Thursday, March 30, 2006

An Equal Opportunity Spoof

Coming in from the March mist and cold, the space inside the Creamery building now known as the Star Garden Theatre feels immediately welcoming. The very high ceilings add to a sense of spaciousness and possibility, and there’s a warmth in the combination of modest fixtures and the theatre’s elegant wood floor. The homey reception area has a refreshment bar, topped with the large masks from Where the Wild Things Are, and a revolutionary new concept in local community theatre---two (count’em, two!) restrooms, one next to the other.

Though Carole Wolfe’s main concern is providing “a safe space” for children at Vagabond Players’ productions and kids classes, she is open to other opportunities these rooms provide. That’s one reason they gave the theatre a separate name. “We’d like to rent to other groups that want to perform for a weekend, or for classes,” she said. “We’re looking for a fresh start,” which also means an openness to new plays and productions for adults, as evidenced by The Tree.

Ten actors, some of them in their first production, gather here for rehearsals. At first, Dave Silverbrand wanted Mark Dupre to direct. “After six months of creating the heads for ‘Wild Things’ and putting together the production, Mark decided he didn’t want to do it,” Wolfe said. “But Dave was still set on having it in this space.”

Enter Denise Ryles, the veteran Humboldt County actor who directed her first show a few years ago. “Dave Silverbrand and I go way back,” she told me. “I was in an English class he taught at HSU, and later he would come into The Costume Box, the shop my mother and I have. He was doing his ‘Dave is…’ thing on Channel 6, and we’d dress him up for the different things he wanted to do.”

So Ryles agreed to direct (and her mother, Rosemary Smith, who still has the Costume Box at 2nd and T in Eureka, has designed the show’s costumes.) By all accounts, Silverbrand worked closely with the production, from involvement in casting to attending rehearsals and making revisions according to what he saw and experienced. “I believe in having the writer here,” Ryles said. “He can hear it and decide for himself if it sounds good or not. He can help the actors, and maybe the actors can add something, so he’s here to decide to keep it or not. I think he’s very happy. He told me this is just how he imagined it to be.”

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