Monday, October 17, 2011

Guest Artist by Jeff Daniels, Paradox Players, October 14 - 30

Guest Artist Jeff Daniels Paradox Players

Steubenville, Ohio -- with all respect due to the inhabitants of that town of 19,000, it sounds about as far away from theatre civilization as one could get. It's in those rough hills of east Ohio, forty miles west of Pittsburgh and facing east into West Virginia. Playwright Daniels uses the Steubenville bus station as the run-down unlikely setting for the encounter of a famous playwright on his way down and an awestruck aspiring writer dreaming of a future not centered in the wing-nut and fastener factory that's the family business.

Steubenville's the birthplace of Dean Martin, a point of local pride commemorated by a poster next to the doors to the toilets. Further background, not communicated: it was also the birthplace of porn and B-film actress Traci Lords and of playwright Jeffrey Hatcher (Hatcher's Wikipedia entry calls it "a gritty Ohio River town better known for its mob connections, houses of ill repute and industrial detritus than for its literary sons and daughters"). Steubenville's downtown Grand Theater movie alace has been closed since 1979 and only just escaped demolition in 2010 due to the efforts of a community group.

Tyler Jones as the earnest young writer Kenneth Waters assures visiting playwright Joseph Harris that the Steubenville community theatre group is really quite good; their director won a 'Steubie' last season. "A what?" snaps Joe Penrod as the visitor, who has been sleeping on a bus station bench because Waters had dozed off while waiting for the arrival of his 1:30 a.m. bus.

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