Friday, June 13, 2014

CTP addresses two current theater discussions: Original voices and Women with “Starling”

Cast of "Starling" (photo Danielle Barnum)

Next up for Confrontational TheaterProject: Starling by Julia Nardin and Samm Murphy. This relatively new company started out with two guys who wanted to put on a particular play. Beau Prichard and Baron Von Oldenburg did Proof in 2012. Beau says, “It sold out and worked the way we wanted and Baron suggested we just keep going. He gave the company the money to continue. I made a short list of projects I wanted to do, (but first) found three local playwrights who had one acts they wanted to have done and called it Lifelines and produced that in 2012, as well.”

Asked where the name of the company came from, Beau says, “(We think) the productions should tackle something important and give the audience something to digest. They should be talking about it on the way home and even have it come up several days later as they continue to think about what it brought up for them.

“We wanted a strong word and the dictionary definition (says ‘confrontation’) can be a debate or discussion. It doesn’t have to be a fight, which is what the word often means to people: conflict, direct antagonism. That’s not what we mean. We mean open discourse about a difficult topic. You know people will have different ideas, but there can be a way to talk about all of them.

“One thing you can do with theater is bring up difficult things and have a way to talk about them. When we did Two Rooms, in 2013, it’s a drama about a hostage in Lebanon and has a wife back home waiting for him. A friend who is staunch conservative saw the play and said he’d never thought about the people back home waiting for the prisoners in Gitmo. He had a notion challenged and went home pondering instead of having a knee jerk reaction.”

Beau thinks that Starling speaks to that aesthetic directly. “Starling from that point of view is a really unflinching look at the reality of war. This is about a period of World War II and the script is really grey. The bad guys are the Nazis, but you never see them. The good people in the show do bad things and vice versa. When lives and loyalties come to a head in those pressured situations, people rarely make the decisions you’d see in a movie.”

The press release about the play says, “Two estranged sisters rescue a German war correspondent during the last great conflict between Poland’s resistance movement and occupying Nazi forces, and must choose between duty to their country and duty to the life they have inadvertently saved. Starling explores the fragility and fallibility of the human heart through the experience of women at war.”

Julia Nardin and Samm Murphy met each other in school and wrote much of this play long distance, since Samm lives in (and hales from) New Zealand. They wanted to portray female protagonists and their experiences of the war. Julia is now also managing director of CTP.

Beau says, “I felt strongly about fostering an original voice with Julia and Samm. The side benefit is in a year where a lot of talk in the Seattle theatrical community has been about original voices in theater and how to do more of it. And on a national scale about women’s voices in theater. And both of those combine in this production.”

The production boasts a five person cast featuring Katherine Jett, David Klein, Tom Stewart, Stefan Hajek, and Danika Golombek. It opened last weekend at INScape, the Satori Group space and runs through June 21.


Beau says, about future productions, “We will attempt to put things out on a regular basis, but we want to do things that feel like they are a strong contribution. (We’d like to do) Manuscript ideally next year. It made me feel the clench in my gut that I might feel as an audience member watching the show unfold. (That is the kind of play I want to do,) though I might have to disregard a play with a cast of twenty. Intimacy is part of what I look for. I don’t look for a particular issue, but ones that would affect me as an audience member.”