Open Fist Theatre Company to Offer Early Look at THE GARY PLAYS - PART 2, 4/22-24
The Open Fist Theatre Company presents an 'Early Look' at the second installment of Murray Mednick's eight-play "Gary Plays" cycle, directed by Padua Playwrights Artistic Director Guy Zimmerman. Three performances of Part 2 (comprised of Mednick's Out of the Blue, portions of Gary's Walk and DaddyO Dies Well) will be presented on April 22nd, 23rd & 24th at the Greenway Court Theatre, 544 N. Fairfax in Los Angeles, paving the way for a full production of the entire octet in the Fall of 2016.
In the first installment, we were introduced to Gary Bean, an out of luck actor wrestling over the death of his son in a senseless shooting. Now, in this second installment, Rob Nagle takes up the role of Gary, our Everyman, wandering the city of Los Angeles in his search for understanding. "He is perfect for the part," notes Zimmerman. "He is the walking embodiment of the Padua approach to performance." Out of the Blue follows Gary to post-Katrina New Orleans, where his mother, Mama Bean, is clinging to life with the help of a respirator... and her husband, Daddy-O. Faced with his mother's demand that he help her end her own life, Gary struggles with ghosts from his past. With the help of Antonio, the "angel of death" who has haunted the previous plays, Gary takes a trip into the underworld where he is finally able to confront the killer of his son. He returns to his mother's bedside with new wisdom.
In Daddy-O Dies Well, a down-on-his-luck Gary takes a psychedelic Ayahuasca trip at the behest of Daddy-O, his hipster stepfather. Daddy-O is dying, and before he goes, he wants to help his stepson get over his problems. He invites Gary over for tea - but this is not your ordinary Earl Grey. It's Ayahuasca, a powerful hallucinogenic favored by the indigenouse peoples of South America. Under the guidance of Daddy-O and Antonio the "Angel of Death," Gary is brought to understand the pulse and power of organic life on earth in a lyrically comic return to themes explored in Mednick's earlier "Coyote Cycle." Gary's trip takes him to the mountains and forests of South America, and the flutes and drums of the Andes complement the musicality of Mednick's language. "In Murray's plays, death is always present somewhere, but Eros, the life-force, ultimately reigns," said Padua artistic director Guy Zimmerman. "These plays are full-length dramatic poems, and a strong iambic meter powers the dialogue like a heartbeat."
Taken as a whole, The Gary Plays presents a compelling portrait of economic and spiritual distress in the contemporary urban wilderness of the City of Angels. The first three plays in the series were performed in December at the Skylight Theater and now the Padua Playwrights/Open Fist ensemble is mounting the second installment at Greenway Court. A third installment will follow in the summer, and then the entire series will be mounted in the Fall. "Each of these plays is very different from the others stylistically, but they share a lyricism that is present in all my work," says Mednick. "For me, language has always been the essence of theater."
L.A. audiences were first introduced to Gary in 2003, when Padua presented the first three plays in the cycle, Tirade for Three, Gary's Walk and Girl on a Bed, in repertory ("one of the most engaging and ambitious local theater events of the past few seasons" - KCRW). The fourth play, Out of the Blue, premiered three years later ("Critic's Pick" - Back Stage), and DaddyO Dies Well ran in 2011 (full of vitality and truth"-EyeSpyLA). In 2012,The Nightmare Audition and The Fool and The Red Queen were combined into a single evening ("Critic's Choice" - Los Angeles Times). The entire octet is published by TCG (Theatre Communications Group) in a single volume titled Beneath the Dusty Trees, The Gary Plays by Murray Mednick.
Mednick, a pioneer of the Off and Off-Off Broadway movements in the '60s and '70s and playwright-in-residence for Theater Genesis, wrote such ground-breaking works as The Hawk, The Hunter, Sand, Are You Lookin' andThe Deer Kill (1970 OBIE Award for Outstanding Play), and was the founder/artistic director of the Padua Hills Playwrights Workshop/Festival in Los Angeles from 1978 to 1995. He is the recipient of two Rockefeller Foundation grants and a Guggenheim Fellowship, an American Theatre Critics Association Best New Play citation (for Joe and Betty), a Career Achievement Award from the LA Weekly, an Ovation Lifetime Achievement Award for Outstanding Contributions to Los Angeles Theater from the L.A. Stage Alliance, a Local Hero Award from Back Stage West, and the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle's Margaret Harford Award for Sustained Excellence in Theater. "As Murray Mednick experiments with language... he is emblematic of a Los Angeles dramatic tradition in much the same way that Clifford Odets is identifiable with Gotham or David Mamet with Chicago," wrote Bob Verini in Variety.
The cast of THE GARY PLAYS - PART 2 will feature: Andrea Beruatto, Peggy Ann Blow, Brooke Clendenen, Bruce Dickinson, Carl J. Johnson, Laura Liguori, Kevin McCorkle, Derek Manson, Rob Nagle, Tina Preston, Laura Richardson, Christopher Rivas, Barbara Schofield, & Amanda Weier.
SCHEDULE AND PRICING
THE GARY PLAYS - PART 2 will preview on Thursday April 21 at 8 pm and will perform on Friday, April 22 and Saturday, April 23 at 8PM, and Sunday, April 24 at 7pm at the Greenway Court Theatre, 544 N. Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles.
Tickets are $20. Preview Tickets are $10. For tickets and details, please visit www.openfist.org.