Rollicking comedy to debut 'Out Loud' series

Play reading of elusive playwright's work is led by acclaimed filmmaker Lynn Hamrick

By Tamra Testerman
Posted 1/15/20

A reading of a play by the elusive Jane Martin called "Anton in Show Business" is billed as a rollicking comedy that follows three actresses as they navigate the strange complexities of staging a classic theatrical production at the turn of the 20th century.

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Rollicking comedy to debut 'Out Loud' series

Play reading of elusive playwright's work is led by acclaimed filmmaker Lynn Hamrick

Posted

A reading of a play by the elusive Jane Martin called "Anton in Show Business" is billed as a rollicking comedy that follows three actresses as they navigate the strange complexities of staging a classic theatrical production at the turn of the 20th century.

Intrigued? Then, stop by the Encore Gallery at the Taos Community Auditorium tomorrow (Thursday, Jan. 16) when director Lynn Hamrick wrangles a group of local actors into a staged reading of the play at 7 p.m., for free.

The reading is part of the new Out Loud series set up by the Taos Center for the Arts in order to invite local directors and writers to experiment with original and published works in a staged reading environment.

Award-winning Taos filmmaker, writer and director Hamrick ("Hiro's Table") is steering the first reading of the new decade. Tempo asked Hamrick a few questions about the play and what to expect. Here are her edited responses.

Why this play?

I first heard about "Anton in Show Business" from another member of the West Coast Actors Studio when I was working in Los Angeles. She always wanted to direct it, but the writer, Jane Martin, had a caveat that it couldn't be produced within a certain mile radius of L.A. I became fascinated - as everyone else - with who is the real Jane Martin? Because she's never been seen in public or given an interview or been there to accept any of her awards in person. I think the play is very funny in the way it deals with the angst of the American theater experience across the spectrum, from small regional venues to New York City, as this group of characters try to mount the classic play "Three Sisters" by Anton Chekhov in San Antonio, Texas. Martin is clever with their dialogue, plus there is an all-female cast playing multiple roles, including the men.

What was your process for casting this reading?

I am the director and facilitator for this reading. Casting is 80 percent of what the director does, and in this case I think we've assembled a stellar cast with Susan Nuss, Tammy Stackpoole, Savannah Holden, Elena Trujillo, Crystal Starr, Jane Ayles and Janay Hair.

How is directing a play different from directing a movie or documentary?

Working with actors in any format is a challenge. You start with the spark. If something engages, the question is, can you work with that material so that you are moved by it, and it makes it out of your head and personal sensibilities to land with an audience? You might call that having a vision. With "Anton" there is an irreverence and poking fun at the sacred art of the stage that I can relate to and hope others can, too. In preparing for this reading I went back to Chekhov's "Three Sisters," not that this play needs an understanding of the original work to be enjoyed, but because I wanted to reacquaint myself with the source. I was struck by how Chekhov is so funny and conversational and real in his work. It is fluid. I think spontaneity or lifelike quality is what I want to capture in this reading. And who knows - maybe it will inspire folks to go back and read Chekhov.

What is next for you?

I had the good fortune to screen my 55-minute documentary film about a Japanese chef, "Hiro's Table," at the Harwood Museum and the Taos Environmental Film Festival last year. We got picked up for distribution by Gravitas Ventures and we will have an iTunes launch on Feb. 4. (Here is the iTunes preorder link: itunes.apple.com/us/movie/hiros-table.) I want everyone and their mother to go to the iTunes store and preorder this film if they haven't seen it or even if they have. This is a shameless self-promotion, but like the struggling actors in "Anton in Show Business," we independent filmmakers are often the director and producers for our projects and we must attract an audience to continue.

I also have a comedy film in the works based on the French novel "I'm Your Man" I am hoping to shoot in New Orleans this year, another labor of love. We have had major stars attached, but still struggle with the financing.

What can our readers expect if they attend this reading?

The audience should expect a robust ride knowing that the actors have rehearsed together once or twice before reading in front of a live audience. The nature of this play is they wrote it with set and costume changes to be performed in front of the audience with no pretense, so it lends itself to a reading.

Final thoughts?

Let's hope 2020 brings more artists manifesting their vision for a more just future.

The Encore Theater at the Taos Community Auditorium is located at 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. For more information on the series, call the Taos Center for the Arts at (575) 758-2052 or visit tcataos.org.

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