This rarely happens, but I am not familiar with the Weekend Theater’s next play, Summertree.
And really, that’s fine. Every theater company ought to strive to throw in something that’s rarely, if ever, performed in the area. The Weekend Theater certainly hits that mark this time. Here’s the release.
How many times in your life has the action of a minute – or even a second – changed everything? Or did you really even notice when it happened?
In Ron Cowan’s Summertree, the memories of ordinary life take on extraordinary importance for a young man at a critical moment.
The play opens with a performance at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 9, at the Weekend Theater, Seventh and Chester streets in downtown Little Rock. Performances continue at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through April 24.
Tickets are $14, $10 for students and seniors age 65 and older. For more information or reservations, call the theater at (501) 374-3761 or order tickets online at www.weekendtheater.org.
A young man (Will Moon) – the characters are not given names – serving as a soldier in Vietnam is mortally wounded, and as he breathes his last, random fragments of his life flash through his mind.
As cast member Sarah Johnson notes, “When we remember things, they’re not linear, they’re fragmentary.”
Those memories include visions of himself as a little boy (Jackson Tucker), times with his mother (Elizabeth Reha) and father (Byron Taylor), and falling in love with his girlfriend (Sarah Johnson). Another soldier (Chuck Sanders) intrudes into this memory-making at times, a reminder of the “present” in which the story is actually unfolding.
“It’s a sweet, poignant show, with all sorts of moments that are tenderhearted,” says director Ralph Hyman.
Adds assistant director Jamie Blakey, “It gets to your heart. The message is, everything matters. Everything is important – every thought, every action. We forget that and we get caught up in the everyday realities of what we’re doing.”
First produced in New York City in 1968 by the Repertory Theater of Lincoln Center, “Summertree” was the winner of Off-Broadway’s Vernon Rice Award and the Drama Desk Award for best off-Broadway play that year. It was also a Pulitzer Prize nominee.
Though the time frame is the era of the Vietnam War, the personal issues in the play are universal and timeless. There’s a beauty and elegance to the writing that elevate the play to the level of poetry, distilling this bittersweet part of the human experience to its essence.