The day has finally come. After talking about this production for over a year, I am finally producing Harold Pinter's The Dumb Waiter in the Little Theatre in the Historic Empire Theatre complex. Many people have been asking "Why is he doing a show in the Little Theatre if it has been closed?" The answer to this is that I have just completed a "Journeyman's Year" where I was half-intern and half-employee. Part of my compensation for doing this year was the use of the Little Theatre. (You may remember Chase Kniffen's production of Godspell in the space. That production was done under the same agreement.) Our production was originally scheduled for February, but both David Janeski (who plays the role of Gus) and I were given the opportunity to work on Smoke on the Mountain at Barksdale Theatre at Hanover Tavern (I as assistant director and David as Dennis, one of the twins- "he's the boy") and couldn't pass up that opportunity. It turns out for the best because now that the show is going up in August, Carl Calabrese is able to join the cast as Ben.
Carl, David, and I attended Longwood University together, Carl graduating one year after I. Though he is new to the Richmond scene, Carl is sure to be loved by all. The Dumb Waiter is the third show in which I have directed Carl; the other two being The Skin of Our Teeth by Thornton Wilder and The Brute by Anton Chekhov, Carl having played the lead in both. Another interesting fact: Carl and I played opposite each other as the Antipholus twins in Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors at Longwood.
David and I have worked on several shows together over the last year including two shows at Barksdale Theatre at Hanover Tavern: Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap and the aforementioned Smoke on the Mountain, as well as Bill C. Davis' new work, Austin's Bridge, at the Firehouse Theatre Project.
To give a brief overview: The Dumb Waiter is a time-honored classic of the absurdist theatre, written in 1960 by Harold Pinter, who would later go on to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005. This dark comedy is the story of two contract killers waiting in a basement for their next job. Tension runs high due to decidedly contrasting personalities and it only escalates as they are sent encoded commands through an old dumb waiter. The twisting tale is sure to leave you guessing until the very last moments, and it's shocking conclusion! (Dun-Dun-Dun).
This process has been incredibly enjoyable and enlightening. Outside of the obvious duties of a director, so many other things fall onto one's plate when one decides to independently produce a show. From sending out press releases, to painting the set and rigging lights, everything comes at a rapid pace. I have been very fortunate to have many wonderful people give me and advice and help me immensely.
Thank you to Sara, Judi, Wendy, Jessica, both Bruce's, Phil, Catherine, Billy Christopher, and everyone else at Barksdale/Theatre IV who have donated their time to help with things that I could never have done on my own.
Also see the article that appeared in the August 1 STYLE Weekly.
Assistant to the Managing Director