Monday, November 21, 2016

PURE Theatre changes holiday play offering in light of current gun violence

What we need now is a little more joy

Posted by Connelly Hardaway on Mon, Nov 21, 2016 at 9:33 AM

click to enlarge Sharon Graci and Rodney Lee Rogers have chosen a more joyful play for their holiday performance. - JONATHAN BONCEK
  • Jonathan Boncek
  • Sharon Graci and Rodney Lee Rogers have chosen a more joyful play for their holiday performance.
Last week PURE Theatre announced that they'd made a last minute production change: Instead of performing Waffle Haus Christmas (written by PURE co-founder Rodney Lee Rogers), the theater will put on Underneath the Lintel, a 2001 play by Glen Berger, starting Thurs. Dec. 8.

Why the change?

"We have a limited opportunity to open our mouths and say something," says Sharon Graci, PURE Theatre's co-founder and Artistic Director. "And sometimes what we're going to say isn't appropriate." She's talking about certain elements of Waffle Haus Christmas, ones that she and Rogers decided were no longer suitable, including the retelling of a robbery that includes the killing of citizens by gunfire.

"It's so absurd. And today, that's not funny," says Graci. Waffle Haus Christmas was written by Rogers in 2009. The play is about a diner waitress stuck working on Christmas Eve with her ex-husband line cook. The two are visited by ghosts of Waffle Haus past, present, and future. The show's description calls it an "irreverent holiday that lampoons our most precious holiday traditions."

"The number of mass shootings since 2009 until now ... it's just ghastly. It's unbelievable," Graci says. And that's why they couple decided to alter the final offering in PURE's 2016 season.

"It's just a plastic tommy gun," explains Graci of the shooting scene. "It's absurd, but that's your reality. That could happen to you."

So she and Rogers decided that 2016's holiday production should enliven audiences, rather than egg them on with (at times) inappropriate laughter. The answer? Underneath the Lintel, a one-man play about a librarian who finds an old book and goes on a journey back in time.

"It's so beautiful, so funny, so inspiring," says Graci, who will direct this performance of Underneath the Lintel, with Rogers playing the librarian. "We have to balance our joy — where's our joy?" she says. "Underneath the Lintel is such an obvious choice. It has so much heart."

And what of Waffle Haus Christmas? Graci and Rogers aren't sure right now. "Is there another life to Waffle Haus?" asks Graci. "Is there another play in there? Maybe something that's more reflective of these days — a product of what we've learned in the past 10 years."

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