In the same way that an artist’s preliminary drawing can bring us closer to the creative process than the finished painting it precedes, there’s a pleasing intimacy to a staged reading that one doesn’t find in a full-blown theatrical production with sets and costumes.
On Saturday, November 24 at Shadowland Theatre in Ellenville, Actors & Writers will present a staged dramatic reading of Darling Bender, a new play written and directed by Adam LeFevre.
The plot involves elements of both film noir and time travel. The play’s protagonist is a hard-boiled detective who falls asleep one evening in 1947 and wakes up in present-day Manhattan. “The story jumps back and forth between past and present time,” says LeFevre. “As it opens in a sort of dingy detective’s office, you meet the lead detective whose partner has been shot and whose wife has left him.” With the help of a sympathetic young cyber-technician in present-day New York, he discovers the truth of how and why he arrived here, and eventually realizes that facing the truth is his only way home.
The cast includes Joe White, David Smilow, Shelley Wyant and Dannah Chaifetz, with some doubling of roles in the casting as some of the actors play characters from both time periods in the story. LeFevre says that despite some initial thought by some that it might be confusing to cast that way, he thinks the device of actors playing double roles may actually reinforce the parallels in the two storylines of past and present and make the connections between them even more clear. “That’s the way I hope the strategy will function,” says LeFevre. “I think it’s clear in the writing, and it’ll be clear in the staging.”
Although LeFevre is an accomplished actor himself, he will not appear in this reading, finding it more helpful as a writer, he says, to be able to sit in with an audience to see what’s working and what’s not.
Showtime is 8 p.m. Admission is pay-what-you-wish, although donations are welcome and help keep Actors & Writers solvent and able to pay for the costs of putting on a production. “It’s not about making money,” says LeFevre, “it’s about keeping afloat. There are a lot of very talented people up here, and to be able, as an actor and a writer, to get a reading publicly is very helpful in the process of developing a play.”
A prolific playwright, Adam LeFevre won Actors Theatre of Louisville’s Heideman Award for Waterbabies. As an actor, he has appeared in scores of films, from John Sayles’s The Return of the Secaucus Seven to the soon-to-be released Molly’s Theory of Relativity, and in many television series, including eight episodes of Law and Order. He’s also a poet, with books published by Wesleyan and Starting Gate.
For more information about Actors & Writers, call (845) 657-9760 or visit www.actorsandwriters.com.
Staged reading of “Darling Bender,” Saturday, November 24, 8 p.m., free-but-donations-welcome, Shadowland Theatre, 157 Canal Street, Ellenville; (845) 647-5511, shadowlandtheatre.org.