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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Distinguished Louisville Actors Reunite in Jordan Harrison’s "Futura"

Review by Rachel White.

Entire contents are copyright © 2012 Rachel White. All rights reserved.

Tad Chitwood and Laurene Scalf in rehearsal for
Jordan Harrison's Futura. Photo courtesy of Theatre [502].
When Amy Attaway moved back to Louisville from New York, she didn’t think she would stay. She wasn’t sure she could be a real artist in Louisville or that there were people she wanted to work with. Then she auditioned for the Necessary Theatre, a company dedicated to rarely performed plays, and her feelings changed. She met Necessary’s artistic director, Tad Chitwood; she met actress Laurene Scalf; she soon met young artists like herself – Gil Reyes and Mike Brooks – artists she would soon see as artistic collaborators, mentors and friends. Two years later, Amy found herself directing Tad and Laurene in Impossible Marriage. She began to see herself as a director. 

“It was the beginning of so many things,” Amy said. “Necessary gave me and Gil and Mike some of our first really important artistic experiences after we moved back to Louisville and helped us launch into the local theater scene in a really meaningful way.” 

Now, seven years after Impossible Marriage, Tad, Laurene and Amy are working together once again, this time for Amy’s company, Theatre [502]; and the relationship seems to have come full circle. They are working on Jordan Harrison’s Futura, a thriller about a dystopian future in which books and paper have been banned and two typographers are trying to save the world. It is a play that speaks deeply to the mission of [502] and to all of the artists involved because it is about passion and teaching.

“I love this play,” Amy says. “I think it’s brilliant, so timely, so smart and I think it addresses issues that I find personally really moving. It has a finger on the pulse of the whole zeitgeist right now.” That zeitgeist, according to Amy, is the advance of the digital age, the age of Nooks, Kindles and iPhones. When Amy read it, she immediately responded to its ideas and thought of Tad and Laurene.

“I thought, if I’m going to do the play, I have to have Laurene, and I have to have Tad. When I read this play, I heard their voices in my head.” 

Tad and Laurene were equally taken by the play, its courage at addressing the big ideas and the way that it directly engages the issues of the digital age that we are facing now.

“We’re moving into an age where books, actual physical books, are becoming quaint,” says Tad. “The transition from oral to written communication was traumatic and ultimately great. Are we creating super literacy or super illiteracy?”

I sensed when talking to Tad, Laurene and Amy that there is an anxiety about this kind of change, and it is an anxiety especially potent for theater artists, who depend on passion and love of language for their livelihood and for the future of their art.  However, they are happy to go through the process together. The play is not an easy one with its unusual form and subject matter, but they have developed a deep trust. This trust allows them to push new boundaries and keeps them honest.

“I know their tricks,” Amy says. And they know hers.

In many ways, Tad and Laurene are passing the theater torch on to the next generation of artists – artists like Amy. The mission of Necessary flows on in the company like Theatre [502]. Like the typographers in the play, they hold strong to their passion, a passion for an art form whose future always seems so precarious. 

As Amy says, “The play is about time and it’s what you pass along to the younger generation. To be working on that idea with Tad and Laurene is pretty exciting. Also, they really get to fight – really smart intellectual fight – which is really fun to watch.”

Futura

by Jordan Harrison
directed by Amy Attaway

June 1-9, 2012

Theatre [502]
Victor Jory Theatre at
Actors Theatre of Louisville
316 West Main Street
Louisville, KY 40202


      

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