Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Ignoring Curse, B'dale Partners on "Darwin"

Posted by Bruce Miller
Among Greater Richmond's major nonprofit arts organizations, Barksdale and Theatre IV lead the pack when it comes to successful partnerships with colleague organizations. For decades we have been proud of our record as the partnership kings. We were doing partnerships long before partnerships were cool.

Barksdale’s current partnership with the Carpenter Science Theatre Company of the Science Museum of Virginia is running full speed ahead. Terrie Powers, resident designer with Barksdale and Theatre IV, designed the set for Endless Forms Most Wonderful, a new play about Charles Darwin written by Douglas Jones (author of numerous touring shows for Theatre IV, as well as Songs from Bedlam, Bojangles and The Turn of the Screw, all of which had their world premieres at Barksdale).

Billy Christopher Maupin, publications manager and marketing associate at Barksdale, is stage manager of the educational science production. Lynne Hartman, who seemingly designs lights for four out of every five shows we do, has created the light design. And most important, Barksdale’s technical team constructed and installed the set; the Carpenter Science Theatre Company has no set construction shop or crew of its own.

We hope this will be the start of a long and beautiful relationship.

Every aspect of Barksdale’s work on the show has come off without a hitch. At least so far…knock on wood. Several other aspects of the production have been the apparent victims of Darwin’s Curse.

Darwin’s Curse is explained on the Internet as follows: “In most games, an enemy has one set of ‘physical’ and ‘behavioural’ characteristics and follows them. In Darwin’s Curse, the powers-that-be randomly assign the enemy with certain characteristics, and then check to see if the design is successful or not. If it was successful, the design is kept; if not, the design goes back to the drawing board. This is what is called Artificial Evolution.”

Well, the “enemy”of Endless Forms Most Wonderful must have been successful all right, because his evil machinations repeated themselves week after week during the rehearsal process, coming close to shutting down the show for good!

In week one, Larry Gard, artistic director of the Carpenter Science Theatre Company and the actor playing Darwin himself in the two-actor show, cut his hand seriously with hedge trimmers, requiring a trip to the emergency room and more stitches than anyone would want. Rehearsals and opening were postponed for a week.

In week two, the original stage manager had to be let go after it was determined by security at the Science Museum that he once had been arrested for skinny dipping in his youth. That was when Billy Christopher Maupin stepped in to take over for his fallen comrade. We were all pleasantly surprised to discover that, as of now, Billy Christopher has no arrest record—at least none that anyone has found out about.

In week three, the director, Tim Ireland, wrenched his back and temporarily lost his ability to walk. That was when Douglas Jones, playwright, stepped in to assume the directorial reins. Tim Ireland, we are pleased to report, is now beginning to feel much better.

The day before opening, Kimberly Jones Clark, the female lead in this two-person show (playing Darwin's wife), ripped a leg muscle while doing the splits in a rehearsal for The Great American Trailer Park Musical at the Firehouse. She missed the final rehearsal of Darwin, but made it, barely able to move, to the first performance the following morning.

Partnerships are a valuable component of nonprofit operations during this tough economy. We are pleased to partner with the Carpenter Science Theatre Company on this brave new play, running Wednesdays through Sundays through May 10. We’re mightily glad, thus far, to have seemingly escaped the dreaded D. C.

Now, as long as no one’s security department finds out that I was sent to detention once in the third grade for chewing gum. Sshhh. Mum’s the word.

--Bruce Miller


Larry Gard said...

Love this, Bruce! I swear, after we close "Endless Forms-," if anyone ever speaks the name "Darwin" in the Eureka Theatre, they're going to have to go run around a stump backward!

I'm so pleased with how our partnership has worked out, and look forward to other projects.

Doug Jones said...

Fortunately. the curse appears to have run its course. And there's no such thing as bad publicity. Thanks Bruce, for sharing news of our production with your readership. I hope you and your family can see the play.

Nan Johnson said...

My kids and I just saw your play "Endless Forms Most Wonderful" performed at the Science Museum of Va. It was truly wonderful. There is so much information within the script that I've not seen elsewhere. I wondered if I could get a copy of the play some way. We are a homeschooling family and would love to use your play as a teaching resource.

Anonymous said...

"In week two, the original stage manager had to be let go after it was determined by security at the Science Museum that he once had been arrested for skinny dipping in his youth."

Seriously??? What does that have to do with his ability to stage manage the show?

Or (more likely) that was a joke and I missed the dry wit. ;)