One of America’s most revered playwrights and one of its most popular will receive attention from two Portland-area theater companies this week.
In South Portland, Mad Horse Theatre presents “A Six Pack of Miller” — staged readings of some of Arthur Miller’s most significant works. At St. Lawrence Arts Center on Munjoy Hill in Portland, Good Theater revives last season’s production of A.R. Gurney’s “Ancestral Voices” for a two-week run.
“We find that A.R. Gurney’s work is very popular with our audience,” said Brian Allen, artistic director of Good Theater. “His plays are funny, and there’s also some substance to them. There are great characters to dig into and portray.”
Good Theater staged “Ancestral Voices” for a one-week run last year, fitting it into a hole in the calendar. The audience loved it, and the company recruited the same cast to revive it, including Allen, Bob McCormack, Lee K. Paige, Jocelyn Lavin Pollard and Stephen Underwood.
Gurney, who is best known for writing “Love Letters” and “The Dining Room,” wrote “Ancestral Voices” in the early 2000s. The play is set in Gurney’s native Buffalo in the 1940s. It deals with family, memory and nostalgia, and how we deal with and process our memories.
“We usually don’t bring plays back this fast, but it seemed like it had more legs than just the one week we did the first time around,” Allen said.
Meanwhile, Mad Horse will present readings of several Miller classics for two nights each over two weeks. More than 60 artists will participate.
The readings began this week, and continue with “All My Sons” today and Friday; “Death of a Salesman” on Saturday and Sunday; “After the Fall,” directed by James Hoban, on Tuesday and Wednesday; “A View from the Bridge” on April 11-12; and “The Crucible” on April 13-14.
Marshall, Mad Horse’s artistic director, scheduled the staged readings as a way to resolve a scheduling snafu. She had planned to present a fully produced version of “All My Sons,” but several actors who had committed developed conflicts.
After reading about a series of Miller readings at L.A. Theatre Works, she decided to try the format at Mad Horse.
“What began as an obstacle became an opportunity,” she said.
Marshall remains committed to staging a fully-produced Miller play in an upcoming season.
Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or: