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Arts Council Takes A Chance
For the second month in succession the monthly general meeting of the Arts Council went on the road – this time to visit the Chance Theatre @ Bette Aitken Theatre Arts Center. Over 20 members and friends assembled in the large rehearsal room in the wonderful new facility, chowed down on welcome refreshments, and then went on a tour of the whole theater.
What we were shown was the outcome of aggressive fundraising over the last year or so that has seen donations of over $¾ million. Seldom has a theater company ever worked so hard with such vision, artistic excellence and determination to achieve a dream. This is a truly inspiring place.
Board member Susie Dittmar and Founder member Erika Miller led two groups into all the secret nooks and crannies normally hidden from public gaze: the construction shop, the laundry room, dressing rooms, rehearsal spaces, both theatre spaces, the green room and showers!! Yes – hot, sweaty actors need showers! This is a professional theater in every way. The tour completed Erika fielded questions about the Chance’s name and origins; its many programs, it forthcoming schedules, awards, and place in the LA/OC theater scene.
For those who chose to stay after the usual 7pm conclusion (which was most people there) the evening continued with boxed dinners from Sally Ann Catering and a specially discounted rate performance of the latest main stage play, A Bright New Boise.
The Chance has devised yet another way to configure its space so that the whole play takes place in the center with audience seating blocks on either side. It all adds to the intimacy of the experience, where you feel almost part of the action.
The play is set in the break room of Hobby Lobby, and the parking lot outside, in Boise, Idaho. Grappling with themes of despair and redemption, five characters, each with their own internal conflicts, are drawn into the struggle of new employee, Will (Casey Long) to relate to his long lost son, Alex (Andrew Guerrero).
The delicious satire of the play is that it takes place in a Hobby Lobby store. This well known chain is notable for its owners’ strong espousal of evangelical Christianity and its campaigns to seek exemption from birth control and marriage laws. It has been called out for its hypocrisy by the media. Hobby Lobby is not exempt from criticism in this play, though it is more oblique.
After an initial stand-off between Will and Leroy(David Vera), store manager Pauline (Karen Olds) storms in with the most outrageous, and extremely funny, stream of foul language totally unbefitting of the high ethical culture that “Corporate” would expect. And that is only a beginning. Both Will and shop assistant Anna (Alex Bueno) find themselves in the break room at night having hidden among the cards and wrappings when the store closes at night. We will not venture further into the plot, the agonies, the pathos, the darkness of the comedy and thereby become a spoiler.
This is a finely written, inventive play that is grounded deeply in issues we will all understand. Some playgoers may be disappointed that although characters and relationships change, the resolution they might like to see is not explicit. This leaves room for great discussion with the actors after the show in the Talkback session.
A Bright New Boise runs until October 25. It’s an education. Highly recommended.
External links: Play details on the Chance website