This summer, Planet Connections Theatre Festivity (PCTF), the brainchild of arts professional Glory Kadigan, turns 10 years old. In that decade, PCTF has successfully changed the landscape of the theatre festival and all of New York independent theatre. The multi-award-winning theatre festival will celebrate in a big way by premiering more than 50 timely and topical plays and musicals written by the next generation of playwrights. Each play contains a powerful message serving as a parable of various world themes. The Tenth Planet: Planet Connections Theatre Festivity will run from July 9 through August 5, 2018 at The Clemente, 107 Suffolk Street, NYC. http://www.planetconnections.org. Artists presenting works from all across America, including Denver, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Providence and New York City; and from all over the planet, including Japan, Yugoslavia, Russia, Peru, France, Belarus, & Haiti are part of this year’s festivity.
Adam Belvo spoke to OuterStage about his take on history as a feuding family’s ideologies set the stage for a national tragedy in THE BRUTES
Part of the 10th anniversary season of Planet Connections Theatre Festivity at the Theaters at the Clemente, 107 Suffolk Street, New York City, on Wednesday 7/18 @7:30pm-9pm; Saturday 7/21 @4:30pm-6pm; Thursday 7/26 @6:15pm-7:45pm; Sunday 7/29 @9pm-10:30pm; Monday 7/30 @7:30pm-9pm; and Wednesday 8/1 @9:30pm-11pm.
Casey Wimpee’s gripping play, THE BRUTES, takes you backstage of an historic performance of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” featuring the renowned theatrical Booth family – brothers Edwin, Junius Jr. and John Wilkes. This was the first and only time that the three brothers shared a stage together. The backstage drama becomes the focus of this portrait of their tempestuous relationship fraught with political conflict ending in an American tragedy.
Adam, share with us something about you and your company.
spit&vigor is committed to producing theater that brings people together and challenges them, intellectually and emotionally. We choose to present scenarios without easy answers or alliances, with all the real complications of life lived fully. We believe in healthy conflict and unsatisfying resolutions. We think that this type of art is especially necessary at this moment, socially and politically.
I agree, now let’s go deeper. Share with us a little something about your play that we WON’T see in the press release.
We have a unique style of production that fits Casey Wimpee’s poetic writing in THE BRUTES perfectly; we generally produce in the round or using alley seating, bringing our audience in close so that they become, in a sense, engaged and involved in the action. Add to that quick, tight, rhythmic, emotionally charged and rooted action and direction, and this show will be extremely exciting and riveting through the very last spoken word.
You mentioned producing relevant works, well, how does your play resonate today? Feel free to be blunt.
Our play deals with a hopelessly divided nation, and how families living within that nation are affected by such divisions.
On the one hand, the show portrays what it’s like to love a member of your family while completely disavowing all of their hateful beliefs, and the kind of pain that can come out of trying and failing to reconnect, and ultimately having to mourn that person before they’re dead because they’re so completely foregone in their radicalism and violence.
On the other hand, the play also deals with sanctimony, and how blind, unexamined belief in one’s own purity and righteousness without enough empathy can also cut you off from the people you love just as much as hateful fervor. This form of sanctimony can even add to the hatred of the people around you because it isolates and shames them, stoking a flame until it’s an uncontrollable fire.
Is that why you chose the great Planet Connections?
We chose Planet Connections because we like the idea of our play doing a little good towards preventing the kind of real-world hatred and violence that we explore in the play. Our play is sponsoring The Southern Poverty Law Center, which does a lot of great work with its Teaching Tolerance project, which is committed to reducing prejudice and helping us all live together in a more peaceful world.
It also has a program called “Hatewatch”, which is a blog that “monitors and exposes the activities of the American radical right”, and reports them to police and media.
You can donate to The Southern Poverty Law Center here: https://donate.splcenter.org/sslpage.aspx?pid=463
Historical works come with their own obstacles, I’d imagine. Where do you see it going in the future? What’s the next step?
We’ll be having a full run in the fall, right around Thanksgiving which will work well thematically since the play takes place at the first officially decreed Thanksgiving holiday.
We’re very excited to be returning to PCTF, and we cannot wait to bring THE BRUTES to The Flamboyan stage this summer.