CATF productions begin rehearsals for 2017 season
Anticipation was buzzing this past week as the Contemporary American Theater Festival (CATF) began its first read throughs for the 2017 season. Rehearsals began June 1 with the premiere production of “We Will Not Be Silent,” by David Meyers and directed by Ed Herendeen.
“It’s a mad sprint from here (to July), and then everyone can relax,” said Peggy McKowen, associate producing director for the festival. “People started arriving (at the end of May) to start setting things up, and here we are today. Everything comes together rather quickly.”
“We Will Not Be Silent,” is a play set in the backdrop of Nazi occupied Germany where Sophie Scholl, portrayed by Lexi Lapp, led the only major act of civil disobedience during the Second World War.
“(The) question (of sacrifice and conscience are) the heart of the play, and I wrote the play because I truly did not know what the answer would be in practice,” Meyers said in an interview with Sharon J. Anderson, CATF trustee/professional story listener and creative director. “Five years ago, I was writing articles on Syria and the disgrace that America was doing nothing, even not confronting Russia. But then I realized that in America, that was very easy for me to write. … In Russia, critics of Putin are literally dropping dead in the streets. Would I really be willing to give my life for a cause even though I thought it probably would make no difference? That’s why Sophie and Hans and the White Rose story are so important to me.”
Another production sure to ignite some conversation this year is Eleanor Burgess’s “The Niceties,” which is directed by Kimberly Senior. “Niceties” is a story of two separate generational feminists – Janine, portrayed by Susan Kellerman, who is a ’60s era liberal free speech advocate; and Zoe, portrayed by Margaret Ivey, a millennial liberal equality warrior – who focus more on their differences than what unites them.
“It’s hard to imagine the halcyon days of thoughtful political discourse. When we were able to listen, it was because some groups were dominating the conversation and other groups were staying quiet or talking amongst themselves. Now everyone is speaking up and advocating for themselves and creating conversational chaos,” Burgess said in an interview with Anderson. “The Internet is also a huge factor, and that is why I love theater because theater is the anti-Internet. The Internet allows us to put anything out there without looking another person in the face and seeing its impact.”
While the CATF doesn’t officially kickoff until July 7, with actors in place and rehearsals beginning, this year’s season is moving forward at full steam.