Theater lights up ‘dark nights’ with various performances
Published: Thursday, February 7, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, February 7, 2013 at 8:30 a.m.
Sometimes, between shows, the Acrosstown Repertory Theatre goes quiet.
Dark Nights performances
Theatre Strike Force: UF improvisational troupe performs, 8 p.m. Friday
“Crush-Hopper”: Mandisa Haarhoff’s one-woman show about growing up in South Africa, 8 p.m. Saturday
“Herakles”: Staged reading of the Greek tragedy by Euripides, 2 p.m. Sunday
Where: Acrosstown Repertory Theatre, 619 S. Main St.
Tickets: $10 each or all three for $25.
“Dark nights,” they’re called. When no costume designers are making last-minute alterations and no ushers are leading the audience to their seats. No lighting directors adjusting spotlights and no actors rehearsing lines.
Karelisa Hartigan, the president of the Acrosstown’s board of directors, doesn’t like dark nights.
“There’s no reason for the theater to sit idle,” she says.
So instead, Hartigan organizes events between shows, usually one-night performances. But this time, between last month’s “The Star-Spangled Girl” and “Tambourines to Glory” in March, she organized three different performances for each night running Friday through Sunday.
Theatre Strike Force, the University of Florida’s improvisational group, opens the weekend Friday with an evening of long-form improvisation, including a comedic opening.
On Saturday, Mandisa Haarhoff performs her one-woman show, “Crush-Hopper,” about growing up in South Africa.
Haarhoff, a Fulbright scholar from South Africa, began writing “Crush-Hopper” as part of her master’s project.
“It’s me showing my understanding who I am and grappling with post-apartheid South Africa,” she says. “‘Crush-Hopper’ deals with race in a very simple but very realistic and very personal way that other people can relate to.”
Haarhoff says she frames “Crush-Hopper” around her crushes on three boys.
“It’s woven around infatuation and crushing and liking somebody and having the desire to be with them,” she says. “You could take the boys out and we’d still have a story, but this allows me to get into a discussion of not just race but also relationships.”
The original script of “Crush-Hopper” is in a combination of Afrikaans, Xhosa (one of the official languages of South Africa) and English, but Haarhoff says she tries to emphasize the English in her performances.
“Language is a huge part of the play, so I try not to lose that,” she says. “But it’s my story and I know how it’s supposed to go.”
The final performance will be a staged reading of the Greek tragedy “Herakles” by Euripides.
“The message of Greek drama is continuous,” Hartigan says. “Herakles faced the worst possible consequences, and the message of going against hardship is meaningful still today.”
Because Greek drama typically has little action, Hartigan says she doesn’t have to change much for this staging.
“Seeing reader’s theater production is almost as good as seeing a staged performance,” she says. “The words alone can resonate across the centuries.”
Part of the appeal of three different shows in three nights, Hartigan says, is the wide variety of interest for the audience.
“We have unscripted made-up pieces to the oldest Greek tragedy,” she says. “My goal was to show theater in as many forms.”
Theatre Strike Force performs at 8 p.m. Friday, Crush-Hopper will be performed at 8 p.m. Saturday and “Herakles” will be read at 2 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $10 or all three for $25 and can be purchased at the door or by calling the Acrosstown Repertory Theatre at 505-0868.
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