Eden Prairie Players has a collection of 8 one acts which this is their 14th annual one acts. I am privileged to direct one of the the pieces called Stuck. The other titles of the plays include: A Little Culture, Red Roses at a Funeral, How Nice of You to Ask, Put Asunder, Pumps, A Harmony of Both, and Hypothetically. All individually directed by eight different directors with a cast of about 23 people total, plus two stage managers and two technical directors. It has been a pleasure working with an amazing production cast and crew and I got a chance to talk with four of them about their process working with EP Players and their show.
Before going into the interviews here’s a little bit about EP Players from David Durkee who is the co-chair of the advisory committee. “EP Players has been around for about 25 years starting off with mostly just doing a musical. We are now doing a children’s show directed by Gina Light, one acts, and women’s one acts as well as the summer musical. We like to used to work with published work, however, a few years ago we started working with unpublished plays and have gotten good feedback from our community and gives new playwrights a chance to be published.
How do these one acts get chosen? Well, we have a database of 250 files that are read online with about 20 reviewers that read them and rate them based upon plot, characters, and thought of the play with a scale of 1-10. A call is then put out to actors to come to a table read for the 20 plays that were rated the highest in order to hear them out loud. The final selections are selected by the advisory committee. The committee tends to look for more comedy, but looks for a wide range of range of complexity, age, and gender.
What is your involvement with theatre in general and specifically EP players?
Thomas Branham: I mostly do musicals with my wife and children. I would like to do more plays especially when they get older. Most of where I have performed is with Morris Park, Chaska Valley, and Mounds View. This is my first show with EP Players.
Waldo Callo: I have done acting and performing in plays since 1998 mostly drama. This is my first show with EP Players.
Rachel Brewster: I haven’t acted since high school. I work in IT and lack creativity in my job, so want to rejoin to bring more life into my life.
David Durkee: I have been involved with community theatre since middle school. In 2009 I auditioned for On Golden Pond with Eden Prairie Players and have been involved ever since. I have been involved on the advisory committee and currently co-chair. I have done some fringe shows and full length productions, but mostly shows with EP Players. This is my 5th show directing, I enjoy both directing and acting.
Tell me about the show you are involved in.
Thomas: I am in Put Asunder which is about a bride that must face some ghosts from her past before walking down the aisle.
Waldo: I am also in Put Asunder about a woman who thinks she has fallen in love and three of her ex lovers appears to try to win over her love in a comedic way.
Rachel: I am in in Stuck about two strangers that meet in an airport and their exchanges changestheir lives.
David: I am director of A Harmony of Both which is about transcendentalism and customer service. It is about a pet supply phone call in which a woman wants to sue a company because her dog almost dies. It contains a plot twist about nature and being able to take in all the hustle and bustle of life.
What is the theme or message of your show or what do you want the audience to walk away with?
Thomas: Loves comes in all forms, but your heart will ultimately know when the right person appears
Waldo: Dot your ‘i’ and cross your ‘t’, finish your book.
Rachel: If you're feeling stuck in your life, try looking at it with a different perspective and possibilities open up for you.
David: To renew your your connection to nature
Describe your role and your character.
Thomas: I play two roles. The groom who is an insecure stage voice reassuring the bride. I also play Syd a last minute addition to the chaos with a twist.
Waldo: I play Angelo an Italian who feels he should be with Janet, the bride, and appears to win her love.
Rachel: I play Zoe, a small town girl whose world is small with little opportunities. She doesn’t take advantage of many of them offered to her, but her door swings wide when she meets Palmer and is set on a new path for her life.
What do you enjoy most about playing your role:
Thomas: I enjoy playing a voice over actor and relying strictly on my voice to get people to laugh.
Waldo: It is great coming back to perform once again and to develop a character and personality attributes that are from a different cultural background with an accent different than my own.
Rachel: Zoe is zany, weird, deep, and impressionable all at the same time. I enjoy playing both sides of her personality.
David: I enjoy taking well written work and working with actors to bring it to life and honing in the comedy.
How do you prepare for the show and do you have pre-show rituals?
Thomas: I don’t eat before the show. I like the edge of hunger. I also listen to music.
Waldo: I channel the character I created and embody myself with his character personality-wise with his thoughts, feelings, and allow the character to possess my body.
Rachel: I run lines with my scene partner.
What did you learn about yourself in this process?
Thomas: It is fun to be around people that are more talented than you are. I also learned it is fun to watched skilled actors and be part of something while not directly in it.
Waldo: I left with happiness and fulfillment. I am a more wholesome person.
Rachel: It is fun to be an actress. I wasn’t sure if I would like to act as an adult and it showed me I want to incorporate it in my life.
David: Collaboration is key. Try to get an idea from everyone in the room.
Why should people come to see the one acts?
Thomas: It is very funny with surprises, anger, tugs at the heart, and gives you belly laughs. It is an amazing collection of plays in a fun setting initiate in nature with a great production crew.
Waldo: It is a communal effort with people giving of their skills and effort..
Rachel: wide variety of emotions to express, deep dramas, high energy comedy, variety is exciting and entertaining
David: We have put on a really good show. There has been a core group people working on these shows for years and know what it takes to be successful. We also have a good number of returning audience members and love seeing new faces.
On a side note, EP Players has been a joy to direct with and highly recommend seeing their show!
Eden Prairie Players Collection of One Acts had a successful opening run this past weekend. Come check out the shows this weekend of Eden Prairie Players One Acts this weekend at the Riley Jacques Barn at 9100 Riley Lake Road. Sept 20-22 at 7:30pm and Sept 23rd at 2pm. For more information or to buy tickets go to edenprairieplayers.com. You can also get your tickets at the door! See you at the barn!