The Olney Theatre Center for the Arts has been celebrating "Global Voices" during its third annual Potomac Theatre Festival, July 11-Aug. 13. Four of the five shows comprising Festival 2000 -- a culturally diverse, melting pot of productions -- have been performed on Olney Theatre's pastoral grounds in Olney, Maryland.
On the main stage is Sueno, Jose Rivera's adaptation of the 17th century Spanish classic, Life is a Dream, by Pedro Calderon de la Barca. Superstitious King Basilio (Mitchell Hebert), fearful that his son, son, Prince Sigismundo (Daniel Luna) was born under ill-fated stars, has imprisoned him well into his twenties. When the Prince becomes King for one anarchic day, the regal conspirator and his cohorts must examine their morality. Or is life really a dream?
"Sueno" is directed by Jose Carrasquillo. The cast features Hebert, Michael W. Howell, Christopher Lane, Paul McWhorter, Desiree Marie, Vera Soltero, Christopher Walker, and James Washington. Production staff includes Tony Cisek (Set), Ayun Fedorcha (Lights), Ron Oshima and Brian Nelson (Sound), and Alessandra D'Ovidic (Costumes).
Sueno began performances July 11 and runs to Aug. 13, with tickets $15.00-$32.00. For information, call (301) 924-3400. Olney Theatre is located at 2001 Olney Sandy Spring Road.
Earlier in the Fest, Cheryl Faraone, Co-Director of the Potomac Theatre Project (PTP), an alternative theatre in residence, directed Tom Stoppard's Arcadia in the Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab.
PTP began its association in 1977 as the New York Theatre Studio, a peripatetic off-off Broadway company, which, until 1985, produced in such locations as the Hotel Ansonia on the Upper West Side. Addressing a need for political theatre in the nation's capitol, Co-Artistic Directors Cheryl Faraone, Richard Romagnoli, and Jim Petosa (also Artistic Director of Olney Theatre) relocated their company in 1987. Producing primarily in an intimate space in the Hall of Nations in Georgetown (Washington, D.C.), they gradually built a devoted audience for their aggressive theatre designed to "illuminate the nightmares and hoaxes by which we live." In keeping with this mandate, Festival 2000 also included two works by British playwright Steven Dykes, directed as workshops by Nesta Jones, Artistic Director of New Cross Theatre (NXT) in London.
Both Faraone and Romagnoli are professors in the theatre department at Vermont's Middlebury College. Since PTP's founding, the College has provided substantial financial support for the summer repertories in exchange for the opportunity for undergraduate theatre students to participate as cast, technical crew, and administrative staff.
The Festival expanded into Washington, D.C., with a first-time co production with Theatre J of Donald Marguiles' Collected Stories, running July 9-Aug. 13. Petosa directs Halo Wines as Ruth Steiner, a famous short-story writer and teacher who is betrayed by Lisa Morrison, a beloved protégée, played by Carolyn Pasquantonio. Ari Roth, Artistic Director of Theatre J, said, "There is a natural kinship between PTP and Theatre J. Both theatres tackle plays of substance and marry them to their mission. In addition to cross-promoting and marketing, it will be interesting to see if we exchange audiences." Like PTP, Theatre J will offer symposia related to the Festival, including a three-part series on "Mentors and Protégées: Discussions with Women," featuring prominent clergy, playwrights, and novelists.
Theatre J performs in the Cecile Goldman Theatre at the Jewish Community Center, 1529 16th Street, N.W. Tickets to Collected Stories are $15.00-$27.00. Call 1-800-494-TIXS.
-- by Barbara Gross