|English professors host live reading of play on celebrity DUI arrest|
|Written by Renee Changnon, Daily Vidette Senior Staff|
|Wednesday, 09 November 2011 23:44|
On Wednesday evening, community members, ISU students and staff joined to watch the staged reading of “Fat Jack’s,” presented by the New Route Theatre and held in the Eaton Gallery in Bloomington.
According to Don Shandrow, artistic director of the New Route Theatre, the mission of the group is to promote diversity and inclusion that reflects the community through the wide talent pool presented on stage.
“We’re a theatre of diversity and inclusion, and we wanted a theater company that reflects the community and all of its aspects. The theatre grew out of my concern for what the audience at theaters would look like,” Shandrow said.
According to Irene Taylor, director of “Fat Jack’s” and media resource secretary for the English department, Shandrow had been seeking to stick to the mission statement and search for unique work.
“New Route Theater has been around for a while. Don Shandrow, the artistic director, really in the last year decided to build upon it and really wanted to open it up to the mission statement of diversity, and included in that is a commitment to original work,” Taylor said.
After grabbing lunch with Kass Fleisher, associate professor of English and one of the writers of "Fat Jack’s," along with her husband Joe Amato, instructional assistant professor of English, Taylor asked if she could take their work to Shandrow, and shortly afterwards, “Fat Jack's” was in the works.
“We were thinking about doing a full production, but in terms of logistics of the space, we really couldn’t give it the space that would allow for a fully staged production, so I asked them if it would be alright if we did a reading,” Taylor said.
According to Amato, one morning Fleisher woke up with an idea to write about actor and playwright Sam Shepard who had been arrested in Normal for speeding and driving under the influence of alcohol in January 2009.
“[Fleisher] wrote the whole first draft, I had nothing to do with it. I only came on afterwards. That was a couple years ago, like two summers ago. She really drafted the whole thing, and I edited the whole thing,” Amato said.
According to Taylor, although they were doing a reading of the play, after the first rehearsal she knew she wanted to bring the actors out of their seats.
“Originally, we were going to do [‘Fat Jack’s’] as a strict table reading, so the first rehearsal, it didn’t work for me … I just knew I couldn’t give it the justice it deserved as a strict table reading, so I decided to move it into a staged reading, and it seemed to work a lot better,” Taylor said.
“Fat Jack’s” featured 12 actors who all came from different backgrounds and walks of life and were able to bring the characters depicted by Fleisher and Amato to life.
“It’s not easy to get 12 or 11 actors together all at the same time, but these actors were committed and they’re very good and I was very proud of what they were able to do,” Taylor said.
Each character was named after their drink of choice, while the story weaved around the events of the Sam Shepard arrest, and the drama that unfolds only adds to the viewer’s idea of what the backstory of the night may have been.
According to both Fleisher and Amato, “Fat Jack’s” is still in the early stages, and they will continue to make adjustments to the play, which New Route Theatre has committed to show next year as a full-blown production.
“We really have made a commitment to a whole run production of [Fat Jack’s] in a different location,” Shandrow said.