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Sept. 16, 2004
by ELLIN BELTZ
The next two weekends bring
a rare opportunity to local theatergoers, to attend staged readings
of award-winning plays entered in Earth Matters on Stage: A Redwood
Coast Festival of New Plays [EMOS].
The idea that became the EMOS
Festival hatched more than a decade ago as Larry Fried and Theresa
May began their cutting edge work on ecodrama with a series of
workshops and conferences titled "Theater in the Ecological
Age," and a subsequent book, Greening Up Our Houses:
A Guide to a More Ecologically Sound Theatre.
According to Fried, who serves
as artistic director for the EMOS Festival, "What came out
of the conferences covered the whole theater perspective, not
just what happens in the organization, but how theaters could
be more environmentally responsible." Fried noted that participants
also looked at a number of theatrical pieces, looking for the
connection between theater and the environment.
Three years ago, when Fried
and May moved to Humboldt, he said they realized, "Ecodrama
is a natural for Humboldt County." Ultimately Humboldt both
inspired and supports ecodrama and this playwrights' festival,
a partnership community event by Humboldt State University and
the Ink People Center for the Arts.
EMOS emerged with a roar on
the national theater world. The competition -- the first of its
kind -- drew 147 entries from the U.S. and Canada. Several winning
plays will be read or presented as staged readings during the
course of the festival. Additionally three local theater groups
are participating in EMOS: Dell'Arte presents Shadow of Giants
by Matthew Graham Smith; Redwood Curtain Theatre premieres Bindlestiff's
Dance Hall by Sue Bigelow-Marsh; and the Klamath Theatre
Project reads its latest, Salmon Is Everything.
Fried said this year has begun
a process of "building relationships between local theaters
and HSU, which is committed to the idea of sustainable economy,
in environmental studies, theater and in partnerships with the
Humboldt State President Rollin
Richmond will open the awards ceremony for the winning plays,
kicking off the festival at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 24. in
HSU's Gist Hall. A staged reading of the winning entry in this
year's festival, Odin's Horse by Robert Koon, will be
presented at 8 p.m. in Gist Hall.
A staged reading is a presentation
with actors, minimal staging, sets and costumes. It gives the
audience an opportunity to help develop new theatrical pieces:
A laugh or a frown in a critical moment can lead to new insight,
or the awareness that something isn't working right.
Odin's Horse, based on the poetic Edda composed in Old
Norse around 1200 A.D., describes Odin's agony as he sacrificed
himself and hung for nine days from the tree of life. The name
of the tree translates to "Odin's Horse" because he
rode it through the depths and heights of his mind until he learned
the secrets of the runes. The poet wrote that Odin said, "I
grew and took joy in my growth, I was led to a word, from a deed
to another deed."
In the play, a writer struggling
to reorient himself in the face of professional and romantic
success meets a tree-sitter whose commitment to the forest causes
him to reexamine the trade-offs that support his good fortune.
Simultaneously at 8 p.m. another
treesitter drama, Shadow of Giants, plays at the Dell'Arte's
Carlo Theatre in Blue Lake, while Bindlestiff's Dance Hall
premieres at the Redwood Curtain Theatre in Eureka.
Bindlestiff's Dance Hall repeats at 8 p.m. on Sept. 25 and 30 as well as
Oct. 1 and 2, with a matinee at 2 p.m. Sept. 26. Shadow of
Giants has three additional shows: 2 and 8 p.m. Sept. 25,
and 8 p.m. Sept. 26, all in Blue Lake.
The remaining four theatrical
events in the festival are a reading of Salmon Is Everything
by the Klamath Theatre Project at 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 26, at
Dell'Arte's Carlo Theatre; a reading of The Basketmaker
by David M. Baughan at 8 p.m. Sept. 29, at Gist Hall; and two
staged readings of Girl Science by Larry Loebell, at 8
p.m. Oct. 1 and 2, in Gist Hall.
A panel discussion on the nature
and meaning of ecodrama will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday,
Sept. 25, in Gist Hall. Panelists include Theresa May, visiting
playwrights Lisa Giordano, Larry Loebell and Robert Koon, Michael
Fields, managing director of the Dell'Arte Players, award-winning
playwright Jane Lapiner of Petrolia's Human Nature theater troupe,
and Jose Cruz Gonzalez, from Cornerstone Theater Company in Los
Angeles, one of the festival's judges.
An EMOS pass good for
all the events is available for $36 from the HSU ticket office,
826-3928. Dell'Arte (668-5663) and Redwood Curtain (443-7688)
have tickets for their individual events. More information is
available on the EMOS Web site: www.humboldt.edu/emos.
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