Over the past several months, New York has been wrapped in Cellophane, inhaled Second-Hand Smoke and been sucked in by Dracula. All are plays by Mac Wellman, whose local renaissance continues with a Wellman Festival (titled "The Horizontal Avalanche") celebrating the author's more than 20 years in the theatre.
Now two more Wellman works are on the way: The Damned Thing and The Sandalwood Box, one-acts world premiering at downtown's La MaMa E.T.C., Feb. 27-March 8, opening March 1.
Thing, adapted from Ambrose Bierce's story, Story, is a creepy 19th century tale tale about a farmer who was mauled to death, and the coroner, journalist and investigator seeking the details. Gothic organ music (by Jim Farmer) will add mood to this hallucinatory piece.
Also a horror play, The Sandalwood Box tells of a woman who keeps tokens from celebrated historical disasters in a box. "An act of the unseen" then reaches out of the box to terrorize modern-day bystanders.
The one-acts, presented by Ridge Theatre, are staged by Ridge's artistic director, Bob McGrath. The troupe use multi-media and are best known for staging two John Moran operas, Jack Benny and Everyday Newt Burman!. Between the two plays, Bill Morrison's film, Another Sky, wil be screened. Starring in Box are Julia Stiles, Leigh Secrest, Daniel Safer, David Turley and Richard Scheinmel. Thing features Daniel Harnett, Susan Heimbinder, Fred Tietz, Jeff Breeland, Daniel Z. (sic) and Jennifer Cooper. Designing the evening are Laurie Olinder and Fred Tietz (set), Howard Thies (lighting), Olinder and Julianne Kroboth (costumes), and Tim Schellenbaum (sound).
Presenting more than 20 productions in four U.S. Cities, The Mac Wellman Festival runs Oct. 1997-April 1998. In January, the Furballs troupe staged Cellophane Off-Off-Broadway. Other plays in the Wellman Fest include Sincerity Forever, 7 Blowjobs, Harm's Way and the New York premiere of Cat's Paw, (directed by Jim Simpson).
-- By David Lefkowitz