Nine people on folding chairs on an otherwise bare stage in an old barn. The director standing in the shadows during the entire two-hour performance, providing a few words of scene setting. No props. No special effects.
But the reading of Lolita Chakrabarti’s Red Velvet, produced by Door Shakespeare on Sept. 16 at Woodwalk Gallery, was one of the most powerful dramas I’ve experienced in years.
The actors – three from Door Shakespeare’s summer season and the others from Milwaukee, Minneapolis and Chicago – were superb. Although they never moved from their positions, the audience knew exactly what they were feeling as they spoke and reacted to the words of others.
It was an enthralling, true tale of life on the professional stage. And although it was set in the mid-1800s, it made one question whether race relations have improved all that much in a century and a half.
Door Shakespeare’s next free reading (with donations happily accepted) will be How Shakespeare Won the West at Woodwalk Gallery at 7 pm on Oct. 14. The play, by Richard Nelson, tells the story of a ragtag troupe of actors as they head west during the Gold Rush, seeking fortune and fame and performing Shakespeare for enthusiastic ’49ers. Michael Stebbins will again direct with, he said, an almost entirely new cast.
Better arrive early if you want a seat!
Baileys Harbor, Wisconsin