It's another busy week of theater in and around Providence:
Today at the Gamm at 5:00, Susan Quinn, author of Furious Improvisation: How the WPA and a Cast of Thousands Made High Art out of Desperate Times, will be talking about the Federal Theatre Project, which, from 1935 to 1939, funded plays across the country to keep actors, directors, writers, and stage-crews busy. If the project galvanized visionary theatre--its propitious climate gave rise to literary giant Arthur Miller and just plain giant Orson Welles--it also provided a stage for Manichean melodrama: Congress, outraged by the leftist slant of the works funded by the FTP, voted to terminate funding in June 1939. (Apparently, 16th-century playwright Christopher Marlowe, whose plays were revived and funded by the FTP, was a Communist.) In short, the dinosaurs won this round, but the small mammals, forced to scrape by on the periphery, adapted and survived. Quinn's talk, which itself is bound to be fascinating, precedes a preview of Clifford Odets's Awake and Sing! The Gamm website says this evening's show is sold out, but it also encourages you to call the box offce (723-4266) to check for availability.
On Thursday of this week, Elemental Theatre brings Deca-Go-Go to Perishable Theatre. I'm not sure what to say about this, even--or especially--after looking at the show's website. If the play is as anarchically ridiculous as the promotional materials, it'll be a well-spent $15.
And next weekend, the Manton Avenue Project brings There's A Couple'A Ways This Could End: A Conflict Resolution Play to The Media Arts Center at Met Public. Written by seven kid playwrights, shaped for the stage by seven dramaturgues, and performed by nearly two dozen local actors, the show is collaborative at every level: it is the result of a partnership between MAP and The Institute for the Study and Practice of Non-Violence, and is, appropriately, about the escalation and defusing of violence. (For more information, check out the January issue of Providence Monthly; Molly Lederer's article is a great read because she sees the playwrighting experience through the wide-open eyes of one of the project participants.)
Also next week, Gamm and 2nd Story officially open their first plays of 2009. Gamm, as noted already, is putting on a Depression-era classic; 2nd Story is showing Ben Hecht's and Charles MacArthur's The Front Page. Visit their websites and purchase your tickets.