SGT Kicks Off Fourth Season
The following article by Donna Hoke was published in Buffalo Spree in January, 2016→
Second Generation Theatre kicks off its fourth season (already?!) with Christopher Durang’s Tony award-winning Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, but don’t look for them at the New Phoenix Theatre. The company has gone at least temporarily suburban, and will be presenting from Lancaster Opera House.
“New Phoenix was never meant to be our permanent home,” explains SGT executive director Kristin Bentley. “The opportunity at LOH presented itself and we looked at it as a great challenge and opportunity to be exposed to a completely different crowd of theatergoers; LOH has a huge built-in audience. We are still a very young company and just recently 501(c)(3). We believe this move will allow us to continue to set the bar high within our current means. We will be at LOH for two years most likely; our goal is still to find our own space more central to downtown.”
Doug Weyand is excited to be directing the inaugural LOH production, a show he describes as “an absurdist, satirical comedy that sends up the plays of Anton Chekhov through the story of a dysfunctional family. It’s important to note that it’s not a parody, it’s a satire. There’s a difference. The humor in this play, specifically, is right up my alley; when I first started doing theater thirty years ago, I was always cast in comic roles. I understand the necessary rhythms of a piece; it’s a style I admire. I’m also the kind of director who knows when to get out of the way and let the actors be creative.”
If hearing “Chekhov” is intimidating, don’t worry. Weyand assures that theatergoers needn’t be the least bit familiar with Chekhov to enjoy this play. For those who do know Chekhov, they’ll get “a few more jokes, but ultimately, the story stands on its own without the Chekhov references,” he says. “What the show does well is effectively skewer both the family dynamic and our present day disconnection with one another. People don’t listen well anymore. Our attention spans are much shorter and we’re seemingly addicted to focusing on our phones, computers, and TVs. Younger generations, represented in the play by Spike and Nina, are almost devoid of the ability to hold a lengthy in-person conversation or to make eye contact. This play hilariously puts those issues front and center.”
Second Generation Theatre presents Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike at Lancaster Opera House through February 6 (secondgenerationtheatre.com, 508-SGT0).