There is a Taos-inspired theatrical adventure awaiting you at the back lot of Taos Center for the Arts, at 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, on Saturday and Sunday (Oct. 10-11), at 4 p.m.
A quartet of actors working with TCA's Theater and Program Manager Chelsea Reidy will undertake a drive-in staged reading in the round of Lauren Gunderson's play "The Revolutionists." This is a play that can bring many real-life issues to the forefront - although written in the context of the French Revolution. Reidy is known for collaborating with other "theater makers, thinkers, designers and technicians, actors who want to create engaging and relevant live performance in unique ways."
Gunderson would likely approve of efforts to move forward the conversation of many controversial issues that not unsurprisingly were also alive during the French Revolution. The actors include some well known to local theater audiences and some new: Gina Gargone as playwright Olympe de Gouges, assassin Charlotte Corday played by Mikala Martinez, Rita O'Connell embraces the role of former queen Marie Antoinette and Haitian rebel Marianne Angelle is played by Crystal Starr.
The women, according to press material, "hang out, murder Marat and try to beat back the extremist insanity of 1793 Paris. This grand and dream-tweaked comedy is about violence and legacy, art and activism, feminism and terrorism, compatriots and chosen sisters, and how we go about changing the world. It's a true story. Or total fiction. Or a play about a play. Or a raucous resurrection … that ends in a song and a scaffold."
Tempo caught up with director Reidy and two of the actors - O'Connell and Starr. Here are the highlights.
Why this play now?
Reidy: It's timely. It's about a writer. It's about women. It's about justice. It's about privilege and who has it and why. It's about a vigilante taking matters into her own hands. It's about sisterhood. It's about theater. And it's set in the comfortable distant past of the French Revolution so we can laugh at all this while making powerful connections to what is going on in America right now.
Starr: Diversity builds character. The challenges we face today are here to help us create, innovate and build from our connections to the land and each other. We need entertainment now more than ever. Sometimes it takes being fed up and backed into a corner for our true purpose to surface. I believe this production will give the audience the confidence that anything is possible, history repeats itself, women are essential to the movement because passion and dedication are key ingredients.
O'Connell: Originally we considered "The Revolutionists" as part of Curling Iron Production's 2020 fall season. Given COVID-19, we are pleased to work with TCA to bring a staged reading of this play out just in time for the 2020 election.
What have you discovered in the rehearsal process?
Reidy: We've been rehearsing for the last month and addressed several challenges the drive-in format presents. This is a staged reading. Actors will move about the space. We are exploring how gestures translate for an audience, and how actors connect with each other.
Starr: Uh ... Lol! I can't sing! I already knew I couldn't, but this production requires me to publicly admit that. Not diggin' it at all, however, these ladies give me the confidence to do it. Also, the rehearsal process surfaced the challenges a traditional play presents in an unconventional format. I love it! It is another silver lining amid a global shakedown.
O'Connell : We've missed working together. While rehearsals are a distant affair, it's been such a pleasure to stand together and yell lines at each other. Like so many things, the performing arts have taken a real hit during coronavirus. We've also discovered a new performance style. Playing in a parking lot to cars is unusual, but a more interesting challenge is knowing that our voices will be heard through people's car stereos. It's radio theater meets live theater. We're eager to see how it's received!
For details and tickets, visit tcataos.org. There is a suggested donation of $30 per vehicle.