all over.

Good job, Guys!

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The Concord Players brought a one-hour version of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” to the lawn of the library yesterday.

The Prospero was perhaps too young, considering that “The Tempest” is an aging Shakespeare’s valedictory, and there was some awkward overacting, but gee whiz, they had to shout to be heard outdoors. So, good for them to work so hard to give the public free theater in summer!

Several sea nymphs doubled as ushers and were lovely to behold.

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Twenty years ago I helped out on what local people jokingly refer to as the Concord Passion Play: Little Women. It’s performed every 10 years by the Concord Players because (a) author Louisa May Alcott lived at Orchard House in Concord and (b) she was a founder of the theater group that became the Concord Players.

Kate Clarke is directing the show this year, and she just got some great publicity in the Boston Globe.

“ ‘Preparing to direct the play, I started to do some research and was fascinated to discover just how meaningful the book is to so many people,’ Clarke said.

“ ‘Even the rock star Patti Smith wrote in her recent memoir that “Little Women” was what made her feel as a young high school student that she could be an artist. It motivated her to go to New York and become a performer. I started thinking, “Good Lord, Jo March is everywhere! Why do people find her so compelling?”

“ ‘That’s the question I’ve been tackling with this group of actors. Yes, it’s about the Civil War era, and the societal restrictions that females were under at that time. But the fact that the book’s popularity has endured reflects what compelling characters these young women were.

“ ‘This story is so uniquely Concord and yet reaches far beyond the boundaries of Concord, just as it is a story about the 1860s that also brings up a lot of contemporary issues,’ Clarke said.” Read more.

Here’s photo by Jon Chase for the Boston Globe. Pat Kane, an incredible costume designer, is in the middle. (I don’t think she remembers, but the first time she worked for the Concord Players was when I sought her help on a one-act I directed, Stoppard’s After Magritte.)

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