Thursday, July 10, 2014

‘Tyr’ pressure rises under the lights, behind the curtain

Zinszer and Powiliatis (Photo by Me)
PANAMA CITY — It’s been a while since I stood on the stage at the Martin Theatre. On Wednesday evening, as I watched women painting backdrops and arranging lights, their voices mingling among the curtains, I tried to recall which show was in preparation back then.

And really, it didn’t matter which one. There’s an energy in those lights and among the flowing curtains that permeates all activity. A sense of pressure rising. Even Mike Stone, slouching on a stool and studying lines, seemed ready to break into action at any moment.

Mike’s wife, Pam Sutton, is directing “Pericles, Prince of Tyr,” a lesser-known play from William Shakespeare, which will be presented for one weekend (July 17-20) at the Martin. She has set the action in the 1930s and transplanted it from the Mediterranean to various cities in the U.S., including Miami and New Orleans. Segments of the play originally presented as narration will be projected in the form of scratchy news reels.

“We wanted it to be set far enough distant that it’s not now, but is something that the audience can relate to,” Pam said. “The play itself is supposed to be an antique fable.”

Pam invited me by to see the sets in progress and meet some of the actors, like Allen Walker, who is portraying Pericles. This isn’t the first starring role for Allen, 32, a Latin teacher at Arnold High School in Panama City Beach. In recent years, for instance, he’s become associated with the name “Soldier Riley,” playing the hero of local author Michael Lister’s novels in performances at Gulf Coast State College.

“He starts off very cocky, sure of himself,” Allen said of Pericles, “but he’s brought low several times. The scenes are very short, which limits the time to portray him before the next disaster happens.”

Allen joked that Pericles gets shipwrecked so often that you would think people would stop letting him on their boats.

Anthony Powiliatis, 20, a GCSC student, is the self-proclaimed “po-liatist” person you’ll ever meet. This is his 24th show, including productions at the Martin, Kaleidoscope Theatre, GCSC, Bay High, Jinks Middle, and the late Sherlock’s Mystery Dinner Theatre. He said the antics behind the curtain are his favorite thing about doing theatre.

“It’s a war backstage,” he said. “We pantomime killing each other, or all the drama stereotypes we do.”

One of his foils is Elizabeth Zinszer, 19, a technical theater major at GCSC, who plays Pericles’ daughter. We shared a laugh when we realized that, about eight years ago, she played the child of Macduff, Thane of Fife, in “The Tragedy of Macbeth” — when my son was playing Macduff under the direction of Stone and Sutton’s daughter, Liz. Even my son’s “daughter” is grown up now.

“I’ve never read one of Shakespeare’s plays that is like this, a mix of tragedy and comedy — it’s all over the place,” Elizabeth said. “It’s kind of like a puzzle, almost.”
Daniel LaMere, a 16-year-old virtuoso, has chosen era-appropriate music and will be playing it live throughout the show.

“This has taught me to do preparation really fast,” Daniel said, explaining he had three weeks to ready the score. “It’s testing my abilities to learn. I freaked out at first, but I learned I can do this.”

As you will live, resolve it you.

‘PERICLES, PRINCE OF TYR’
Where: The Martin Theatre, 409 Harrison Ave., Panama City
When: 7:30 p.m. July 17, 18 and 19; 2 p.m. July 20
Tickets: $10 adults, $5 students and senior adults
Details: 763-8080

---
(This is my Undercurrents column for PanamaCity.com and The News Herald this week.)

Post a Comment