MD's Potomac Theatre Fest Hears "Global Voices," July 11-Aug. 13

News   MD's Potomac Theatre Fest Hears "Global Voices," July 11-Aug. 13 The Olney Theatre Center for the Arts will celebrate "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 -- will be performed on Olney Theatre's pastoral grounds in Olney, Maryland.

The Olney Theatre Center for the Arts will celebrate "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 -- will be performed on Olney Theatre's pastoral grounds in Olney, Maryland.

First up 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 runs July 11-Aug. 13, with tickets $15.00-$32.00. For information, call (301) 924-3400. Olney Theatre is located at 2001 Olney Sandy Spring Road.

Cheryl Faraone, Co-Director of the Potomac Theatre Project (PTP), an alternative theatre in residence, directs Tom Stoppard's Arcadia in the Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab. "A recurring theme of Arcadia is that we exist through our connections with other people, regardless of era," which expands the concept of universal voices, said Faraone.

Olney Theatre's cast includes Anna Belknap as Lady Thomasina Coverly, the young 19th century math prodigy, whose intelligence is appreciated by her tutor, Septimus Hodge (Andrew William Smith). Nearly 200 years later, in the same room in the Coverly's estate, Hannah Jarvis (Julie-Ann Elliott) and Bernard Nightingale (James Matthew Ryan), scholars of the romantic period, uncover in their exploration of a rumored visit to the manor of Lord Byron, fragments of the story of Thomasina and her tutor. The cast includes James O. Dunn, Sam Elmore, David Bryan Jackson, Katherine Miles, Tyson Lien, Mary Ellen Nester, Stephen Schmidt, and James Slaughter. Production staff includes Mark Evancho (Set), Thomas F. Donahue (Lights), David McKeever with Allison Rimmer (Sound), and Debra Sivigny with Alexandra Sargent (Costumes).

Arcadia runs July 19-Aug. 6. Tickets are $10.00. Call (301) 924 3400.

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 will include two works by British playwright Steven Dykes, directed as workshops by Nesta Jones, Artistic Director of New Cross Theatre (NXT) in London. amnesia...and other means of escape [sic] investigates "the price you pay for losing your identity," said Faraone. A German immigrant who becomes a player in the New York art world must reconfront his past in this tale of murder, art and pornography on the lower east side. A Light Gathering of Dust, a psycho-social history of the Estonian people before, during, and after Soviet domination, received a reading last fall as part of "The Fall of the Wall," a month-long theatre festival and symposium in London. (According to Faraone, this event was co-sponsored by NXT and Concepts, a European theatre organization, at the Bush Theatre.) A Light Gathering of Dust will continue in development during the Festival, Faraone explained, "The play is being developed from an original text by Merle Karusoo, in the style of Emily Mann, based loosely on interviews from indigenous voices from the last decade."

The readings will be held July 30 and 31 in the Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab. There is no charge, but reservations are required through the box office. Call (301) 924-3400.

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 expands 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