An Ideal Community Theater
If one night among all others proves living in Skippack is as close as we come in this life to living in paradise, it is theater night. My wife Debby and I have been subscribers to Playcrafters of Skippack, our local community theater, for three years. Our tickets are always for a Saturday evening performance. We get a chance to rest during the day and come evening, dressed in fine but casual clothes, we take our long-anticipated stroll through Skippack Village to the Barn theater.
Find Your Seat and Enter a New World
We ascend a narrow staircase, find our seats, the lights go down and we are transported to a new world. Why is this moment of theater becoming more special to me as the years go by?
As a blogger at night and web content manager for a large company 9-to-5, I spend long hours in front of electronic screens: The computer both connects me to people and distances me from these same people. Flesh and blood actors with their presence and immediacy, their ability to bring words to life, and their ability to confront emotion are a refreshing jolt of energy to a soul benumbed by digital waves.
Playcrafters of Skippack gains even greater power through its willingness to stage less-well-known and more thought-provoking productions when compared to many other community theaters. Indeed, Playcrafters seems to embody many characteristics that go to the core of what makes Skippack special; small town intimacy and warmth blended with a touch of big city sophistication.
A Stellar Season Ahead for Skippack
If the opening production of the 2012 season, An Ideal Husband by Victorian playwright Oscar Wilde, is any indication, this is going to be a stellar theater season in Skippack. An Ideal Husband has finished it’s run and, if you missed it dear reader, you missed an amazing night of theater. Fortunately, there are six more productions remaining in the Playcrafters of Skippack season.
As lovers of Skippack, we support Playcrafters as a community. However, as members of an audience we experience each play as an individual. It is the province of the live actor to touch our inner consciousness in a unique way. We each have freedom to see and interpret the play in our own way; freedom of thought is, of course, the greatest freedom of all.
The Biggest Comedy of the Season
Wilde wrote An Ideal Husband, a comedy of manners with both glittering wit and a serious moral center, in 1895, the twilight years of the late Victorian era. Director Margo Weishar O’Moore made a brave decision to set the play into a time closer to our own, around the middle of the 20th century. In my opinion, this bold move made the dramatic conflict in the play more relevant.
An Ideal Husband opens during a dinner party at the home of Sir Robert and Lady Gertrude Chiltern (played by Mark Ayers and Mare Mikalic). Robert Chiltern is a prestigious member of the House of Commons. His wife, Gertrude Chiltern, is a woman with strong moral convictions. She believes she has an “ideal husband”—that is, a man who is unblemished in both private and public life and whom she can worship.
During the party, an acquaintance of Gertrude Chiltern’s named Mrs. Cheveley (played by Christine Martuscello) attempts to blackmail Robert Chiltern.
Many years earlier, Robert Chiltern had sold a Cabinet secret. Truth be told, he made his fortune and built his political career with dirty money from this deal. Mrs. Cheveley has a letter which proves his guilt and threatens to destroy both his marriage and career, unless he is willing to give his support to a highly-questionable foreign investment scheme she favors in an upcoming vote in the House of Commons.
I cannot help but think that it was a telling choice to stage this comedy in an election year in which the cost for running for president is expected to be hundreds of millions or even a billion dollars or more. Whatever side of the aisle you sit on, dear reader, do not be a Gertrude Chiltern; do not idolize the candidate of your choice as an “ideal president” in the mold of George Washington or Abraham Lincoln. A political candidate does not raise this kind of money using the qualities of a boy scout. Indeed, let us see our trip to the voting booth this November as the biggest comedy of the season.
The Only Answer Is to Laugh
Playwright Oscar Wilde uses his urbane wit, keen sense of pleasure in pointing out social hypocrisy, and love for the clever flow of words to resolve the questions he raises in An Ideal Husband. Here are a few of many great lines from the play:
- “The world is a stage, but the play is badly cast.”
- “Life is never fair…And perhaps it is a good thing for most of us that it is not.”
- “No man is rich enough to buy back his past.”
Up next at Playcrafters: The Children’s Hour a hard-hitting drama by playwright Lillian Hellman which opens May 31. The Skippack Blogger is looking forward to it. I love having my guts ripped out at the Barn Theater.