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Michael Peterson: The They at Rogue 2012

IN THE March 1 ISSUE

FROM THE 2012 Articles,
andArts & Entertainment
SECTIONS

by Michael Peterson

This week we are taking a closer look at some of the performers coming to the 2012 Rogue Festival. Check back here every day through Thursday for more articles & soon for Rogue reviews & be sure and check out the ones we have already posted!

I believe someone once said, “First attempts at writing are inevitably autobiographical in nature.” This truism is born out in my first project, a play about a young man and his relationship with his mentally ill mother, entitled The They, which will have its premier as an Artists’ Repertory Theatre production at the Severance building in the Tower District, as part of this year’s 2012 Rogue Festival at the following dates and times:

Friday 3/2 8:30 p.m., Sunday 3/4 4:00 p.m., Wednesday 3/7 8:30 p.m., Saturday 3/10 6:00 p.m.

The play itself is a short one act version of what was originally a longer work, but which was slightly edited to fit the format of the Rogue through a workshop process involving input from the participating actors, producers and the director, yours truly. It portrays several strained but existentially hilarious conversations between a young man who is attempting to apply the tools of logic, including the venerable chestnut known as “Occam’s Razor” in order to engage with and support his highly illogical mother. (The phrase “Occam’s Razor” was originally considered as a possible title for the play).

Through the course of the piece, the viewer sees and hears the types of confused thinking that the mother is subject to, and witnesses the young man’s increasingly futile attempts to break through the fog of her insanity to reach some stable island of rational thinking. Although he is repeatedly stymied in this endeavor, in the end it becomes clear that he does love her but still hopes for some possible resolution to her mental illness issues.

The two actors involved in the project, Matt Otstot as the young man, and Jessica Reedy as his long-suffering mother, are seasoned veterans of the Fresno community theatre scene, having worked with various organizations in the past such as Theatre 3, Woodward Shakespeare Festival and Theatre Ventoux, among others. Matt is also recognizable as a local television news personality on the NBC affiliate KSEE Channel 24. It has been a pleasure to collaborate with them on this creative process as they have brought new life, fresh twists, and a genuine interpersonal chemistry to the words and characters as I wrote them.

Writing the play was for me a somewhat cathartic process. The conversations portrayed are very close to actual transcriptions of personal interactions and phones calls that happened over the course of several years. I would often find myself setting down the phone after one of these and thinking, “That was just too weird. It ought to be in a play.” And after this occurred several times, I began to actually set the conversations down on paper, or in the computer, as it were, and eventually, after some editing and revision, put them together into the play which the viewers will see. These scenes are the reality that I have personally dealt with over the past two decades, sometimes with compassion, often with frustration, at the best of times with humor, grace, and equanimity. I hope you will be able to join us at the Severance and that you will enjoy the premier of this new play.

Watch for more Rogue articles this week, as well as Rogue reviews beginning this weekend. Check out our Rogue Performances event page for info on more of the performers and our Rogue Preview article.

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