Trouble amidst the rubble in Woodstock

Yankee Tavern cast (photo by Andrea Cabane)

There’s no play too heavy, too complex for Performing Arts of Woodstock to take on. Ever since starting off with a production of Eugene Ionesco’s The Lesson at the old Café Espresso (right around the same time that a young man named Bob Dylan was composing music upstairs), it has tackled the likes of Sam Shepard and Samuel Beckett, new works and old, and all with a host of talented non-professionals from the local community.

Starting this Thursday, August 16, the 48-year old troupe will be taking on the rising new classic Yankee Tavern by Steven Dietz in three weekends of performances in a new location: the St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church Hall, located just outside the village itself (it has usually performed at the Woodstock Town Hall, now under renovation).

The play is set in a down-at-heels saloon near Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan in the years after the World Trade Center has come down. A regular of the bar spins his conspiracy theories about 9/11, the moonwalk and the general state of the world while the young owner of the bar, a graduate student, turns out to have his own secrets. A stranger arrives who knows those secrets and was somehow involved in 9/11, setting up a comedic thriller that plays conspiracies within conspiracies for what many have termed one of our age’s best new dramas.

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“The fits and starts that comprise our daily life can – with a bottle of beer and an attentive bartender – attain a certain rough-hewn majesty in the telling,” is how Dietz, who has consistently made the Top Ten list of most-produced playwrights (not including Shakespeare) in recent years, has described his work. Nicola Sheara, a Broadway actress, directs this production as it runs on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8 p.m. each day, with no matinees or Sunday performances.

Performing Arts of Woodstock present Yankee Tavern at the Hall at St. Gregory’s Church, located at 2578 Route 212 a quarter-mile north of Woodstock. The show will run three weekends from August 16 to September 1 on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. There will be no matinees or Sunday performances. Tickets cost $17 for adults, $14 for seniors and students, with reservations necessary due to very limited seating. Call (845) 679-7900 or visit www.performingartsofwoodstock.org.

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