By Bob Hicks
When you see the killer-good performances in Artists Repertory Theatre‘s current hit Superior Donuts, remember this: Tracy Letts is an actor. And when actors write plays, they write them with actors in mind.
Letts, the Steppenwolf Theatre stalwart who won the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize for his 2008 family drama August: Osage County, has a long history with Artists Rep, which has also produced his plays Bug and Killer Joe and commissioned his adaptation of Chekhov’s Three Sisters. In each case, viewers argued about the literary quality of the scripts, but most everyone agreed they made for terrific performances.
Which brings up an interesting point: If a script creates juicy roles, doesn’t that mean it’s a good script? If it gives actors the opportunity to do the things actors do best, is that somehow different from literary quality? Or is performance its own thing?
Continue reading Tracy Letts, the ‘Superior’ actors’ writer →
UPDATE: The Oregonian’s Marty Hughley has posted a terrific, insightful review of of “August: Osage County” on Oregon Live. Give it a read.
There are many wonderful things about Steppenwolf Theatre‘s touring production of Tracy Letts‘ August: Osage County, which opened Tuesday night at Keller Auditorium as part of Portland Opera’s Broadway Across America series. One of them was not the ending.
I don’t mean the ending onstage, when actress DeLanna Studi cradled the remarkable Estelle Parsons in her lap on an attic bed and crooned to her as the lights went down.
I mean the stampede in the audience to beat the crowd and get out the door quick, as if it were late in the third quarter of a 55-0 football game and all that mattered was getting out of the stadium parking lot and hitting the freeway before 30,000 other cars followed suit.
The rush began during that final fade, when the proper response was to sit still and let the emotional accumulation of this three-and-a-half-hour American journey sink in. It hit full throttle when the lights came up for cattle call … I mean, curtain call. As many in the audience were rising to their feet to applaud the work of this talented company of actors, many others were bumping and bruising their ways to the aisles, trodding on toes, trailing their belongings, urging their fellow longhorns on so they could get out first. Show’s over. Drinks and bathrooms calling.
Continue reading Run for your life: Curtain call coming! →