Oil Lamp Theater lights up in Glenview
Oil Lamp Theater Executive and Artistic Director Keith Gerth | Joe Cyganowski~For Sun-Times Media
‘Summertime, Livin’ Easy: A Festival of One-Act Plays’
Oil Lamp Theater, 1723 Glenview Road, Glenview
8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, Aug. 10-Sept. 1
$25, includes cookies and soft drinks
(847) 834-0738, www.oillamptheater.org
Updated: August 10, 2012 10:04AM
George Spelvin seems a bit lost and confused, dressed in Shakespearean attire and being pulled in two different directions by two attractive women, Amanda and Sybil, who look like they belong at a 20th-century cocktail party.
It’s a scene from Christopher Durang’s “The Actor’s Nightmare,” about an accountant who wakes one day to find he’s been cast in the most confusing play, “Endgame,” that is part William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” part Noel Coward’s “Private Lives” and part Robert Bolt’s “A Man for All Seasons.” Since this is completely foreign to him, George doesn’t know any of his lines.
Durang’s play actually reflects a common experience among actors — dreaming they’ve forgotten their lines while on stage.
But, actors Joe Page, Elizabeth Rude and Elizabeth Mazur were providing the right amount of tension and humor with only minor hiccups during a rehearsal for “The Actor’s Nightmare,” one of six one-act plays in a show called “Summertime, Livin’ Easy” to be staged at Oil Lamp Theater, the North Shore’s newest playhouse in Glenview, between Aug. 10 and Sept. 1. The show is directed by Barb Anderson and Ed Kuffert.
Three of the one-acts Oil Lamp has done before at its old place in the city (“Mrs. Sorken,” by Christopher Durang, “The Man Who Couldn’t Dance,” by Jason Katims and “The Ferris Wheel,” by Mary Miller) and three they’re doing for the first time (“Words, Words, Words,” by David Ives, “The Actor’s Nightmare,” by Durang and “Sure Thing,” by Ives).
Oil Lamp has been staging plays since 2005, but they were performed in a condominium in Chicago before the company’s founder, Executive and Artistic Director Keith Gerth of Northbrook, secured space in Glenview last spring.
Including “The Actor’s Nightmare” in Oil Lamp’s inaugural suburban run makes sense since this is new territory for the company. There’s some added pressure to not only pull off opening night and the show’s run, but the rest of the season with some new acting faces in the mix and to become viable.
Both directors Anderson and Kuffert said presenting six one-act plays is challenging for both them and the actors, but it keeps everyone working at the top of their game.
“We’re all having lots of fun creating the characters and preparing to tell the different stories,” Anderson said.
That’s especially true in “The Actor’s Nightmare,” where all six actors play multiple characters and go through several costume changes.
“We have all had — actors and non-actors alike — nightmares where we have found ourselves in confusing, unfamiliar situations,” Anderson said. “So we feel the audience will be able to identify with the main character, who is constantly trying to resolve his dream but is unable to wake up.”
Rude, of Northbrook, is one of those actors new to Oil Lamp. She’s in four of the plays, three with speaking parts. She was looking forward to acting with a group she knew and admired at a location just 10 minutes from her home, so therefore she was nervous. The actor’s nightmare struck after auditions.
“I had an actor’s nightmare prior to call-backs,” she said. Since, she’s dreamed she couldn’t find long, white gloves she needed to wear in a play and vacillated about going on stage without them.
“I’m just hoping not to have a nightmare on stage while performing,” she laughed.
However, Gerth has confidence in his actors and directors. Plus, he’s following a somewhat familiar formula.
When he started Oil Lamp in 2005, the group staged six one-act plays for its opening run. He felt the first run at the new location should open in a similar manner.
“It’s a little bit of a look-back while we’re looking forward to the future,” he said, adding performances of “Silvia” and “It’s a Wonderful Life” are to follow. “We thought that was a nice way to recognize where we’ve been. And, all six of them are really core to who we are as an organization, they’re a good representation of what Oil Lamp Theater is all about.”