Preview article by Gail M. Burns, July 1999

(With only two staged readings offered, I was unable to see and review “Wet Paint” for “The Transcript”. This is a preview interview that I did with the author, Eric Rudd.)

Eric Rudd has lived among us here in northern Berkshire for over a decade, and we think of him as an artist, an entrepreneaur, a teacher, a landlord, and a civic leader. But this Friday and Saturday he will take on the role of playwright when his play “Wet Paint” is given a staged reading those two nights at the Manic Stage. The piece is being directed by Manic Stage Artistic Director Spencer Trova.

“We are billing this as a staged reading but technically it is a full production with scripts in hand,” Rudd explained, “Spencer is incredible director, but he is fussy about the subtleties. I thought it would be interesting just to hear the play, but he showed me that it is not effective without action.”

One fully staged piece of business is the creation of a 12.5′ x 6 ‘ painting during the course of the play. The cast starts with a blank canvas and creates a different painting every night. “I thought it would be fun to stage a painting in front of an audience – to take it out of the studio and into a traditional theatre where you wouldn’t expect it to happen,” Rudd said, “As an artist I tend to work with very fast drying materials, such as polyurethane foam. Its a very quick process. Then I realized that watching the process itself was sometimes more interesting than looking at the finished work hanging on a wall. I wanted to bring people into that process.”

Creating plastic art is the part of the process most familiar to Rudd. Working with actors, designers and a director was a new experience. “This has been an interesting and a humbling experience,” said Rudd, “You discover all your bad habits when you start putting them down in writing. Some of my script has been eliminated because it wasn’t necessary. Spencer’s motto seems to be ‘If it makes it shorter, its good'”.

Rudd found writing “Wet Paint” to be a new artistic experience as well, “I closed my eyes and these characters acted out the play – I just typed it up.” Rudd stated, “The show is about artists, art students, gallery owners, museum directors – the whole process of becoming an artist, the money involved, the money you need, and the creative process.”

Rudd promises that the play will be unusual, fun, educational, and romantic; and claims that the plot is not far fetched, that various parts of it have been lived in real life by people he knows.”I want the audience to get an inside view of what art is about,” Rudd explained, “Fun things happen, the audience will have a memorable experience. I promise you will leave the theatre pronouncing Mass MoCA differently.”

“Actors can change the written word and bring it to life,” Rudd learned, “I enjoyed the creative process. I am good at being flexible with art materials, but there are a lot of people involved. It involves a tremendous commitment from everyone. I hope that it works out. I hope that the eleven actors in the cast who worked so hard get something out of it.”

The first reading of “Wet Paint” coincides with the opening of the CAC downtown art installations which begin Friday at 5:30 PM with music all night long. Rudd and his wife Barbara founded the CAC (Contemporary Artists Center) ten years ago in the former Beaver Street Mill. People are encouraged to come downtown, view the art, dance to the music, and attend the staged reading at the Manic Stage.

Staged readings of Eric Rudd’s “Wet Paint” will be presented Friday and Saturday, July 9 and 10, at 8 PM at the Manic Stage, 55 Main Street, North Adams. Call the box office at 662-2323 for tickets and information.

copyright Gail M. Burns, 1999

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