Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Available Light Theatre Presents Skyscrapers of the Midwest

Skyscrapers of the Midwest, a graphic novel by Joshua Cotter, is an odd yet haunting and affecting tale of two young boys, depicted as anthropomorphic cats, growing up in the 1980's.  As he writes in his blog, Matt Slaybaugh, founder of Columbus, Ohio acting troupe Available Light Theatre, began to see the possibilities of adapting the comic for the stage shortly after first encountering it in 2008.  Thus, Slaybaugh got in touch with Cotter and began the process of transforming the sequential narrative into a live theatrical experience.
The results of that process are on display beginning tomorrow night as Skyscrapers of the Midwest, the play, written and directed by Slaybaugh, begins a two weekend run at the Riffe Center's Studio Two Theatre in Downtown Columbus.  Appearing in the production are Emily Bach, Acacia Duncan, Drew Eberly, Jordan Fehr, Adam Humphrey, Brant Jones, Leigh Lotocki, Elena Perantoni, and Ian Short.
When I wrote that Skyscrapers, the comic, was odd, that was by no means intended as a slight.  Based on the fact that he included giant robots in the story, I get the feeling that "odd" is, at least in part, exactly what Cotter was going for.  It was those same giant robots that lead me to wonder as I read the book how Matt was going to bring this story to the stage. I'm looking forward to seeing how he pulled it off.  I've been told that the art of puppetry is involved.
Showtimes are tomorrow thru Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m., and next Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m.  Select performances will be followed by what is called a Talkback.  This is a feature of most Available Light productions during which Slaybaugh and the cast will discuss the show and answer questions from the audience.  Talkbacks allow the audience to get a glimpse of the creative process, while at the same time giving the production company an immediate sense of the reaction to their efforts. 
Available Light employs a unique "pay what you want" pricing strategy for nearly all of its productions, Skyscrapers included.  This means there are no set ticket prices, allowing patrons to pay what they can afford or what they feel the show is worth. As stated on Available Light's web-site, "It’s simply a better world when we can all afford to see good shows, no matter how much cash we’ve got in our wallets on a daily’s about removing the barriers between you and great art"
Skyscrapers of the Midwest promises to be another great show from Available Light Theatre, and I strongly urge anyone in the Columbus area with an interest in either theatre or comics to head downtown this weekend or next and check it out.

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