Friday, April 20, 2018

Play a Day: Much Ado About Nothing (BONUS)

Lara Mielcarek (right) and company (2016)
Photo: Fresh Water Cleveland
Last year my colleague Chennelle and I had the unique opportunity to witness a production of Macbeth staged in the Northeast Reintegration Center (NERC), produced by the Artists' Rehabilitation Coalition (ARC), and directed by Lara Mielcarek.

More recently, Lara directed performances of my play The Way I Danced With You at Blank Canvas Theatre. She did such incredible work on my script, we've been running into each other giving each other sad face, it was such a brief process but such a beautiful experience.

Tonight Chennelle and I experienced a staged reading of Much Ado About Nothing at the NERC. This is Lara's third event with ARC, a company she founded in 2016 when the performed a stripped down King Lear. This is their first time working with a comedy.

We were treated to a brisk cutting, a forty-minute abridgment read by six inmates, Lara and two of her associates. They stood at music stands with a variety of costume pieces to suggest change in character. It was very funny, it's always so exciting to see folks who never thought of themselves as actors stepping out of their comfort zones, to risk looking foolish in the service of a good story.

Some actually are actors, or should I say they could be. The women playing Beatrice and Benedick were particularly strong with great comic timing. We'd seen "Benedick" last year in Macbeth, she's been in all three performances, and I would be glad to see her pursue theater out here. The strength to stand before your peers and strangers and speak challenging dialogue with confidence is always inspiring.

After there were doughnuts and had a few moments to chat. It's a beautiful program and we were grateful for the invite.

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