This weekend, the Chautauqua Inter-arts Collaboration will cram the spilled blood, soaring melodies, brutal battles and undying hope of 500 years of history and American-inspired artistic expression into a neatly packaged show.
In her new play, Fifty Ways, now playing its debut engagement in Bratton Theater, Kate Fodor explores the potent but ambiguous states of emotion that lie in the balance between loving and not loving, between forgiving and not forgiving, between moral obligation and freedom from obligation.
These are speculative states of being:
“Would I still love you if …?”
“Could I forgive you if …?”
“Would I stay with you if …?”
We may think we know the answers to those questions, but we never really do. We can never know in which of the 50 ways we might leave our lovers until fate actually delivers us to the crossroads of decision.
Though the married couple in Fifty Ways faces a deteriorating union and a seemingly endless feud, the actors behind the pair, Vivienne Benesch and Michael Gaston, are much bigger fans of each other.
Benesch, Chautauqua Theater Company’s artistic director, and Gaston, a guest artist actor, have been close friends for 25 years.
“We are doing this play about these intimate relationships — and Viv and I have never dated — but we’ve lived through each other’s relationships. We’ve lived through each other’s careers’ ups and downs,” Gaston said. “There are a lot of things about this play, which is brand new, which reflects our 25-year friendship.”
Gaston and Benesch are but two of the three guest artist actors in Fifty Ways, which shows at 8 p.m. tonight in Bratton Theater and runs through July 29. The third, David Aaron Baker, has also known Benesch and Gaston for many years.
Fifty Ways, the new play by Kate Fodor showing in premiere with the Chautauqua Theater Company, might become music in time. Its promise is atonal. Right now, it plays too pleasantly.
Fifty Ways begins with great assurance, dropping several F-bombs by the end of Page 3 and keeping up that verbal damage for the duration.
As well, the protagonist quickly and convincingly vomits three times, his wife having just concluded a declamation with an odd synesthesia about the different barks her house emanates, which is her way of complaining about the things that don’t work around the place. Those things that don’t work bark at her.
Ethan McSweeny is a storyteller, but always of someone else’s story. And on average, he tells five different stories per year as a nationally acclaimed freelance director.
Be it William Shakespeare’s epic plays at the Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, D.C., or playwright Kate Fodor’s brand-new productions in Chautauqua’s own Bratton Theater, McSweeny gives life to the works of others.
“I am the interpreter. In the same way that a conductor is not a composer,” McSweeny said, in a momentary lull in the midst of rehearsals for the show he is currently directing.
Paul Simon taught the world that there are 50 ways to leave your lover. Just slip out the back, Jack. Make a new plan, Stan.
Playwright Kate Fodor re-examines what it really means to leave your lover in her play Fifty Ways, aptly named after the Simon hit. Fodor’s play explores the complexities that tie and unwind a married couple in Fifty Ways, which previews at 8 p.m. tonight at Bratton Theater and opens at 6 p.m. Saturday in Bratton Theater. Fifty Ways, the first play commissioned by Chautauqua Theater Company and the Chautauqua Writers’ Center, marks CTC’s first world premiere.
Suzi Starheim | Staff Writer It was in 2008 that Michael Gaston suddenly found himself on a stage at…