A Celebration of All Things Cultural, Artistic, and Entertaining in Madison
Mar 24, 2010
Fitting because it was an extremely compelling story about a man who holds his mortgage broker hostage for three days in Indianapolis in 1977. Because it was written by a local playwright. Because in the context of the two other works of the season—All About Eve and Why Torture is Wrong … and the People who Love Them—it helped define Forward as a company that makes bold choices and offers something different at every turn.
Thinking boldly was a hallmark of the company from the start, says artistic director Jennifer Uphoff Gray. Some people thought she and her company were unwise to open during an economic recession; others questioned their decision to go after premieres. And yet, their first season was a success—financially and in the eyes of the local theater community.
“That’s just been the lesson: Keep reaching high,” she says.
Each work of the season brought something new—and not just on stage. All About Eve was an emotional high point for Uphoff Gray and others at Forward. “Just about everyone involved played a role,” she says, whether it was on stage or behind the scenes.
Securing the rights to put on Why Torture is Wrong, the brand-new play by Christopher Durang, before many larger cities was a surprise even to Uphoff Gray. “It was a long-shot,” she says, and landing it was validating for the young company. “That was a good day,” she adds.
And ending the season with Kiritsis, a work by a Madison playwright featuring four respected actors? “It’s satisfying,” says Uphoff Gray.
While she can’t reveal what’s slated for next season, Uphoff Gray says it will be bigger. And it will offer the diversity that characterized the first. “The new season will be similar in that respect,” she says. “We have an obligation to present lots of different kinds of works.”
She’s eager to keep the momentum of this first year going.
“The whole thing has felt relatively charmed,” she says. “It’s been a pretty magical first year. And I’m gung-go about what’s to come.”
For more information on Forward Theater Company, visit forwardtheater.com.
Photo—of Kiritsis actor and co-director Sam White and playwright David Schanker—courtesy of Forward Theater Company.