Here are some thoughts about Mr. Kolpert from our superb Dramaturgical team, Brian Myers and Ellen Walkley:
“Startling, jarring and unexpected, the antics in Mr. Kolpert have had a worldwide appeal. Since the first production in 2000 in London, Mr. Kolpert has been produced in 24 countries, from Iceland and Romania to Israel and New Zealand. The play was originally written in German, while Gieselmann was a resident playwright at the Royal Court, and first performed in English. In addition to this comedy, Gieselmann has written a translation of Edward II, a libretto for The Onyx Hotel and an award-winning play for children, About Boys. His blog, Popticker, follows popular music.”
“Mr. Kolpert shares with many absurdist plays a silence about the causes of or the remedies for the characters’ predicaments. As in Waiting for Godot or The Birthday Party, the action begins in an unexplained present and proceeds without arguing for a particular resolution to the characters’ underlying problems. In Mr. Kolpert, the characters become increasingly extreme in their efforts to put their world right, but Gieselmann allows the audience to relieve whatever discomfort it may have at these extremes through laughter. That discomfort may linger, however, leaving us to wonder about what makes us laugh and what makes us stop.”
Come find that wonder! Mr. Kolpert runs February 5- 27 at our home in Imago Theatre.
Here at Third Rail we’ve enjoyed the services of two magnificent dramaturgs, Brian Myers and Ellen Walkley, for several years. They’ve been with us since 2011 when they took over managing our NT Live program, and took over dramaturgical duties from Larkin Sackett (who ran off to a little school called Columbia University to pursue her MFA) during Sweet and Sad. They both hold PhDs from UC Berkeley, and we are blessed to have their incredible brains in the rehearsal room. Brian and Ellen tend to tag-team our seasons, each taking the lead on alternating shows, so we asked Ellen to write up a bit of information about our upcoming show Or, by Liz Duffy Adams:
Or, looks ripe for the easiest of a dramaturg’s job—researching historical references—but it is less immediately yielding to the more difficult task of finding the heart of the script. Charles II was indeed fond of exclaiming “Odd’s fish,” for example, but his visit to Aphra in debtor’s prison is pure fiction. Aphra spied, London burned, the plague raged, Charles returned and theaters reopened, but this play is not dependent on a precise chronology.
Adams directs us in many ways to the play’s essence. In her stage directions, she states that the play is set during the Restoration “but plays off the echoes between the late 1660s, the late 1960s and the present.” These echoes are evident in the diction, which is often anachronistic; “kinky,” “It girl,” “quickie,” and “nostalgia queen” are not words likely heard in Charles’ court. Echoes between the 1660s and 1960s are also found in the background of the play, unfolding as it does in the midst of an unpopular war and the loosening of sexual morés. The pastoral lyricism of Aphra’s speech about Arcadia and Nell’s restatement of that speech in contemporary terms matches the joys of Arcadia with the expectations of the Age of Aquarius.
But Adams suggests that this combination of destruction and hope can be found in any age. Her primary interest is in a “subculture that can look incredibly naïve, but is exactly what gives us hope.” The advice that Nell gives Aphra could work as well in the present as it does in the 1660s:
Nell: We are lucking to be alive right now. This is our utopia, and it’s never going to end. Aphra: How lovely it would be to believe that. Nell: O, just choose to believe it, that’s what I do.
A great group of Third Rail Members joined the cast, designers, and production team at the first-read for Or, on Monday night. Historically, our first-reads have only been open to Third Rail Core Company and members of the board, but with our new Membership model, we’re cultivating a deeper relationship with our patrons by including Members in the process of page-to-stage… and we’re so frickin’ excited!
We all gathered to hear our director (Core Company Member Philip Cuomo) speak about his vision for the show, and to listen (and watch) design presentations by an impressive design team. After snacks and beers, we regrouped to hear the actors read the play, together, for the very first time.
Or, is set in the 1660s (or is it the 1960s?), and is based on an imagined meeting between the (very real) Aphra Behn, England’s first professional playwright, the (also very real) Nell Gwyn, a famous Restoration actress, the (real) William Scot, an English spy in the Second Anglo-Dutch War, and the (yes, THE) Charles II, King of England. It’s funny, beautiful and it bends sexuality and gender and time with bawdy glee. We couldn’t be more excited to be opening our season with this show.
Want a run-down of the team? Check out our post on the cast and creative team. Would you like to attend one of our production’s first-reads? We would love for you to join us! Read this to learn more about becoming a Member of Third Rail.
The mission of Third Rail Repertory Theatre is to provide a dynamic artistic home for theatre audiences in Portland by fostering a professional local company, which, through collaboration and discipline, brings to life exceptional stories that provoke dialogue, encourage empathy, and inspire curiosity.