Vermont Actors’ Repertory Theatre Presents
The Savannah Disputation by Evan Smith
Vermont Actors’ Repertory Theatre presents the timely comedy, The Savannah Disputation by Evan Smith, on, November 17, 18, 19 & 20 at 7:30 p.m. and November 21 at 2:00 p.m. at the Paramount Brickbox Theatre, Center Street, Rutland.
The Savannah Disputation has appeared in theatres in Boston, New York and Washington D.C., among others. The Vermont Actors’ Rep production will be done in the full round (audience on all four sides of the stage) and therefore seating is limited.
At its core, Evan Smith’s recent comedy is a sly, entertaining script that wrestles with the polarizing religious debate that fills the national dialogue. Yet the laughs that pepper Savannah Disputation come with the regularity of a TV sitcom. There’s a stealth theme about tolerance and intellectual humility lurking beneath the laughs.
Mary and Margaret, almost-elderly sisters living together in Savannah, Ga., have long settled into a life in which combative Mary fights with every shopkeeper over pennies and meek Margaret perpetually wears an apron to keep house. Every Thursday, she makes dinner for their parish priest.
The sisters’ familiar pattern is shattered when Margaret opens the front door to admit the young dark haired proselytizer, Melissa. Her cheery manner disguises her biblical absolutism. She views Catholicism as evil and the sisters as misguided souls bound for eternal damnation. “Nice,” she warns them, “doesn’t get you into heaven.”
Righteous Mary throws the girl out, but Margaret, timid in her faith and keenly aware of her mortality, is not so sure. Shaken, she invites the girl back. Predictably, Melissa’s absurdly literal and rigid didacticism drives a wedge between the sisters.
Mary is soon comically reduced to defending the infallibility of the Pope’s pronouncements by saying, “If you never hear it in the first place, you don’t have to believe it!” She knows she’s losing the argument, so, without telling him what she’s up to, she brings in the big gun, her one friend at Blessed Sacrament Church, Father Murphy. This begins an evening in Savannah that will leave audiences laughing and thinking.
As local audiences will learn, this new playwright knows how to write crackling dialogue, craft smart jokes and construct a scene and a play. The Savannah Disputation engages the heart and mind through laughter, start to finish.
The director is Peter Marsh of Rutland. He has directed over 130 productions in 40 years. A member of the New England Theatre Conference College of Fellows, he directed for the National High School Theatre Institute at Northwestern University where he was a national directing fellow. He spent many years as a local high school theatre director both at West Rutland and then at Mill River. For ART he has directed A Christmas Carol, Cinderella Waltz, White Liars/Black Comedy, Twelve Angry Jurors, Almost, Maine and The Rise and Rise of Daniel Rocket. He is also one of the Company’s Producing Directors.
Cast in the show are Judi Tompkins as Mary, Sandra Gartner as Margaret, Julie Redington as Melissa and Richard Frank as Father Murphy.
The play is stage-managed by Bridget Scott, and assistant stage-managed by Alex Lucci. The lighting design is by David Lane, properties design is by Tom Brown, costume design is by Nancy Ellery, technical direction is by Doug Yaremchuk and graphic design is by Grove Illustration & Design: Marna Grove.
Reservations are available by calling the Paramount Box Office at 802-775-0903. Tickets will be sold at the door as well, on all nights of performance. Tickets are $15 for general admission. Wednesday, November 17 will be “Pay What You Can Afford Night” with a $10 minium. For more information about Vermont Actors’ Repertory Theatre visit the Company’s Website at www.actorsrepvt.org
Vermont Actors Repertory Theatre Company will produce three more shows this season: Presenting Alan Ball!! (4 one-acts by this exiting playwright) in February, The Best of the Nor’Easterns featuring The Window and Best Wine, as well as the three winners of the Nor’Eastern Play Writing Contest 2011 in Showcase in May at the Paramount’s Brick Box Theatre.