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From left, top: Annie Landenberger, Tino Benson, Tom Ely; middle: Dan Lloyd, Rose Watson, Jonathan Kinnersley; bottom: Cameron Cobane, John Ogorzalek.

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WILLIAMSVILLE — Solos Episode 1 — a video montage of monologues and poetry by eight local actors filmed by Brattleboro Community Television — premieres on BCTV and YouTube Friday, Nov. 13, at 7:30 p.m.

The show is coordinated with a participative online session where audience members will have a chance to meet the cast, directors, producers and technical staff in a virtual “after-party” at 8:15 p.m.

Each episode of Solos is a co-production of The Rock River Players of Williamsville and the Hooker-Dunham Theater in Brattleboro, filmed on the Hooker-Dunham stage.

Bahman Mahdavi of the Rock River Players coordinated this first episode of the series. Mahdavi and the players were in the midst of working with nearly two dozen performers to create a production of “The Front Page” when the pandemic hit. With in-person performance not a viable option, he became excited by the idea of developing solo shows that could be safely filmed and made available through BCTV and online.

Annie Landenberger, founder of the Rock River Players, stresses the importance of creativity in the face of the pandemic: “The Rock River Players are all about keeping the lively arts alive in the Valley and yet, here we are, stymied by a COVID reality. Kudos to Bahman for facing that reality and keeping theater alive for us, albeit virtually. Moreover he — in partnership with Jon Mack of Hooker Dunham and BCTV — have created a model that can endure as long as it needs to — until the dark cloud lifts, until we can applaud theater together again live, en masse.”

“Even though the performances are by single individuals, the aim of Solos is to bring actors, directors and writers together with their audience,” said Mack, who runs the Hooker-Dunham Theater. “The performing arts are all about the connection between artist and audience. The Hooker-Dunham is delighted to be hosting and co-producing an event which makes that connection while keeping safe. By collaborating with the Rock River Players, we can forge ahead to create exciting work.”

This first show in the series is comprised of seven monologues and one poem. John Ogorzalek performs Edgar Allan Poe’s “Annabelle Lee,” Dan Lloyd enacts a Shakespeare monologue on the plight of immigrants, Cameron Cobane takes on Richard III’s “Now is the winter of our discontent” and Annie Landenberger performs a piece from Chekov’s “The Cherry Orchard.” Tom Ely performs the Inquisitor’s monologue from George Bernard Shaw’s Saint Joan. Comic relief is provided by Jonathan Kinnersley in a cat’s view of its human “master” and Rose Watson performs “Always Ridiculous” by Jose Echegaray. Tino Benson will perform an original piece, titled “The Meaning of Life.”

Other shows are in the pipeline: The next episode includes more Shakespeare performed by Michael Kennedy and Adrienne Major, T.S. Eliot’s “Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” and an excerpt from an original play, “Charles Henry’s Final Curtain” performed by Ron Bos-Lun. Mahdavi has already begun working up a show consisting of entirely original work, and a one-person show by Bill Forchion is also in development.

To request links to the YouTube video and the after-party email info@hookerdunham.org. Both the premiere and the after-party are free of charge and sharing of the after-party link is encouraged.


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