A few weeks ago we ran Theater Without a Theater, a piece about a new theatrical paradigm, which pointed out how the fiscal cost of actually maintaining a traditional theater had all but outlived feasibility. Performing Arts of Woodstock’s recent, very well attended Lucy at St. Gregory’s Church, re-iterated the point. With fresh examples of small, highly creative dramatics continuing to pop up locally, it now behooves us to mention a less polite truth: that the creative cost of traditional theater may prove even more punishing than a profit and loss sheet. We need look no farther than to the newly re-configured Woodstock Playhouse and its safe, predictable summer-stock fare now extended into the post-summer season to acknowledge that, yes, these unexciting means perhaps justify a desired end: a building with stage and deep seats wherein a remarkable drama may one day be performed. But the long road from predictable to remarkable (like similar arguments surrounding our democracy’s two party system) may well never be completed in yours or my lifetime. No, you won’t hear me stumping for Ralph Nader quite yet, but you will hear me applauding some daring little companies continuing to fight a most welcome hit-and-run guerilla theater campaign in and around Woodstock, and escaping artistic compromise thereby.
The new owner of our oldest existing Inn, The Twin Gables Guesthouse, having recently completed a renovation of its all-stone entrance, is now utilizing the quaint drawing room to host a wonderful concept for the Christmas holidays. Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House,” the action of which takes place over Christmas in Norway’s 1870’s, will be performed on Friday and Saturday, December 9 and 10, at 7 p.m. Sunday’s Dec 11 performance will be at 4 p.m. An audience limited to 20 people will be feted with Champagne and Norwegian desserts at the intermission of this famous drama, long considered the first-born of modern theater. Proceeds for this “Special Site Specific” New Genesis Production will go to scholarships for young actors in the Hudson Valley and will star Joe Bongiorno, Mark Kanter, Holly Graff, Liz Boiko Burdick, Nick Kolba, with direction by Lesley Sawhill. Clearly, the extreme intimacy of this tour-de-force will prove quite a challenge for actors and director alike, and we hope — like the Voice-theater’s production of Hay Fever — will contribute to the growing excitement for “in your face” Theater-less Theater in Woodstock. (The performance of plays at Inns and Inn-yards, in fact, predates any and all formal theaters in English-speaking drama, so our “new paradigm” completes a very old circle, indeed.)