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The Play-Goer: Twin Beach Players’ New Directors’ Showcase

See these shows — and reach for new levels of understanding

Cameron Walker as CB in Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead
     I admire the local community theater company Twin Beach Players in North Beach, Maryland. 
     They’re always reaching, stretching for more. More ways for people of all ages to get involved. More originality. More variety. A little bit of everything. They’re always including young people and giving them opportunities outside of the standard two shows a year in average school programs. They offer adult comedies, family shows and kids opportunities to write and perform. They are always reaching out to the community with a way to get involved.
     The 2017 New Directors’ Showcase is yet another example of Twin Beach Players looking for ways to stretch in new directions. This show features two one-act plays, both dealing with challenging themes that have serious impact on today’s teenagers.
     The first is Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead by Bert V. Royal and directed by Lindsay Haas. The second is The Hope Chest, written and directed by Terri McKinstry, a seasoned veteran of the theater.
     Don’t be mistaken, however. This is not the youthful exploration of bullying the theater’s Kid’s Playwriting Festival examined this past summer. These are full-blown and frequently raw scrapings of the soul, addressing topics such as sexuality, violence, drugs and suicide. This is not a show for kids. It’s a show for adults (recommended 17 and older) who are courageous enough to witness the efforts teenagers embark on to hide from and survive the challenge, even torment, that those years can bring.
     While the two shows offer a different tone, the themes are similar.
     “Part of the magic of theater is having a safe place to play out all those huge emotions kids carry around inside,” McKinstry said. “Theater can be an escape and a place to begin to heal at the same time.” 
     The cast of McKinstry’s The Hope Chest is mostly older teenagers, the age of her characters. The young cast did not seem intimidated by the challenge of content.
     “These kids deal with intolerance, addiction and suicide issues in some form every day. It might be a friend, family member or acquaintance, but these are real issues in their lives,” McKinstry said.
     With simple sets, costumes and lighting, the focus is on the young actors’ portrayals. There are flashes of authenticity that are not to be missed, particularly near the end of both shows when the casts have finally immersed themselves in the emotion of the situations. 
     Reaching for more is not without risk, and not every risk plays out here. But I found it relatively easy to forgive the acting moments that were fumbled in light of the sheer courage it took to be a part of these productions, be it as actor, director, tech or producer. 
     I encourage you — and especially young adults — to take a chance on these shows and stretch the boundaries of what theater you might usually attend. Take friends. Plan to go out afterward to talk about what you experienced. Trust me; you’ll want to.
     In this way, Twin Beach Players are not only challenging themselves. They’re giving the community opportunity to reach for new levels of understanding along with them.
Friday and Saturday 8pm, Sunday 3pm thru October 22, North Beach Boys and Girls Club, 9021 Dayton Ave, $15 w/discounts: