is the grass any bluer...

is the grass any bluer...
on the other side?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

James Brown: He Can Handle the Heat of Fahrenheit 451!

When I found out Ryan Case was looking for actors for Balagula Theatre's upcoming production of Fahrenheit 451, I secretly hoped all my friends who are actors would come out and audition.  Why?  Because Ryan tickles my fancy, Natasha is my hero, and Balagula consistently chooses plays that are thought-provoking.  When I go to the theatre, I don't want to think about what's wrong with the play, the set, the acting -- I just want to forget about the cable bill for an hour or so.  If I come away with a nagging thought that develops into an interesting conversation (even if it's with myself), then all the better.  So imagine my delight when I realized that a handful of them did indeed go try out, and a handful of them indeed have roles in the play that opens this weekend. 

One of those acting buddies that will be on stage at Natasha's is James Brown.  James is a poet, a writer, a disc jockey, a humorous pal with a gentle take on harsh issues.  He doesn't always take a gentle position, but he articulates it in a way that doesn't make me try to raise my fur with goosebumps of ire.  Another reason he's a good friend of mine is that he always, always encourages me to play the ukulele, no matter how late the hour or how awful I sound.  I do not know how he does it, but I have no fear when I play for James -- he is one friend I can honestly say is a non-snarker, a "true blue" soul.  He'll be slightly embarrassed that I'm being so complimentary of him, but that just makes him that much more likable.

A favorite at the much beloved Holler Poets Series, you may also recognize James' voice if you ever tune into the Library Channel to hear Central Kentucky Radio Eye read the Lexington Herald-Leader.  He works behind the scenes at the station, and also steps in from time to time to read when needed.  

I thought it would be a good idea to find out what role he's playing in Fahrenheit 451, and also to gain some insight to what makes this Ray Bradbury work a hot item for the Balagula stage. 
During rehearsal for BCTC's production of
A FEW GOOD MEN (with Carlos Pelayos)

James tells me, "I play a few roles, Kim. I play one of the firemen and a paramedic. But my main role is Aristotle, who is the leader of the book people. Aristotle is an interesting character because he has been away from the world for so long and yet he is the one who welcomes the hero, Montag, into this new community of rebels. I have to quickly school Montag on what he has left behind and what now lies ahead."

Not surprisingly, he is enjoying the process of bringing the play from page to stage with the folks at Balagula. "I really, really, really LOVE working with Ryan and Natasha. I've been a big fan of Balagula's work over the years and to be on stage at Natasha's is a real thrill for me, an honor. Ryan is quite a character so he's always a pleasure to be around and to work with; and he knows what he's looking for, he knows what he wants out of the play, so you know when you're moving in the right direction and when you're not, which is precisely what an actor needs from a director."
James playing my Lanakei soprano ukulele, and wearing
the Fascinator that my friend made for me. (It is a rite
of passage for all those who play uke with me to try it on :)

"The special effects and the visual/aural look and feel of the play are really marvelous. I think you'll like it, I think audiences will take to this play because there is so much to look at while you're there and much to ponder after you leave. I'm really proud of this show, really pleased with how it has come together and I'm ready to get it on!

I'm positive that James' involvement in this production will simply add more believability to the Balagula stage.  I hope you'll make time to get thee to Esplanade and make your reservation (or see below for details :)



Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, a stage adaptation of his 1953 novel, touches on the themes of human alienation in the world dominated by electronic media; dangers of state censorship; and the effect of passive consumption on human intellect.

Fahrenheit 451, an ode to literature and a manifesto of several generations of American intellectuals, is a complex dramatic piece open to wide directorial interpretation. It is full of socially relevant and theatrically inspiring challenges, that Balagula's artistic team is known to tackle.
January 29 at 8:00pm until February 8 at 8:00pm


Play Synopsis: The central character, Guy Montag, is employed as a "fireman" (which, in this future, means "bookburner"). He lives in a lonely, isolated society where books have been outlawed by a government fearing an independent-thinking public. People in this society, including Montag's wife, get their information from wall-size television screens. After Montag falls in love with book-hoarding Clarisse, he begins to read confiscated books. It is through this relationship that he begins to question the government's motives behind book-burning. Montag is soon found out, and he must decide whether to return to his job or run away knowing full well the consequences that he could face if captured.

"We need not to be let alone. We need to be really bothered once in a while. How long is it since you were really bothered? About something important, about something real?"
Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

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