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Happenstance Theater

Happenstance Theater's Pantheon. at Baltimore Theater Project. photo: Glenn Ricci

An extremely rewarding month of working with Happenstance Theater has come to an end. I was honored to get the chance to work with this company! They create truly exciting theater. And audiences and reviewers alike have loved the show. Here are a couple of excerpts from the reviews:

The Happenstance troupe conjures a classical pantheon of characters and ancient stories with these simple props and sets their narrative in the 1940s of factory workers and Rosie the Riveters. Sounds weird? Yes, but it’s good-weird. (Jayne Blanchard, DC Theatre Scene)

They have combined their classic silent film stylings of physical comedy with classic Greek mythology and the results are a fantastic spectacle for the eyes and is a stage reminder that without risk, life is not worth the living. In this case the risk paid off, and this adventure of a show is worth every penny of admission. (Baltimore Independent Theater Review, BITR Sisters blog)

It’s very distinctive stylistically and it’s very playful, but it’s performed with complete seriousness, and it deals with some serious issues: the consequences of bad or irresponsible behavior, the importance of looking out for each other, the importance of working together, particularly in terms of saving the planet. In the end Phaethon convinces his father Helios, the god of the sun to let him drive the chariot (of the sun) Phaethon nearly destroys the world. It’s a comment on the dangers of selfishness and egotism, and it reinforces the importance of cooperation; and frankly the show itself demonstrates cooperation. It’s a communal creation; it’s its own best advocate. We’ve very fortunate that Happenstance happened to choose Baltimore for their world premier (J. Wynn Rousuck, WYPR, Baltimore Public Radio)

This is a drawing I made in 1982 of Coplen House, which is owned by the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission, where my brother has lived since 1981. I lived here in the summers of '82 and '83, teaching at Roundhouse Theater Summer Camp, and it has been a pleasure to be hosted here again by Mark and his wife, co-artistic director of Happenstance Sabrina Mandell. It is a quiet oasis surrounded by parkland where you can forget that just half a mile away suburban sprawl stretches away endlessly in every direction. At night coyotes howl and in the early morning the deer come and graze on the lawn.

Entrée des Artistes! The entrance to Coplen House, source of much creativity and joy. (Note the Charlie Chaplin poster. Chaplin's combination of physical comedy and social conscience inform the style of Happenstance Theater. And if you look over the washing machine on the right you can see part of a piece I did back in the 90s; one of my Motel series works. )

I look forward to returning in June for another run of Pantheon at Joe's Movement Emporium in Washington, DC. (June 18-July 1). Don't miss it!

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