Theatre Artists Workshop‘s next event is “Down the Rabbit Hole: The Only Way Out is Through.”
That’s almost a metaphor for the low-key, highly productive non-profit. For 38 years, they’ve been up and down. But they keep coming through.
Theatre Artists Workshop began in Westport in 1983. Keir Dullea transplanted his Los Angeles career to the East Coast. Conceived as a playground or gym for professional theater artists, he based it on an LA organization they loved. James Mapes was a co-founder.
Ever since — in different locations — the Workshop has continued. It’s a place to hone skills, develop new work, take artistic risks and get rigorous critiques — away from the glare of agents, and commercial concerns.
Plays developed have gone on to Broadway, Off-Broadway, film and TV.
The Workshop’s original home — the Greens Farms Arts Center — ended when the town reclaimed the space for an elementary school. Most recently, the pandemic brought an eviction from the “black box” space they’d enjoyed for 25 years.
The Workshop is not the only victim of COVID. Live theater everywhere has been on hold. But local members met weekly via Zoom. They did what the Workshop always has: provide a “gym” to workout, and get feedback.
In October they produced “Tawlight Zone” on Zoom. “Down the Rabbit Hole” — a series of short plays — is also virtual. It’s accessible any time from now througg May 24. Click here for tickets.
As usual, Westporters are featured.
Susan Jacobson wrote and performs “My Story.” It was inspired by an interview with a woman who had “traveled down the rabbit hole” into QAnon. Disillusioned by everything she once believed in, she struggles to free herself from a dangerous lie.
Initially, Jacobson said, she thought all Q followers were “crazies.” But as she read about the woman — who had worked on Bernie Sanders’ campaign — she recognized “the common story we all have: a desire to belong, make a difference, find validation and be part of something bigger than ourselves.”
Melody James is featured as an actor and director in 3 “Rabbit Hole” plays. A noted member of Staples Players — the high school troupe — in the 1960s, her professional credits include stage, TV and film. She also taught theater at Vassar and Muhlenberg, and playmaking for the Westport Country Playhouse.
For “Rabbit Hole,” James directs “Trio Asphodel,” in which 3 female friends face a friend’s suicide and discover a secret. She also performs 3 roles in the dark comedy “The Book Lover” (an amusing unraveling of a revenge murder), and portrays a local theater director in the comedy “Rowan’s Last Bow.”
Longtime Westporter Linde Gibb gives a tail-wagging performance as Judy, an abandoned blind chihuahua in an animal shelter. “Good” is the hilarious-yet-heartbreaking story of 2 older dogs bonding, as they await adoption.
Intrigued? Click below for the trailer.
FUN THEATRE ARTISTS WORKSHOP ENCORE: Theatre Artists Workshop alumni include Anne Baxter, Theodore Bikel, Dorothy and Ed Bryce, Rita and Win Elliot, Pat Englund, John Franklin, June Havoc, Fred Hellerman, Ring Lardner Jr., Lucille Lortel, David Rogers, Brett Somers, Haila Stoddard, Max Wilk and Maggie Williams.