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The Play-Goer: Generations Ends a Generation

Local playwrights get together for last hoorah

photo by Dona Weingarten/ Erica Miller and Jim Reiter in Late Nights in Cars.
     Colonial Players’ latest performance, Generations, lives up to its namesake. The play marks the end of a generation.
       Generations: An Evening of One Acts, is one huge send-off. Written by a trio of Annapolis playwrights who dubbed themselves The Annapolis Theater Project in the early 1990s, the play is a finale to a lifelong dedication to original community theater. Stephen Evans, Michael Gilles and Morey Norkin have worked in the Annapolis-theater area since 1980, as both actors and playwrights.
     The trio will never work together again, Norkin said. He is moving to Japan, a plan that inspired this last project.
      “We wanted to do one last project together,” Norkin said. “We’ve been friends and doing theater together since high school. We thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be something if we get this produced?’”
    Generations, as you would guess, explores generations. It digs into generational gaps and familial relationships. It finds the nooks and crannies of love as it transcends generations between couples. It considers the similarities and differences that grow between those living and working in different decades.
     Through three one-act plays, the audience will nose-dive into these particulars and come out “very entertained,” said Darice Clewell, a longtime board member of Colonial Players.
     “It’s quite charming,” said Clewell. “The audience will see things that are thought-provoking, and they will see things that are very funny.”
     Generations is a revival and finale rolled into one. The Annapolis Theater Project has not produced a play since a gig at Anne Arundel Community College in the 1990s. Then, as now, each playwright wrote one play to be synchronized as a whole.
      This year, each accepted ground rules.  Each play includes two characters from different generations, a male and a female, no one else.
     Late Nights in Cars, written by Gilles, examines a father-daughter relationship through the child’s life. They bond best when driving around town late at night, a tradition that keeps their spark alive through 30 years.
     Jim Reiter, who plays the father, said Gilles had written the one-act with him in mind for the role. With a strong writer-actor relationship, a local team can really “bring life to a stage,” Reiter said.
     “Gilles really knows his stuff,” Reiter added.
    Monuments by Evans is a fictional biography of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Emerson is growing older, and as he takes care of his daughter on a boat ride through the Nile, he remembers his two wives from different generations.
     Finally, Last Laugh, written by Norkin, listens in on two comedians — a modern, hopeful comic and an older, out-of-style one — in a dressing room. They get wrapped up in a conversation about comedic differences over the decades.
      Norkin said he was inspired by his nightly routines, watching old-style comedians such as Henny Youngman as well as new comics. It was meant to be a full-blown comedy at first, but as he wrote the “characters and dialogue went off in a different direction” and became much more emotional.
      "Last Laugh is funny, it’s touching,” said Robin Schwartz, who plays the younger female comedian. “And we poured our hearts into this. A lot of blood, sweat and tears.”
     Generations has been long in the making. The idea was conceived and the plays finished in 2017. After a house reading in front of guests, Clewell said Colonial Players — which typically has a summer series of original, local plays — would produce Generations.
     “I thought it was so wonderful,” she said. “And they’ve been involved with Colonial Players for 30 years. It seemed like the perfect place for this to be done.”
      The one-acts bound through relationships, leap through generational gaps and gracefully land on emotional, character-driven plots. Commentary is ripe and original.
     Colonial Players, said Reiter, “is the only theater around that takes a chance at doing something different. It’s special.”
 
Playing FSa 8pm, Su 2pm, thru Aug. 3, Colonial Players, Annapolis, donations suggested: www.thecolonialplayers.org.