The Other Two Men: Credits & Acknowledgements

At the end of the workshop reading and Q&A  of my play last November, Alex Pease spoke to me about getting the script ready for production.   One of the first things he said was:  “Theater is collaborative.”

 

To honor that truth, let me say that I owe every success of the first production of my science fiction play “The Other Two Men” (review) to the professional acumen and hard work of many, many partners, advisers, and benefactors —

 

Lisa Shapter wishes to thank Christopher T. Garry and Back Denim Lit, the first venue to take a risk on these characters.  She also wishes to thank everyone who came out to see the reading or the production of a new work of science fiction as experimental live theater.  She also extends her profound gratitude to every actor who auditioned for an unknown role in a new play set in the far future.  She also thanks James Patrick Kelly for his generosity of soul and his commitment to science fiction in New England; Alex Pease (and Outcast Productions) for his guidance and encouragement, Tomer Oz (and Oz Productions) for his kindness and dedication; playwright David Mauriello for his solicitude and wise advice; Tomer Oz for his audio narration and concept art and Kaitlyn Huwe for poster art; Jasmin Hunter (and Jasmin Hunter Photography) for publicity photos; Joi Smith (Back Alley Productions) for publicity; Sam Smith, Alex Pease, Bretton Reis (lighting design), Mike Kimball (sound design), and Tomer Oz for giving their all on lighting and sound; Barbara Newton for holding the whole place together; and the Generic Theatre and the Players’ Ring for taking a risk on this (and other) new work in the Reading Series and Late Night Series.  She also wishes to thank the Generic Theatre‘s Susan Turner and Collin Snider.  She particularly wishes to thank the play’s two leads Bailey Weakley and Emery Lawrence, whose gifts and skills kept turning up things about these characters and their relationship that (the author was certain) only appeared in as-yet unpublished short stories.  (These talents are all the more evident when they are working with material by experienced script writers.)  It has been a pleasure and an honor to work with all of you.

 

Oz Productions wishes to thank PPMTV for their rehearsal space, Lisa, Emery, Bailey, Sam, Alex, Brett, Mike, Tin, Jaz, Todd, Joi, Peter, Barb and everybody else at The Players’ Ring, Generic Theater and everybody who was part of the reading, everybody who auditioned, and anybody else who was involved in making this production what it is today!  Also, thanks to you, the audience for coming to see the show!

 

The Players’ Ring wishes to thank all of its members (become one today!), volunteers, and LCHIP donors!  It also wishes to thank its 24th season sponsors:  the Atlantic Grill, Allegra Marketing, the EDGE, Heinemann Publishing,  and the Sound.  It also wishes to thank its generous supporters at Pickwick Mercantile, Garrison Players, Federal Savings Bank, Geno’s Chowder and Sandwich Shop, Ambrosia Gardens Florist, Piscataqua Savings Bank, Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt, Ceres St. Bakery, The Salt Cellar, Generic Theater’s production of Love, Loss and What I Wore by Nora and Delia Ephron, Cavarretta Gardens, The Seacoast Repertory Theater (The Rep), the New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources for its grant via its Conservation License Plate Grant Program (the ones with the moose!), Hazel Boutique, the Library Restaurant, Kennedy Gallery and Framing, Old Ferry Landing Restaurant, Discover Portsmouth, Tugboat Alley, Puttin’ in the Glitz, Great Bay Spa & Sauna, Portsmouth Book & Bar, Louis Clarizio DDS PA, Esta Resale Clothing, Sanders Fish Market, The Press Room, New Hampshire Professional Theater Association, Music on Wheels & DJ Mile Pomp, and The District Restaurant, and the Portsmouth Gas Light Restaurant.

 

Support the arts by supporting these local businesses!   Lisa Shapter also wishes to acknowledge the following friends of the arts:

 

210 Hair Salon, B.G.’s Boathouse, Bubby’s Deli, the Greater Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce, Philbrick’s Fresh Market, Fresh Press Juice, Warner’s Hallmark Store on Market Square, Hannaford’s Supermarket, the Ice House Restaurant, Jardiniere Flowers, the ever-helpful Information Kiosk in Market Square, Justin’s Seafood Hut (Hebert Brothers), Kittery Trading Post, the Life is Good Clothing Store on Market Square, Lexie’s Joint Burgers, Dr. Mark Moses, Pink Bamboo Hotpot Cafe Restaurant, Portsmouth Public Library, River Run Bookstore (they carry my work), Robert’s Maine Grill Restaurant, Seaport Fish, Sheafe Street Books, Spectrum by Design Hair Salon, Water Street Bookstore (they carry my work).

 

Credits:

Theater Programs and Posters:  Southport Printing Company

Ms. Shapter’s Florist:  Jardiniere Flowers

Ms. Shapter’s Makeup Provided by CHANEL

Makeup Artist:  Camille at CHANEL (Macy’s) (Ask for her at the CHANEL counter!)

Ms. Shapter’s Hair by 210 Hair Salon

Hair Stylist:  Melissa at 210 (Ask for her!)

 

 

 

 

Stirring sci-fi at The Ring (Review of “The Other Two Men” in the The Sound)

Stirring sci-fi at The Ring

Jul 21, 2016

Emery Lawrence (left) and Bailey Weakley star in
Emery Lawrence (left) and Bailey Weakley star in “The Other Two Men.” photo by Jasmin Hunter

“The Other Two Men” is thought-provoking theater

Modern society’s interpretation of history is never certain. Despite our best attempts to learn from the past, our current resources limit us from experiencing the proper lesson. We try anyway, for as the old saying goes, “Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.”

A new play on stage at The Players’ Ring in Portsmouth is spinning that popular belief into a reverse concept: If we were to repeat the past, would we learn from it?

In “The Other Two Men,” presented by Oz Productions, this question is explored through the interactions between Saskatoon II (Emery Lawrence) and Nebraska II (Bailey Weakley), clones of two of the four long-dead founding fathers of a future society built upon a colonized Milky Way galaxy. Saskatoon and Nebraska are under observation by their creators, who hope to discover historical intricacies by replicating the lives of the original two founders through their clones. But the controlled nature of their existence causes the clones to question and debate the ethics and value of such an endeavor.

Written by Lisa Shapter and directed by Tomer Oz, the two-man show is great entertainment for fans of the sci-fi genre, particularly those seeking a production with non-traditional plotlines. “The Other Two Men” is attractively unorthodox, a good choice for anyone looking for a different kind of theater experience.

The scenery and detail of the set is refreshingly sparse, allowing the audience to devote all of its attention to the two actors onstage. The spotlight remains on Lawrence and Weakley, who cope with the pressure through a dedicated maintenance of character. Their dialogue is steady and their facial expressions reflect the strong emotions their characters are feeling. The two stars develop and maintain a clear chemistry.

photo by Jasmin Hunter

Despite the compatibility of the actors, Nebraska and Saskatoon have conflicting reactions to their circumstances. While Nebraska continually expresses worry and doubt about their situation, Saskatoon is more resigned to his fate and optimistic about the outcome of the experiment. Although this dynamic creates an interesting tension between the two, Saskatoon gets somewhat short-changed as a character, lacking Nebraska’s depth and vulnerability. This results in a slight imbalance in the plot.

The lighting for the production is well done, but some of the sound effects are vague, particularly the source and meaning of the sounds the characters hear in their heads. Furthermore, the narration that accompanies different scenes is often difficult to understand and too brief for the audience to adequately consider.

But the artfulness of the writer and director, the performance of the actors, and the skill of the crew are all on full display in this production. The cast and crew’s ingenuity has created a compelling and thought-provoking show out of scant resources.

Audiences will not easily brush off the effects of “The Other Two Men” once they leave the theater — they will be made to think, and they will be made to feel.

“The Other Two Men” is onstage at The Players’ Ring in Portsmouth through July 24. Show times are Friday and Saturday at 10 p.m. and Sunday at 9 p.m. Tickets are $12, available here.

Link: http://soundnh.com/stirring-sci-fi-at-the-ring/

My Play “The Other Two Men” Was Performed This Summer!

Thanks to the talent and focused dedication of the two actors, the director, and the production and theater staff, “The Other Two Men” was the first play in The Players’ Ring (Portsmouth, New Hampshire, USA) annual summer Late Night (new play) Series‘ 15 year history to receive a review  (you can also read a preview review here);  it was a success in a long-running, beloved Late Night Series well-populated with established playwrights (see the rest of the series here!);  and the unusual genre of science fiction went over well with theater audiences.  (I was in the lobby after each show and instead a grappling with an unfamiliar concepts the audiences:  1) enthused about the actors, 2) asked when they could see the play again.)

 

What was it all about?

 

My play “The Other Two Men” is part of a local 30-year tradition of doing ambitious small-cast science fiction in regional black box theaters. This play is set 800 years in the future in a colonized Milky Way galaxy. In this production, historians on an established colony world decide to clone two of their four planetary founders in order to solve the problem of what went wrong in their lives. These clones are raised in strict historical recreations of their 300-years-gone-by North America hometowns and are given the same military training as their originals.

This play is about the day the two young men meet.
They find themselves locked in one room until they solve an unspecified problem about the past. Some things go wrong … historians on this colony planet have only cloned two of the four founding figures; the clones have figured out they are duplicates of famous long-dead men and everyone around them is an actor in a living history museum; and they’re two unique new people – not their original, heroic progenitors.
This is a story about free will and predestination – what can and cannot be planned. It’s also a story about what is us and what has been pre-programmed by our circumstances. I’ve been writing about these characters for two years and I’m exited to bring them – and their unique problem – to the New Hampshire Players’ Ring Late Night Readings Series under the direction of Tomer Oz (not the martial arts expert on IMDB — the New Hampshire director/actor who is currently playing the electric moral center of the Ring’s current production of Rajiv Joseph‘s  Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo).

“The Other Two Men” started as a short story. This play stands on its own but it can be viewed alongside my 18-story series featuring these characters that will be published in Black Denim Lit over the next few years. Three of the stories have already appeared: “This is Not a Love Story”, “Searching”, and “Planet 50”. Two other stories will follow this year. All of my work is interconnected: each work stands on its own but each piece adds depth and nuance to the others. Those who see this play will know things about these characters that no one knows – and I am thrilled to contribute (in a very small way) to the area’s unique heritage of live science fiction.

 

I’d particularly like to thank M. Marguerite Mathews & Greg Gathers, the Artistic Directors of Pontine Theatre, for their encouragement; the insightful actor/writer Alex Pease and the Generic Theater (NH) for their guidance and good advice at the reading last November.)

-Lisa Shapter

 

New Englanders, Come See My Play! (July 15-24, 2016)

“The Other Two Men” at The Players’ Ring (review)

Reading: Wed., Nov. 11, 7:30 p.m. FREE

Performances:  July 15-24, 2016

Cast:

Emery Lawrence as Sgt Saskatoon* Elis II
Bailey Weakley as Sgt Nebraska Vogul II

Tomer Oz as the Voice of the Planetary Archive of Gestae’s World

Director: Tomer Oz

(not the martial arts expert on IMDB)

Presented by Oz Productions

* (Hey, you changed the guy’s name!  I didn’t — this future universe writes in a set of characters that represent individual syllables.  In this writing system “Saskatoon” and “Saskatchewanare spelled the same. To Saskatoon’s permanent annoyance everyone but Nebraska calls him the wrong name – but he’s given up trying to explain the difference. Even his computer autocorrects to “Saskatchewan”.)

The descendants of the four founders of Gestae’s World decide to clone 2 of them and raise them in careful recreations of their 300-years-gone-by hometowns in order to solve the problem of what went wrong with their lives.

This is about the day the two young men meet.

Four years ago, in about this part of November, I was working on my National Novel Writing Month novel. I had started a sequence of 74 short stories (“Planet 38” and “No Woman, No Plaything”) and I had decided the unfinished novel The 75th Story needed a sequel. That National Novel Writing Month I was writing that sequel – and about this point in the month a minor character in the novel said something to the narrator, took over her chair, and said “Author, I have a story to tell you.”

I sometimes have several narrators with different stories trying to talk to me all at once so I said what I usually say: “Get in line. You’ve interrupted the narrator I was already working with.”

The reply was quite surprising, “Well, she’s my wife. And you need to hear my story first.”

Characters spring these sorts of surprises on me all the time: in this case the first narrator, Resada Gestae, was happily married to only one person – not the second narrator. “Fine. Talk. Make it snappy, I have a 50,000 word deadline to meet by the 30th – just like every November.”

That novel made the word count by the end of the month – and I am still working on it as of this week. The same second narrator then interrupted Reseda Gestae’s sequence of 74 stories (including “Planet 38” and “No Woman, No Plaything”) to tell “Story 45” through “Story 63” (including “Searching” and “Planet 50”) – and then handed narration back to Reseda.

Just when I was thinking about revising that past November’s interrupted novel for National Novel Editing Month, the second narrator, Saskatoon Elis, interrupted again with another curve ball: a version of him from 500 years ahead started talking, the first man’s clone. So I wrote a long short story about the clone called “The Other Two Men” – while keeping up with the original story-a-week-project. I was looking at that long short story a few months later and noticed it was all in one setting and had only two main characters: rather claustrophobic or stage-y for a science fiction story, even SF stories that take place on one ship usually have more characters than that. I started to wonder if it would work as a play, so I looked for a word processor with a preloaded stage play format, lifted out all the short story’s dialogue and started a long process of re-writing (including showing the play to an actor and giving the play to my editor who writes plays for a living.)

In the process of sending my short stories to literary magazines (“The guidelines say ‘no genre’? Hey, I don’t like skiffy, either.”) I’d noticed that a few of them took scripts along with short stories, poems, and/or essays. I also sent the script to a few theaters but since I’m new at this I wrote it to be read on the page. (I went through a jag of reading The Best Play of the Year in high school, so I’ve read most of my theater rather than seen it.)

Portsmouth, New Hampshire has a decades-old tradition of small theaters who perform avant-garde, small-cast, minimal-set plays. I drew on that tradition as I turned “The Other Two Men” into a play, aware of what a small theater could and could not do. I sent to play to one of these role models: Portsmouth’s Pontine Theater and in their kind rejection note they suggested the Generic Theater might like to look at it. After a bit of confusion over how their process worked I hand-delivered three copies of the script (this is my first time out of the gate) with three copies of a form explaining in triplicate that, erm, no, I had not gone as far as casting or selecting a director for the piece – I only wrote it. I had very low hopes: my script was going into a contest against experienced playwrights who had done all of those things. I went home, sent out more short stories, and waited for another type of rejection slip – this time from a theater instead of a magazine editor.

Instead, I got an email that my play was part of a short list of 8 or so plays sent to the Players’ Ring, a second local theater, for the selection of the finalists. That was nice to know – my rejection slip would arrive a bit later than expected.

Both theaters wrote and said my first play “The Other Two Men” was selected as a finalist – however it was quite short (I knew that, my theater friends did talk me through giving an estimated run time) and it would be paired with a second play. I quietly hoped the second playwright would be better known than me – but odds were any playwright would be more experienced and better known that I was, so I was glad to hear that news.

The Generic Theater and the Players’ Ring matched my first-time play with James Patrick Kelly’s “The Promise of Space” – the man who’s won the Hugo, the Nebula, and the Locus award (and many others, besides), the man who wrote for the Sci-Fi Channel’s Seeing Ear Theater. The man with an English degree whose acclaim-starred career in science fiction is nearly longer than my lifetime.

I am deeply grateful for this, and to the Generic Theater, and the Players’ Ring, and to James Patrick Kelly (“Y’know, you don’t need *this many* stage directions”) and Alex Pease (“*Formatting*.  What script software did you use?” *kof* “I didn’t.”) for their guidance and advice.

Come see James Patrick Kelly’s “The Promise of Space” and my play “The Other Two Men” read tonight by the company of The Generic Theater at The Players’ Ring tonight at 7:30 p.m, the tickets are free.  (Cast: Alex Pease as Sgt Saskatoon Elis II, Collin Snider as Sgt Nebraska Vogul II,  Alan Huisman as Maj Saskatoon Elis I Director: Susan Turner.  (Players’ Ring Late Night Series Performances:  July 15-24, 2016) (review)

– Lisa Shapter

Reading My Stories in Order (Not That It’s Necessary)

My new short story “Nightskyman Hope” (prequel to 2015’s “Life on Earth” and Things We Are Not‘s “The World in his Throat”) is out in Expanded Horizons. Since it is part of a linked set of stories, some fans have been asking me where to catch up on the other stories.

Here is a list of the stories in internal chronological order, with links:

1) This is Not a Love Story  in Black Denim Lit (October 2015)

2) “Nightskyman Hope” in Expanded Horizons (January 2016)

3) “The World in His Throat” in Things We Are Not: An M-Brane SF Magazine Queer Science Fiction Anthology (2009)

4) “Inducement” in Black Denim Lit (forthcoming 2016)

5) “Searching” in Black Denim Lit (December 2014)

6) “Life on Earth” in Expanded Horizons (January 2015)

7) “No Woman, No Plaything” in Kaleidotrope (October 2012)

8) “Planet 38” in Four Star Stories (Summer 2013)

9) “Planet 50” in Black Denim Lit (September 2015)

10) “The Other Two Men” (Performance dates TBA Summer 2016, see: http://playersring.org/box-office/)
And an unrelated alternate history novella set in New England about the unintended side effects of a WWII-era drug developed to create affinity between an interrogator and interrogatee:
A Day in Deep Freeze Aqueduct Press (Conversation Pieces series)  (April 2015)

-Lisa Shapter