Theater By the Book presents ‘The Credeaux Canvas’
KNOW & GO
WHO: Sierra Stages and Miners Foundry Cultural Center present
WHAT: Theater By the Book: “The Credeaux Canvas”
WHEN: Wednesday, March 11. Doors 7 p.m., show 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Miners Foundry Cultural Center, 325 Spring Street, Nevada City
TICKETS: $10 Suggested Donation, Tickets are available online at http://www.minersfoundry.org, by phone 530-265-5040 or in person at the Miners Foundry, or at the door
On Wednesday, March 11, Theater By the Book presents “The Credeaux Canvas,” a complex love story that shines a sharp light on the things we give up in the fight for what we want. Co-presented by Sierra Stages and the Miners Foundry, Theater By the Book is a series of informal play readings for the community.
Written by Keith Bunin and directed by Jonathan Hansard, “The Credeaux Canvas” centers on Winston, a young painter who shares an apartment with Jamie, the son of a prominent art dealer. When Jamie’s father dies and leaves him nothing in his will, Jamie falls into despair and neither Winston nor Jamie’s girlfriend Amelia can do anything to help him. But then Jamie has a brilliant idea: He convinces Tess, one of his father’s richest, most important collectors, that his father left him an original and extremely rare painting by a little-known French master Jean Paul Credeaux. Jamie talks Winston into creating this painting with Amelia as the model. The relationships between the three begin to shift as their needs and desires become more evident. Once the painting is completed, and Tess enters their lives, everything comes out in the open, and no one escapes unscathed — the damage is tragically done.
Actor Trevor Wade suggested “The Credeaux Canvas” for Theater by the Book: “The play has long been a private love of mine. In four short scenes, four actors cover so much of what it means to me to be an artist, an appreciator of art, and especially what it meant to me to be young and ambitious in New York City. I relate dearly to Winston’s struggle to find his own voice — and, in some ways, his own identity — by imitating the techniques of the ‘Masters’ and especially to Amelia’s recollection about the energy with which she attacked the city upon arrival and the fear of her ‘life draining out of [her]’ as she realizes passion and energy aren’t enough to make a dream real.”
Originally, Wade was slated to direct, but he also wanted to play the role of Winston, so he approached Jonathan Hansard to direct the reading. “I cast myself as Winston because I’m a selfish little diva and I wanted to chew on this bizarre young man for a while,” says Wade.
Hansard is making his directorial debut with “The Credeaux Canvas:” “Presenting plays in this context allows a director to really focus on the text without getting too wrapped up in the technical aspects associated with full productions. Allowing the audience to build the set in their mind—to imagine the action—gives the director and the actors the opportunity to spend more time exploring the characters themselves. ‘The Credeaux Canvas’ packs a lot of emotional depth into each of its characters. As a new director, dedicating most of our rehearsal time to understanding the characters has been a great experience.”
Wade and Hansard had no disagreements about casting the other three roles in the play: Lois Masten plays the art collector Tess, Daniel King plays Jamie, and Michaela King plays Amelia. Wade, Masten and Michaela King were all in the cast of the Sierra Stages production of “Hand to God” last spring, and Hansard and Daniel King were both in the cast of the Sierra Stages production of “Cabaret” last summer.
Wade waxes enthusiastically about all three actors: “Lois’ command of any script she gets her hands on is palpable and she deftly brings Tess the underestimated power and tender authenticity that elevates her to much more than a sweet lady some delinquents are trying to con. For the role of Jamie, we were incredibly lucky that as generous and loving an actor as Dan was available to bring the bulletproof charm Jamie needs — all it takes is one of his smiles and you’re whisked away into believing whatever myth he casts you as the hero in. And, Michaela is brighter and more brilliant than moonlight — I can think of no one it would be easier to look at as closely as Winston looks at Amelia.”
Now in its eighth season, Theater By the Book is an opportunity for local theater artists and audiences to enjoy material that would otherwise be unavailable. The beauty of the reading format is that it offers the text — the playwright’s words — but without making the demands that is routinely necessary for a full production. All that is needed for a reading is a director, a cast of actors whose rehearsal commitment is quite brief, and the audience’s imagination.
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