Once again the Random People’s Monologue/Dialogue project is ready to delight the community with “Tell Me More,” this year’s annual program of funny, poignant, and thought-provoking short plays, all written, directed, acted, and staged by talented Southern Humboldt residents.
Performances will be held at the Mateel Community Center this Friday and Saturday evening, March, 16 and 17, followed by a matinee on Sunday, March 18. Showtime is at 8 p.m. for the evening shows, 2 p.m. for the matinee. Doors open a half-hour before each performance.
Tickets are available at the door only, for sliding scale amounts of $12 to $20.
This year’s show, produced by Anna Rogers and Marilyn Foote, includes nine short plays that cover the emotional spectrum from tragic to hilarious, and some that penetrate the additional dimension of true weirdness.
A brief opening that introduces Rogers and Foote as well as former directors Jenny Edwards and Susan Alexander, segues into “Tour de Farce,” a TV talent show audition with Foote as a woman so desperate for fame that she auditions as three different persons, a singer, a song-and-dance man, and a monologist adding her own unique interpretation to “The Vagina Monologues.”
Foote’s manic energy is countered by the snide, jaded director, played by Anson Wait, and the reasonable assistant director, played by Jan Truesdell. A mysterious voice from Above brings the episode an unexpected but satisfying conclusion.
”Tour de Farce” was written and directed by Jeanne York.
Next comes a powerful monologue, “Wild Horses,” written by Patricia MacDonald and directed by Susan Alexander. Cynthia Martells gives an intense portrayal of an unnamed woman who recounts the heartbreaking story of her twin sister Julia, who devoted her life to an alcoholic husband. In the course of her narration, the protagonist reveals the details of her own chaotic story, the roots of her troubles in childhood abuse, her betrayal of her sister, and finally her struggle to find a better life.
Comedic relief is next with “It’s Not Cricket,” written by Vikki Young, directed by Jenny Edwards, and starring Michael Halston as a clueless female lecturer, reminiscent of a British Julia Child, who tries to explain the rules of cricket to an American audience that is equally clueless -- even Rogers, can’t resist chiming in with apple-polishing responses.
Joe Hiney plays an argumentative baseball fan. Susan Alexander, Jenny Edwards, Margaret Lewis, and Gardiner Boyce are other lecture attendees who never speak but eloquently express their opinions with body language.
Sounds of a dobro and bleating goats introduce the next play, “Fairy Tail,” written and acted by Tanya Gaines, and directed by Michael Halton. A dreamy homesteader tells us in rhyme about the trials and pleasures of living on the land, tending goats, making cheese, and more cheese, “and more, and more, and more....”
Gaines’s character is torn between her longing to throw off the trappings of so-called civilization and become an animal herself, united with nature, and with the simple joys of human life like coffee, hot baths, and love for her family.
The theme of animal nature v. human nature continues in the next play, “Night of the Living Mites,” written and directed by Owl Ceraulo. A charming and affectionate family of mites - Carl Hanson as Dad, Agnes Patak as Mom, Gardiner Boyce as the son of the family, Sophie Dowd as the daughter, and Moss Nipkau as crazy Uncle Charlie - just want to eat leaves and enjoy life together, but a human couple, Rogers and Bruce Willis, are determined to eradicate them to protect their crop.
When family solidarity overcomes even predatory mites, also played by Rogers and Willis, the humans resort to desperate measures. In spite of the devastation wreaked by “Dr. Doom,” nature bats last, the audience learns as the curtain falls on the first act.
Following intermission, the second act begins with “Amuse Bouche,” written by Josh Golden and directed by Susan Alexander with assistance from Josh Golden. The scene is a restaurant so trendy that the menu consists only of ingredients from which Chef Ray Oakes assembles meals according to inspiration.
He and his wife, the server, played by Harolyn Salter, have just finished bickering when their customer David Gurley enters, hungry and lonely, hoping not only for another fine meal but the affections of the server.
With lots of humor and a dash of pathos, this play illustrates how success can dull passion, and suggests how to get it back.
The never-ending tragedy of war is the subject of “Promise,” written by Saxon Roe and directed by Marilyn Foote. Margaret Lewis plays a hippie woman, a dedicated Vietnam War protestor, whose lover (Jacob Shafer) makes a decision that is agonizing to them both. The play slips between past and present, choices and consequences, and we see the truth of the old saying, “Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.”
Cynthia Martells returns in “The Frosty of Our Eternal Love,” written by Kathleen Camp and directed by Jack Flaws. Wearing an all-pink outfit topped off with a sparkling pink wig, she plays a woman who believes she met Elvis Presley the day before his death. She has preserved the strawberry Frosty cone he gave her as the symbol of their unspoken love and has vowed to wear only pink until the King’s cryogenically frozen body is thawed out and they are reunited.
This part might well have been played for laughs, but Martells’s performance makes it a truly heartrending portrayal of delusion and a wasted life.
The evening (or afternoon) concludes with Random People’s traditional foray into surrealistic comedy or comedic surrealism in “Help,” written by Shirley Gaines and directed by Moss Nipkau.
A spiritual seeker (Susan Maples) approaches the yurt rumored to be occupied by a shaman, only to discover a grouchy Irishman, Seamus the Shaman, played by Christopher Lee, whose methods are unusual, to say the least, but strangely effective.
Producer Foote also double as set crew manager, and Rogers operates the slideshow. Alexander is the stage manager. The lighting crew includes Joe Hiney, lighting designer and Eric Kay as lighting engineer.
Sound designers are YES Sound and Jeanne York; Christy Watson is the sound engineer. Sara Stark created the mites’ costume; Patricia MacDonald designed the poster. Rogers created the program, and Agnes Patak is the show’s official photographer.
Foote and Rogers are already planning next year’s program, which will be entitled “Airport,” although the pieces do not need to be “airport-based.”
The producers encourage everyone with ideas for next year’s show to write them down. Toward the end of the year, they will start the new production with writing workshops, continuing with acting workshops, auditions, and on to a complete show ready to present to the local audience.
For more information, call Foote at 943-9786 or Rogers at 223-4780.
PHOTO COURTESY OF RANDOM PEOPLE MONOLOGUE/DIALOGUE PROJECT
Margaret Lewis and Jacob Shafer, as anti-war protestors, struggle with the conflict between ideals and duty in Saxon Roe’s one-act play, “Promise,” directed by Marilyn Foote, one of nine short plays on the program of the Random People Monologue/Dialogue Project’s current show, “Tell Me More,” playing this weekend at the Mateel Community Center.