Previewed by Gail M. Burns, April 2004
Beginning April 29, Main Street Stage is presenting a new work by Williamstown playwright Christopher Newbound entitled Morning, Noon, and Night. Newbound first began to develop the work in 2003 while taking a class at Inkberry entitled “The Art of the One-Act Play” taught by Jennifer Mattern-Lane.
“It started with this vision of a father and son sitting by the swimming pool at night smoking cigars and talking,” Newbound explained. And that was pretty much what happened in the early one-act version of the play, then called Cigars. That work became the third act of Morning, Noon, and Night as Newbound began to wonder what the wife and mother of this pair was doing and included her as a character in the full length play.
Now the work encompasses a full day in the life of the Smight family of California. Phil (Spencer Trova) and Margaret (Mary Guzzy) have been married for 42 years and have two grown children. Their daughter has already moved to the east coast, and on the day the play takes place their 30-something son John (Mike Trainor) has come to say his good-byes before he and his wife and children follow suite.
The three acts comprise three conversations that occur in the Smight’s backyard in the morning, at midday, and on the night of the day of John’s visit. In the morning we see Phil and Margaret as they rise and prepare for the day. At noon Margaret and John have a long talk about Phil while he is off playing tennis. And at night, by the pool while smoking cigars, John and Phil have their conversation.
The play is being directed by Great Barrington resident Mira Hilbert, a graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic arts who holds her M.F.A. in directing from Ohio University. “One of my favorite things is to work with a playwright on a new play,” Hilbert said, “Often modern, realistic plays become very trite and predictable. One of the beauties of Chris’ writing is that it’s not anticipatory at all. You don’t know how it’s going to end.”
Newbound is thrilled with his cast, and has enjoyed the collaborative process that inevitably accompanies the development of a script for production. “I have three or four other plays sitting at home, and it is really outstanding to see how far this one has come and how much it has improved because of the collaboration with Mira and the cast,” Newbound said.
“The play is really about how we all get stuck in routines, relationships, cycles, whether or not they are healthy,” Hilbert said, “Once we are caught in these routines it is hard to hear what other people are saying. It also explores the relationship between parents and a child and how it remains caught in the same cycle even after that child is grown-up and has children of his own.”
“The history behind family relationships sometimes has too much influence on the present,” Newbound added.
Guzzy, who is a member of the acting company and the Director of the Rose Playhouse USA Project at Shakespeare & Company, characterizes Morning, Noon, and Night as moving. “This is the kind of play an actor dreams of being involved with. Chris taps the came currents as Euguene O’Neill and Anton Chekov, where there is so much going on and all these small events add up to amazing human things. In the end you know everything has changed and yet everything will remain the same.”
Joining Guzzy in the cast are veteran area actor and Main Street Stage Executive Director Spencer Trova, and Nova Scotia native Mike Trainor, who has appeared in many shows at Main Street Stage during his five years in north Berkshire.
“The script allows audience members to side with different members of the family at different times,” Hilbert explained, “And even though it deals with some difficult issues, there is a lot of hope in the play, and an immense amount of humor.”
Although this is his first play to be produced, Newbound is a writer by trade, with experience as a journalist and editor. He holds an M.F.A. in fiction writing from Columbia University and his writing has appeared in many national magazines and literary journals. Born and raised in California, he moved to Williamstown five years ago.
Morning, Noon, and Night will run in previews April 29 and 30 and May 1 at 8 p.m. April 29 is Pay-What-You-Can Community Night. The show officially opens on May 7, with a special opening night reception following the show at the Milan 55 Main restaurant next door to the theatre. The show runs May 7, 8, 14, 15, 21 and 22 at 8 p.m., and May 16 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $8 on April 29, $10 April 30 and May 1, $25 for the gala opening night on May 7, and $15 for all other performances. “Student Rush” pricing of $5 per ticket is available at the door for every show if there is room. For tickets and information please call the Main Street Stage (413-663-3240) or visit their Web site. Main Street Stage is located at 57 Main Street in North Adams.
copyright Gail M. Burns, 2004