Thursday, October 31, 2013

Robert Faires Profiles Mark Pickell and Capital T Theatre's 'There Is A Happiness That Morning Is' by Mickle Maher, October 31, 2013

Excerpt from Robert Faires' feature:

Austin Chronicle

He Happy Is
For Mark Pickell, Capital T Theatre is a source of joy

By Robert Faires, October 31, 2013

Mark Pickell (photo: Bret Brookshire)
Mark Pickell (photo:  Bret Brookshire)
[ . . . . ] "This is going to sound weird," offers [Katherine] Catmull, [lead in Capital T Theatre's current production There Is A Happiness That Morning Is by Mickle Maher,] "but I think what characterizes Cap T shows is an odd but sort of luscious combination of 1) humor, often quite black humor; 2) sex!; and 3) a real interest in and thoughtfulness about big ideas – ideas about life, death, love, families, society, etc."

Pickell himself breaks it down even more simply: "One constant throughout all the plays that I produce is that they're smart, that they challenge the audience to use their brains a little bit. And they're entertaining. If you had to nail me down for the two things that I really enjoy, it's being smart and entertaining at the same time." That's led him most often to works that can't be labeled with either a frowning or a smiling mask, "plays that don't say, 'I'm just a comedy,' or 'I'm just a drama.' That in-between ground of dark comedies is one I really appreciate. And so far, I think our audiences have appreciated that mix."

Webster, who's helped Pickell's company create its artistic home at Hyde Park Theatre, will testify to that, as he's had to squeeze more and more patrons – including many of his regulars – into Cap T's shows. "Capital T has been a good fit at HPT for several reasons," he writes. "Number one is probably that Mark's taste in plays and my taste in plays are very similar. Similar but not identical. The shows he produces appeal to HPT audiences, and the number of our regular audience members who have become Capital T regulars has grown steadily over the past six years. Capital T and Mark have also been great for HPT. HPT audiences have come to expect smart scripts, excellent direction, and strong performances from Mark and Capital T. And HPT productions have gotten new audience members from Mark's regular patrons."

Pickell recognizes that his company's success likely wouldn't have come as quickly or steadily as it did without Webster's support and the symbiosis between Cap T and HPT. "I owe tons of gratitude and mentorship to Ken," he says. "Hyde Park, which is, in all actuality, this terrible little space, is amazing and great, and people love to see theatre there. They associate it with quality work and newer plays, newer playwrights, newer thoughts and ideas. Ken comes across as this gruff guy, but he's been a very loving mentor to my company and me."

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