by Kirby Lindsay, posted 8 October 2012
On October 18th, ‘Demon Dreams,’ written by Tommy Smith and directed by A.J. Epstein, will open for a month-long run at West Of Lenin theatre. This will be the second play written by Smith to be produced in Fremont – at West of Lenin – this year. However, unlike ‘White Hot,’ which over-delivered on its promise of ‘pitch black melodrama,’ with ‘Demon Dreams’ Smith gives audiences a story accessible and appropriate for all-ages.
A Feeling ‘Jovial And Light’
Originally written for the Williamstown Theatre Festival, premiere performances of this play took place on the main stage before a diverse, all-ages audience. “Both ‘White Hot’ and ‘Demon Dreams’ were written within a year of each other,” Smith said in a recent interview, “but others might not believe they were from the same author.”
For those who saw ‘White Hot’, ‘Demon Dreams’ may come as a shock – but not in any of the same ways. “I would underline – you can see this show, and enjoy it,” Smith said, “It’s the one that I’m inviting my parents to see.”
Like ‘White Hot’, this play contains some violence but this time Smith presents it as a part of the story – rather than the inevitable and gut-tearing result. “Walking out of ‘Demon Dreams,’ the feeling is jovial and light,” he said, “But I still think I got to them.”
As a playwright, Smith tells stories in a style that avoids excessive language or ornamentation. With ‘Demon Dreams,’ the play explores, he said, “how awful things can exist inside a human being, as well as the beautiful, and good impulses.” He has incorporated influences from Japanese culture, and presents a story that strays from the Western tendency to see what Smith called, “the binary,” of only good and bad.
‘Life Of A Theater Artist’
While Smith currently lives in New York, he said, “I am definitely from Seattle.” He has worked, as an actor and a playwright, with the ACT, Seattle Repertory and Intiman theaters, and acknowledged that, “I’m still pretty steeped in the Seattle scene.” His connections in our area remain so strong, “that I’m 1/10th a Seattle resident,” he said.
“The life of a theater artist, means finding venues that will do your work,” Smith said. “I spend enough time in enough places to be a resident of many. I see myself living at the place that I find work.” With expanding opportunities at West of Lenin, and overall theater in Fremont, it is to be hoped Smith will be called to work at the Center of the Universe more often.
“There is no discernible way to get a play produced,” Smith said. “There are usually four to five people deciding,” which play to produce at any venue, he explained, and each one of those people have their own agenda. “I think it just requires being in love with your work,” he said, and to admit to confidence. “Just like wanting to be around couples that are really happy,” he said, producers and/or directors of venues choose plays written by writers that believe in what they wrote.
‘An Openness And Generosity’
It was Smith’s strong connections to Seattle theater that brought him to Fremont. A fan of the production of Smith’s play ‘Sextet’ at Washington Ensemble Theatre in 2010, last winter Mark Siano chose ‘White Hot’ as the first production of a drama by his company Marxiano Productions. According to Smith, when he and Siano went looking for a place for the production, “West of Lenin came about because we were looking for venues about that size.”
While working on the show, Smith started talking with the theater owner Epstein about ‘Demon Dreams’. “I feel very confident in it as a piece,” Smith said, “it’s not very tricky. It has an openness and generosity to whoever is producing it.” The personalities of the characters come out very easily, as the play investigates its plot in story book format. “A kid as young as five could come and see it, and understand,” the playwright said.
Tickets to ‘Demon Dreams’ at West of Lenin can be purchased through Brown Paper Tickets. The show runs from October 18th – November 10th, and the cast features Matthew Aguayo, Susanna Burney, Chris Macdonald, Heather Persinger, Sara Peterson, and Carter Rodriquez. The production also features the design talents of Rick Lorig, David Vaught, Sara Mosher and Dominic Cody Kramers.
The tendency among Fremonsters to delay may leave you out of this opportunity. Seats for this show could become tougher and tougher to come by as word-of-mouth spreads so now is the best time to reserve your time and place.
For more information on Tommy Smith, visit his website at http://smithsmith.wordpress.com/
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©2012 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.