Anatomy of a Premiere — Part Three: Whyowa?

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February 8, 2013 by T. Gregory Argall

If you’ve read my last two posts, I know what you’re thinking. “Why premiere your play in Iowa? Iowa is flat and boring.”

Actually, no. No, it’s not.

Iowa Poster

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I’ll give you a moment to rephrase the question that I’m making you ask… “Iowa is nowhere near where you live. Why have the premiere so far from home?”

The short answer is, “Well, they asked first.” But the real answer is much more complex and detailed than that.

First of all, the venue is fantastic. Look at this place. It’s a beautiful theatre.

OHP 2

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OHP 3

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OHP 4

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You can practically feel the history emanating from the walls. It’s incredible.

Secondly, they do good work. As I mentioned in a previous post, the Opera House Players don’t make any half-efforts. If they do something, they do it as well as humanly possible, with a creative flair that, as the kids say, kicks it up a notch. (Do the kids still say that?)

Here’s an example. This is the set they had last year for “Self-Help For Dummies.”

OHP 5

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The portrait on the wall is actually a television screen. The facial expressions changed scene by scene as the story progressed. A subtle touch with some brilliant effort behind it. And look at the seams between the wall panels. Smooth and even.

Another example, in the form of an anecdote… Last fall, one of the people I met there was doing usher duty on a show and she was approached by a couple who said, “You’re the reason we’re here.” Fortunately, they went on to explain what they were talking about, because that’s a hell of a thing to hear from strangers. They live somewhere on the eastern seaboard (I don’t recall where, but don’t worry, they knew where they live) and they were visiting friends in Elkader. On their previous visit they had seen “Self-Help For Dummies” and enjoyed the production so much that they decided to plan their visits based on the production schedule at the Opera House.

Apparently I’m not the only person who’ll travel over 750 miles to see a play. Suddenly I don’t feel so special. Or weird.

Thirdly (we’re on thirdly now, aren’t we?), the enthusiasm they have for this show is phenomenal. About three seconds after confirming production rights for “The Accidental Hit-Man Blues,” they commissioned this poster graphic from local artist Cary Kann (who also happens to be an actor and set designer).

The Accidental  Hit-Man Blues graphic (color)

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As I mentioned last week, there was a huge turn out for auditions, and people who didn’t get parts on-stage are eager to work backstage. Check out this list. Click on the names to see past shows each person has done at that theatre. There’s a few hundred years of experience on that list. This is a premiere and they want to do it right, and I am confident that they’ll produce the greatest show possible out of my little script.

And that’s why my new play is premiering in Iowa. Because it’s the right place.

tga

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