When I found out this play was chosen for remount at CTGLA's Block Party, I cracked open the script, read about three pages and then discreetly placed it somewhere near the bottom of the pile on my desk. It was not exactly easy to follow on paper. But theatre is meant to be performed, so I gave it a rest and waited until showtime.
Sometimes I miss the days of seeing plays by myself in New York. When you see a play by yourself, you don't have to worry about what your partner is thinking, if they are enjoying the show or if it reflecting poorly on your taste in theatre. Since starting this website, I have made an effort to bring a guest with me on all my theatre expeditions 1) so that I can expose more people to enjoying the magic of theatre and 2) so that they can take my photo for the site. For this performance of Nancy Keystone's Ameryka, I was grateful to return to the experience of watching a play alone.
The first thing I wrote down in my notebook was
really beautiful imagery
I want to be Nancy Keystone.
I was not expecting to like this play. And I ended up loving it. The way Nancy Keystone has established, created and taken ownership of style in this play is something to aspire to. And let me say, this play could not be a father leap from my traditional favorites. I'm a kitchen sink, modern realism, Arthur Miller sometimes Chekhov, mostly drama kind of gal. (Typing that out, it actually sounds boring as hell. I think my style goes much deeper than that, because I like a lot of contemporary British theatre, but that's for another post) ANYWAY, I was surprised by how much I liked this intricately stylized piece. Yes, it is stylized. It caries many stories at a time and it dances from the historical to the fantastical. I never would have dreamed of directing a show like this...until now. But the reason this all works, is that it is grounded. Keystone's choices are fully committed to. Then they get even better because they are well-dressed, well lit and immaculately staged.
I hate to say what happens in Ameryka stays in Ameryka, but this is something I would completely recommend seeing before I go off and try to explain it to you. What I will say is it deals with the Polish revolution of the 1980s, intertwining this fight and struggle for freedom with times American did the same, spanning from the 1700s to the present. If that description already got you off board, then I rebuke that spirit of disinterest and encourage you to get yourself to this show before it closes its very short run this Sunday evening. This run really is terribly short, because way more people and theatre-makers in LA need to see this show. But such is the nature of Block Party.
And look, you may not understand everything that is happening in this two hours and forty-five minutes piece, but you may also be surprised as what is cultivated in your heart as a result of this history, action and design. You might be surprised at what sticks with you.
I would go as far to say that the style and direction of this play has really broadened my horizons to the type of theatre I am capable of creating. As I continue to research and draft for a number of adaptations I am working on this year (be on the lookout!), Critical Mass Performance Group and Nancy Keystone have inspired me in what it means to truly go outside the box while maintaining powerful, effective story-telling. Please adjust your plans and see Ameryka before it closes this Sunday April 29 at the Kirk Douglas Theatre.