A new series of scenes full of gripping drama and cutting-edge theatrical styles and plots debuts this weekend in Shreveport.
The Stage Center theater company is known for producing family-friendly shows, such as the summer hit, “Newsies.”
Stage Center and Marjorie Lyons Playhouse have collaborated to present the Left of Center series, which categorizes the company’s most mature and original shows.
The first production from the Left of Center series to debut will be “A Steady Rain,” a two-man play starring Equity actors Blayne Weaver and Logan Sledge.
“A Steady Rain” will run for one weekend only, August 9-11 at the Marjorie Lyons Playhouse, located at 2700 Woodlawn Ave. on the campus of Centenary College in Shreveport. Sessions are at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and at 2 p.m. on Sunday.
Tickets are $20. Tickets are available in advance at stagecenterla.com/astesteadyrain/ or call (318) 218-9978.
Be advised: The play has mature subject matter and language.
“I think that’s something people haven’t seen before. In a world where a lot of the theater we’re going to see are big, highly produced musicals, that’s not it,” said Weaver.
In 2009, “A Steady Rain”, written by Keith Huff, made its Broadway debut and became a hit play led by Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman.
“‘A Steady Rain’ is about two guys telling the story of their lives and their friendship and those very specific events that changed the course of everything,” Sledge said.
Denny (played by Weaver) and Joey (played by Sledge) are childhood best friends who will become police officers in Chicago’s Southside.
Police officers have a long history of dealing with morality issues. They each have their demons to contend with, from alcoholism to fidelity to making questionable decisions that put others at risk.
Denny is the alpha male character who acts on impulse, Sledge said, while Joey is more cautious and tries to find solace for his loneliness in the bottom of a bottle.
Their worlds are further sent spiraling out of control when the partners respond to a domestic disruption call that leads to catastrophic events, Weaver said. The fictional storyline was reportedly inspired by true events surrounding sociopath Jeffrey Dahmer and the role of two police officers in the murder of a young man.
“A Steady Rain” features darker themes described as smart, fast-paced drama.
“It’s got that kind of (Martin) Scorsese movie tone, and if you like a good gangster cop movie, it’s the closest thing you’ll see to a theatrical stage,” Weaver said.
However, live theater audiences will experience something that cannot be replicated on a cinema screen, Watson said.
“That’s everything I love about acting – it’s very theatrical, totally engaging,” said director Jared Watson. “Even if they made a movie of ‘A Steady Rain,’ it wouldn’t be anything like that because it just wouldn’t be in a cinematic form. It had to be done on stage, it had to be done live in front of people. , and that’s what I find so exciting about it.”
The script is loaded with monologues and heavy dialogue. At climax moments, dialogue between characters is put on hold so they can break through the fourth wall to share their inner thoughts with the audience.
“It’s kind of like that kind of Shakespearean soliloquy but in a very modern tone,” Weaver said.
The production lasts 90 minutes, without intermission, during which the actors will have to carry the piece with the bare minimum of sets and accessories.
Watson and lighting designer Samuel Copeland maintained a simplistic staging to tell a complex story. The stage is set up with a few chairs along with lighting design and sound effects, which helps set the tone.
“We could have really tried to create this police environment where they were touching and moving things and still doing something, but I thought, ‘Let’s cut all that out and just let the story speak for itself,'” he said. said Watson.
The play asks the actors to show their vulnerability with nothing to hide behind. Much like law enforcement partners, Weaver and Sledge will have to rely solely on each other.
“The most important thing is to trust the partner you’re with. I would say that was the biggest challenge and the most unique,” Weaver said.
However, sharing a scene is not unheard of for the two. Earlier this year, the two co-starred in Stage Center’s “A Few Good Men.”
“A Steady Rain” is the first in the Left of Center series, but don’t expect it to be the last. Theater companies plan to bring more experiential and innovative theater to the stage.
“That’s not to say they’ll always be R-rated or they’ll always be ‘mature’ but they’ll probably be something you’ve never heard of before,” Watson said.