Something exciting is coming to the Yorkshire Playhouse in May. For two nights only, original works by some of York’s most celebrated dramatists will be performed as YP presents winning submissions from their recent playwriting competition.
One act plays The Funeral by Don Keelan-White and Painting Lavender by Mitchell Roush will be performed May 17th and 18th. Tickets go on sale on May 1st and will be $10. Auditions for the shows will be April 5th, 6:30PM - 8:00PM & April 6th, 10:00AM - 12:00PM . The directors are looking for nine men and women of a range of ages to participate.
Both of the shows will explore ideas about family and individuality, the bonds that hold people together or hold them in place.
The Funeral is about a woman and her two adult daughters working through conflict in the aftermath of the funeral of a prominent member of the community. It’s set in a small town, much like this one. Old resentments and family secrets arise as the women search for truth and a loving relationship that can move past judgement and expectation.
The show will feature four women, ranging in age from 30 to 70ish. The Funeral both celebrates and critiques life in a small, close-knit community. “We pride ourselves on life in a small town,” said Keelan-White, who has lived in York for 40+ years. “We come to each other’s aid when tragedy hits. There are a lot of great reasons to live in and raise a family in a small town. But at the same time, people in a small town know your business, whether you want them to or not.” One of the characters in The Funeral has left the small town of her youth behind--and her family with it--because of the judgement she faced for her life choices. The show illustrates the mixed blessing of living in relationship with others, when their support can also include their criticism.
Similarly, Roush’s show delves into the relationship between an overprotective mother and a son who is striving for independence. The relationship is complicated by the son’s blindness. The story is told in a series of flashbacks as the son reflects on his life with his mother. “It’s a show about self-discovery and regret,” says Roush. “The characters find the courage to try something they’ve always wanted or they are looking back and realizing that though their motives were healthy at the time, the decisions they made at the time were wrong.”
Painting Lavender features roles for males age 7-29, a teenage female and a woman in her 50s.
The show was born out of turmoil in Roush’s life, as he wrote it in a frenzy of emotion after his mother was diagnosed with cancer last summer. While the plot is fiction, the emotional journey of the mother and son in the show was an authentic conduit for Roush to process his own grief, anger, and fear. What started as a therapeutic exercise developed into a piece unlike anything he’s ever written before. The deeply personal show is a challenging thing for Roush to present, as he admits he’s not usually very open about his private life. “It will be interesting to see how people respond to it,” he said. “It’s pulling back the curtain a whole lot more than I usually do with my public facade.”
It is fitting that relationship is at the heart of both of these shows as there is a close relationship between the playwrights as well. Keelan-White has been Roush’s teacher and mentor for 15 years. “This production is coming full circle for me,” said Roush. “KW is the reason I’m in this arena at all, so it’s really neat to be able to collaborate with him on a special project like this.”
I encourage everyone to come out to support these local playwrights. It will be an evening of theatre you won’t want to miss!