NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

March 28, 2013

A comic view on survival, escape

Salem Theatre Co. showcases one-act plays by Nikole Beckwith

(Continued)

“Split” came about when the theater lost the rights to a musical they had planned to produce, and Fogle saw an opportunity to ask Beckwith for work they could stage.

“I sent them a bunch of plays and said, ‘Here are all of these themes of survival and escape,’” she said. “Choose whichever ones you like. He picked from those and said, ‘Do you have a couple of monologues I could throw in?’”

This production marks the New England debut of this collection of Beckwith’s works, which includes three short plays and two monologues.

Gary LaParl, who is directing “Split,” has experimented with the best sequence for these short dramas.

“At the moment, what we’ve done is put them together in the way that it makes sense for them to evolve,” he said.

LaParl, who said he has had “a blast” working on the plays, appreciates the vision that unites Beckwith’s works.

“They each hold truths about living in this modern society that has been built for us,” he said. “While these plays may not offer hard solutions, Nikole does offer the viewer the comfort of, ‘Oh, good. I’m not the only one.’”

Each play departs from a unique premise, however, which in part reflects their origins in different situations.

“One of the monologues is from a show, ‘Let Me Collect Myself,’ that happened at Ars Nova here in the city,” Beckwith said. Ars Nova is an off-Broadway, nonprofit theater in Manhattan that stages works by up-and-coming playwrights.

“It’s based on interviews and articles and imaginings of people who obsessively collect things,” she said. “It considers what their collections say about them and what it might feel like to be collected. Any obsession like that is a form of escape.”

One of the plays, “Play for an All White Stage,” got its title and parts of its plot from the circumstances in which it was originally staged.

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