Odenbear to stage ‘The Bench Plays’

Local thespians to stage third season of challenging theater pieces at Metta

By Tempo staff
Posted 6/15/18

There’s only one prop, a bench. From that, a collection of local actors and playwrights hope to create some theatrical magic.

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Odenbear to stage ‘The Bench Plays’

Local thespians to stage third season of challenging theater pieces at Metta

Posted

There’s only one prop, a bench. From that, a collection of local actors and playwrights hope to create some theatrical magic.

Odenbear Theatre will present its third season of “The Bench Plays,” nine original 10-to-15 minute plays, set to open this week at Metta Theatre, 1470 Paseo del Pueblo Norte in El Prado. 

“This year we received over 80 submissions from all over the U.S. from significant playwrights,” Odenbear director Jim Hatch said in a prepared statement. After the selection committee process, nine plays were chosen for this production at Metta Theatre.

Plays by two local playwrights were selected. Karen Thibodeau’s “On A Clear Day” is described as a comic but poignant portrayal of spreading a deceased family member’s ashes. And, Irene Loy’s “LemonWorld,” is described as a family drama dealing with loss.

Thibodeau is well-known as director of Taos Children’s Theatre as well as an actor and playwright. Loy is an outreach coordinator for the Taos-based DreamTree Project, a safe haven for homeless teens and young adults in Northern New Mexico. She is also a talented actor and writer who recently earned a master’s degree in dramatic writing from the University of New Mexico-Taos.

The other seven selected were Tim J. Brennan’s “Show me a Hero,” Barabara Lindsay’s “Claudio’s Brother,” Conrad A. Panganiban’s “River’s Message,” Jefferey Fischer’s “Dog Dreams,” Tom Coash’s “Kamasutra,” Robin Pond’s “Just a Kiss,” and Robert O’Connell’s “Bob Gets Cast Out of Hell.”

“Bob Gets Cast Out of Hell,” a comedy, focuses on Satan (Steve Mondragon) and God (Linda Stokas) meeting to decide what to do with Earthling Bob. Director Pam Parker said, “It’s such a pleasure to work with these actors.”

“Kamasutra” highlights a middle-aged couple trying to revive their relationship by visiting the Kamasutra Temple in India. Hatch lends his talents by playing the mobile home salesman being dragged around India by his ever tolerant wife.

Its author, Tom Coash, is a New Haven, Connecticut playwright and director who has won numerous playwriting awards, including the Osborn Award from the National Theatre Critics Association. His plays have been produced worldwide. Coash currently teaches playwriting.

Barbara Lindsay’s “Claudio’s Brother” centers on a brother protecting his sister, set in the American South. Lindsay’s first full-length play won the New York Drama League’s 1989 Playwriting Award and was given its premiere production in London in 1991. Since then, her plays have been produced more than 400 times in 33 states, 13 countries and on every continent except Antarctica.

“Although these plays are short, they are wonderful vehicles for actors,” Thibodeau said. “Writing a well-written short play takes a real effort, a special skill to structure and then it’s a unique challenge to perform.”

Taos actors appearing in “The Bench Plays” include Julianne Moyer, Ruth Farbach, Steve Rose, Martha Grossman, Jane Ayles, Patrick McMurray, Mary Walker, Josh Still, Thibodeau, William Hall, Diane Davis and more.

Over the last three years, “The Bench Plays” have involved more than 50 actors, directors and technicians working to produce 27 different plays.

“The Bench Plays” was originated by Jim Hatch of Odenbear Theatre. The event proved to be an excellent vehicle for celebrating and encouraging playwrights. Audiences have enjoyed the wide array of talent exhibited by both the playwright and the actors.

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