January 2020

On Stage


Stage Talk by Carol Viescas

Menu of this month's listings, stories and columns

‘We Have Each Other’ — El Paso Community Foundation’s Jewel Box Series presents the trio of one-acts by Felix Arenas at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 12, at the Philanthropy Theatre (next to the Plaza Theatre). The stories explore the importance of families and the struggles each one comes with. Tickets: $16 (Ticketmaster). Information: 533-4020 or epcf.org.
   The Feb. 9 Jewel Box performance is “The Straussiana” with Ballet in Session Academy.

‘Arsenic and Old Lace’ — Las Cruces Community Theatre, 313 N. Main in the Las Cruces Downtown Mall presents the classic Joseph Kesselring play Jan. 31-Feb. 16. Performances are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sundays. Cake and non-alcoholic beverages with the cast and crew follow opening night performance. Tickets: $17 ($14 senior, students and military; $10 groups and children). Information: (575) 523-1200 or lcctnm.org.
  The nephew of two spinster aunts is in love with a reverend’s daughter. The nephew’s family, descended from the Mayflower settlers, is composed of insane individuals, from homicidal aunts to a cousin who thinks he’s Teddy Roosevelt.

‘The Killing Game’ — No Strings Theater Company presents the play by Eugene Ionesco, directed by Marissa Bond, Jan. 24-Feb. 9, at Black Box Theater, 430 N. Main in Las Cruces. Showtime is 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2:30 p.m. Sundays, and 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 6. Tickets: $15 ($12 students and seniors over 65; $10 all seats Thursday). Information: (575) 523-1223 or no-strings.org.
  Set in a small town during an outbreak of plague, citizens fall one after another, and the town is transformed from a gossipy, boring burg (where the townspeople all speak in clichés) into a maelstrom of paranoia and horror, as hundreds of citizens literally drop dead.

Playhouse auditions — El Paso Playhouse, 2501 Montana, hosts auditions for “The Secret Garden” Monday and Tuesday, Jan. 27-28. Performance dates are March 27-April 12. Call for audition times: 532-1317 or elpasoplayhouse.com.

‘Saturday Night Fever’ — UTEP Dinner Theatre, in the UTEP Student Union West building, presents the Broadway and West End smash hit based on Nik Cohn’s 1975 New York Magazine article “Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night” and Norman Wexler’s 1977 film Jan 31-Feb. 16, featuring music by the Bee Gees. Show time is 7 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday; non-dinner matinees are Sunday 2:30 p.m. Feb. 9 and 16; dinner matinee is 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 2. Tickets: $33.50 to $43.50 Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday discount dinner performances; $36.50 to $48.50 (Friday and Saturday dinner performances), and $19.50 to $29.50 no-dinner matinee performances (Ticketmaster). Information: 747-6060 or utep.edu/udt.
  A talented, streetwise kid from Brooklyn attempts to escape his dead-end life through dancing. Saturday Night Fever includes an “all hit” disco-era score featuring favorites by the Bee Gees such as “Stayin’ Alive,” “Night Fever” and “More Than a Woman,” along with many other disco era classics featured in the original film. Adult subject matter and language.

‘As You Like It’ — El Paso Playhouse, 2501 Montana presents one of Shakespeare’s best-loved comedies Feb. 7-23. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $15 ($12 seniors, students, military and teachers; $9 children). Information: 532-1317 or elpasoplayhouse.com.
  Love blooms in the Forest of Arden, as the banished Rosalind and her faithful cousin Celia encounter a group of other exiles. Gender roles, nature, and politics are confused in this play that reflects on how bewildering yet utterly pleasurable life and love can be.

El Paso Comic Strip — 1201 Airway. Shows are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Closed Jan. 12 and Feb. 2. Tickets: $6 Thursday, $12 Friday and Saturday; $8 Sunday, except as listed. Age 17 and older admitted. VIP Booths $10 more per ticket for all shows; available at ticketweb.com.
  Information, reservations: 779-LAFF (5233), elpasocomicstrip.com or on Facebook at El Paso Comic Strip.
Jan. 2-5: Joey Media
Jan. 16-19: John Stringer
Jan. 30-Feb. 1: K-von.
  Special events:
  New Year’s Eve performances are 7 and 10 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 31, featuring Joey Medina. Tickets for early show are $12.50, and late show is $22.50 ($10 more for VIP booths).
  Comic Steve Treviño, whose latest Netflix special is “Til Death,” performs 7:30 p.m. Thursday, and 7:30 and 10 p.m. Friday, and 7 and 9 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 9-11. Tickets: $25; $30 VIP.

STAGE TALK by Carol Viescas

‘Absurd’ play opens 2020 for No Strings

Every show mounted by a community theater has its hurdles to overcome to get on stage, but appropriately, Eugene Ionesco’s satire, “The Killing Game,” at No Strings Theatre in Las Cruces had a rather ironic problem.
“In a play about the plague, most of the cast got sick in the first week, delaying the start of our rehearsals,” director Marissa Bond said. “Hopefully, we have it all out of our system now, both literally and figuratively.”
Bond explained the plot, which centers on, well, illness.
“An unnamed city in an unnamed country is beset by an unnamed plague. Quarantined from the rest of the world and hemmed in by unknowns, how does the population of the city deal with the horror? Not well. Ionesco’s absurdist play uses gleefully dark humor and an unrelenting examination of human nature combined to keep us unbalanced and uncertain, but laughing through it all.”
The play doesn’t have any main characters, said Bond, who starred as General Custer in Neal Adelman’s “I, Custer,” directed by Mark Medoff (the theater giant who died in April).
“It is one of the many ways that Ionesco challenges our expectations in this work. Each scene contains new people (with one very short exception), and it is the work of the actors to create new characterizations and to find ways to invest the audience in embracing the ephemeral.”
As such, she said, she has been blessed with a cast of largely veteran actors and a couple of fresh faces to the theater: Teddy Aspen-Sanchez, Karen Buerdsell, Vanessa Dabovich, Gina DeMondo, Avra Elliot, Cassandra Galban, Erica Krauel, Taylor Landfair, Ed Montes, Joseluis Solorzano, Nancy Sorrells, Josh Taulbee, and Robert Young.
“The main concern about having a larger cast is accommodating everyone’s unique schedules, especially around the holidays. All of the actors and crew are volunteers, so we want to be respectful of how generous they are in giving their time and talents to this performance. However, when we are all together, the energy of the large cast is infectious, and builds into something really beautiful on stage.”
Bond also is thrilled with her tech crew.
“Peter Herman, owner and technical director of the Black Box Theater, will be designing lights. Bekah Taulbee will be running the lights and sound and generally making sure it all goes smoothly, as she has for at least 50 shows. Josh Taulbee, who has recently designed sets for shows such as ‘The Mrs. Wheatland Pageant,’ ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ and ‘How to Survive Your Family at Christmas,’ will be putting his prodigious talents toward designing the set. Robert Young, also known as Bobcat, who has designed costumes for innumerable plays and performers in the Las Cruces and El Paso area, will be designing and creating the costumes, as well as acting as assistant director. Erica Krauel, another long-time theater veteran, will be designing and creating the props.” 
Bond, who has done many shows at LCCT and the Black Box, said she has always loved Theatre of the Absurd.
“It wasn’t originally my plan to do Ionesco. I had been looking for a fun murder mystery when I came across The Killing Game - which is absolutely not a murder mystery - and was thrilled by the opportunities it brought to challenge collaborators on every level of the production - the designers, the crew, the actors, the director, and, of course, the audience.”
Bond says she wants the audience to walk away with an awareness of their role as collaborators in the act of theater and in the creation of meaning.
“Absurdism is not nihilism. Though the play interrogates the way we struggle against the inevitability of death, Ionesco tempers the brittle edge of satire with moments of softness and vulnerability which validate the reasons why we struggle. I hope the audience leaves with thoughts and questions, to be sure, but also joy and delight in the experience.”

Carol Viescas is a veteran of
community theater and teaches
journalism at Bel Air High School.

No Strings Theater Company presents “The Killing Game” Jan. 24-Feb. 9 at Black Box Theater, 430 N. Main in Las Cruces. Information: (575) 523-1223 or no-strings.org.


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Program Notes
On Stage
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Stage Talk
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