Monday, July 30, 2007

Building the "American Machine"

posted by Jim Lantz
Writer/Director, American Machine

Starry Night Productions and The Flynn Center present Jim Lantz's newest play, American Machine, in FlynnSpace September 25 through October 7.

Lantz is keeping friends updated about the play's progress through a series of e-newsletters, portions of which he has graciously allowed the FlynnBlog to reprint.

The following excerpts are from Lantz's July 29 e-newsletter, in which he shares some insights into the day-to-day challenges of producing an independent play and reminds theatergoers about Starry Night's opening night benefit for The Burlington Schools' Food Project. For even more information, visit American Machine's website.

What's our play about?

Part parable on the American dream, part cautionary tale taken from the headlines, American Machine tells the story of a great factory that once made parts for classic American cars. As a makeshift family of six friends come together each night to work, they're soon faced with rumors that their employer will be downsizing—or even closing altogether. As they begin working on a new order—making buckets and mops for Wal-Mart—the prospect of being split up looms before them, and their dedication to the once-proud factory is put to the test.

Where are we now?

Cast ... After months of auditions that have taken us from the far reaches of Vermont to Ellenville, New York, (where the TV antennae was invented, and Flynn Marketing Manager Lani Stack's familial seat), we're proud to announce our all-Vermont cast. We're glad to welcome back actors Dennis McSorley and Colin Cramer, who were part of The Bus [Lantz's last play, which was presented in FlynnSpace last fall]. As well as welcoming three very talented actresses joining us, Bridget Butler, Teresa Lorenco, and Chris Caswell. Seth Jarvis, who directed The Bus, is also a talented actor and has joined the cast, too.

... We've started building our sets which includes part of a working injection molding machine. We plugged it in last night—and it works! Normally an injection molding machine is about the size of a Winnebego and weighs tons, but between a set animator at the Shakespeare Theatre in D.C.; (thank you, St. Mike's grad Mark Prey); a plastics factory in Virginia, (thank you Valley Industrial Plastics); and a talented student from Cooper Union, (thank you Sam Rudy), our machine will be less imposing as we place it behind an open stage door to fit nicely onstage at FlynnSpace.

... It's hard to believe it's only eight weeks to the opening of our play, so rehearsing has already become part of our weekly ritual. We've moved to our permanent rehearsal home at The Soda Plant, (thank you Steve Conant!).

... By far the toughest part of putting on a play is raising our budget. We're lucky to live in a community where the arts are so generously supported, (for instance, I can't imagine producing The Bus in, say, Lubbock, Texas). ... As an independent production, our budget comes completely from corporate and individual sponsorships. So far, we've raised about half of our budget, but we've still got a long ways to go. If you'd like to become a sponsor of American Machine, shoot us an e-mail and we'll show you how!

Opening Night Benefit for Burlington Schools' Food Project
See a play and support a great cause! ... On Tuesday evening, September 25, the opening night performance of American Machine will benefit The Burlington Schools' Food Project100% of all proceeds from this show will go to the project to support healthy fruits and vegetables for students at Burlington schools and to support CSA farm shares for food service employees at Burlington school cafeterias.

Tickets for the benefit are $15 and may be purchased at City Market in Burlington after September 1. For more information, visit American Machine's website.

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