Both the CTC and ETC have compelling stories on stage this week
Starting Thursday, you’ve got a few more chances to see several provocative pieces of theatre here in town. At the Chattanooga Theatre Centre, the grand prize winner of the CTC’s eighth biennial New Plays Contest continues through March 29. “Dorothy Parker Would Not Approve” was written by local playwright Stacy Chapman. (All entries into the contest must come from writers living within 100 miles of Chattanooga.)
According to the CTC, the play is “a romantic comedy set in a local watering hole, [which] examines what happens when Mary Burelle must make a decision over the future of her family’s bar. [It] looks at the choice to stay safe with old friends or move into the unknown.” Chapman used the reactions of people she knew to the closing of popular spots around town to create the story.
As for the title, the writer and wit Dorothy Parker, a mainstay of the famous Algonquin Round Table, was also known to like her tipple. She’s quoted as saying, “I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.” And while it was fellow Roundtabler Robert Benchley who quipped, “Why don’t you get out of those wet clothes and into a dry martini?” he might well have been talking to Parker.
Meanwhile, also at the CTC, you can catch staged readings of two of the other winners of the New Plays contest.
“What Happens at the Mall” by Katherine Grosvenor Hutchison will be performed Mar. 19 and 26 at 7 p.m. and Mar. 28 at 8 p.m.
“Second Chances” by Larry Richardson and Sharon Faiola will be performed Mar. 20, 21 and 27 at 8 p.m.
Supporting all of these performances is the best way to make sure live theatre continues to thrive.
Over at the Ensemble Theatre of Chattanooga, you’ve got four more opportunities to see their production of “Talking With…” by Jane Martin. This 1982 piece, which is made up of 11 10-minute monologues, each featuring a different woman character, is somewhat legendary in theatre circles. As the Chicago Reader pointed out some years ago: “I don’t even know if ‘Jane Martin’ exists. According to theater lore, the manuscript for ‘Talking With . . .’ simply appeared on the doorstep of the Actors Theater of Louisville one morning in 1982. Despite the play’s success, the author has never been identified.”
He or she has not been positively identified to this day—but the play’s monologues are as funny and moving as ever. According to ETC, “Talking With…” is best described as “Idiosyncratic characters amuse, move and frighten, always speaking from the depths of their souls. They include a baton twirler, a fundamentalist snake handler, an ex-rodeo rider and an actress willing to go to any length to get a job.”
Bored by basketball? Longing for a culture fix? Then hie thee to the CTC or ETC this weekend.
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Chattanooga Theatre Centre, 400 River St. (423)267-8531, theatrecentre.com
Ensemble Theatre of Chattanooga, 5600 Brainerd Rd. (inside Eastgate Town Center), (423) 602-864, ensembletheatreofchattanooga.com