‘Strange Sightings…’ entertains at Foothill Theatre | TheUnion.com

‘Strange Sightings…’ entertains at Foothill Theatre

The play is a charming, offbeat coming-of-age story about a quirky household of three women, who join forces against their own loneliness and a belligerent, flag-waving neighbor, and discover the little miracles that can occur if we just, for a moment, let our defenses down.

A dozen artists have come together, from as far away as New York and Seattle, to make this play happen. The playwright is Jacklyn Maddux, who not only writes plays but stars in them (as witnessed in the recent “Madwoman of Chaillot” at The Center for the Arts). Having spent most of her life in New York City, she now lives in Penn Valley. This, her fourth play, was chosen by the Foothill Theatre Company for a staged reading in their “New Voices of The Wild West Series.” Very well received, it was then decided by Foothill Theatre to offer it as a mainstage production.

The director is Sands Hall, who is also a respected talent in the community.

Q: What was it like, cutting your teeth in the New York theatre scene?

A: Amazing. I had wonderful and rare opportunities to appear in productions and workshops with Denzel Washington, Kathy Bates, Dianne Wiest and Robert Forster among others. I worked at the Public Theatre when Joe Papp was the producer and every theatre at the Public was filled with either new works or Shakespeare. It was incredible! Off Off Broadway was booming with the likes of Sam Shepard and Patty Smith. Cafe Cino had already happened but as an actor you never stopped working and everything and anything was being produced. It was an amazing training ground that doesn’t exist so much anymore because of economics. Now everyone goes to graduate school. I am honored to be a member of the Ensemble Studio Theatre in NYC that is a playwrights theatre and has an amazing actor membership.

Q: How did you come to live in Nevada County?

A: Let’s see…what brought me here? I was born and raised in San Francisco and Walnut Creek but have spent most of my life in New York City. But this has always been home, and Arthur Pierson (the sculptor and painter and man I married who was born in Manhattan) really wanted to live in Northern California. When I took the job in North Carolina, we started coming out here all the time. We’d drive and when we came to the eastern side of the Sierras I’d always cry. And then I’d cry when we left. Taking this as a definite sign that it was time to come home, we bought a house, not knowing anything about the community, but just based on my having backpacked in the Sierras all through my youth. Since I always passed through the foothills before each backpacking adventure, they seemed like an obvious place to settle, because of all the positive and beautiful memories.

Q: Anything you’d like to say about your inspiration for Strange Sightings in the Great Southwest?

A: I love that Strange Sightings was written in Happisburgh, Norfolk, England, in a lighthouse cottage where I went to write something – I didn’t know what – and had just a few ideas. I stayed two months and this very American play got written. The distance from home, the silence and the stark beauty of Norfolk was a wonderful writing partner.

WHAT: Foothill Theatre Company’s world premiere of “Strange Sightings in the Great Southwest” by Jacklyn Maddux

WHEN: Preview performance tonight; opening Friday and playing through June 4. Times: Thursdays at 7 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m.

WHERE: Nevada Theatre, 401 Broad St., Nevada City

ADMISSION: Regular ticket prices Thursdays and Sundays are $24; Fridays and Saturdays, $26. Discounts available for students, seniors and groups of 10 or more.

INFORMATION: Call the box office at 265-8587 (toll free 1-888-730-8587); http://www.foothilltheatre.org

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