What happens when two strangers meet on a bench?
You’ll find out this week when Yellow Point Drama Group (YPDG) presents two short plays with musical accompaniment.
YPDG is taking its show, called Duet for Bench, on the road this Thursday (May 8), Friday (May 9) and Saturday (May 10). The show features a simple bench as the focal point for two stories, which are tied together by the musical accompaniment of busker Ben Ziakin.
In Rappaport Redux, two strangers from different social backgrounds negotiate their right to sit on a park bench.
“Their turf war soon evolves into a discovery of how each came to be in their current plight,” according to a press release from YPDG.
Starring Ted Girard and Barrie Baker and directed by Brian March, the play won best original script at the 2013 Vancouver Island One Act Festival.
In Ferris Wheel, two people share the bench in an amusement park. Their anxieties and fears come to a head when the bench (serving as a chair) gets stuck at the top of the ferris wheel. Starring Barbara Metcalf and Gordon McInnis, this second short play is directed by Diane Faux.
March, who is president of YPDG, is looking forward to bringing YPDG shows into new spaces.
“The group is always looking at ways of extending themselves to new people and new opportunities to get people to know about our club,” he said. “We thought this might be a neat way to do that, go into neat spaces that aren’t necessarily known for plays.”
To bring the show on the road, YPDG wanted something simple. The drama group had already produced a play March had written for the Vancouver Island One Act Festival, and they had been wanting to put that show on again, so they revamped it and decided to do an evening with this play, Rappaport Redux, and Ferris Wheel.
When March wrote Rappaport Redux, he was inspired by the Broadway play I’m Not Rappaport, in which two old men from different racial backgrounds meet on a park bench and start getting to know each other as they trade stories.
In March’s play, the two people who meet are from different social backgrounds — one is a street person who is a bit rough around the edges, while the other is a former teacher.
“They both have similar issues,” said March. “They’re both lonely and trying to get over something in their past. Both are stuck in time in a way. It’s offbeat. I labelled it a tragic comedy because there are some moments of rather deep sadness for both of them and, at the same time, some moments where they are rather combative and fight for control of the bench.”
The second play, Ferris Wheel, was written by Mary Miller, a playwright from the U.S.
“This time, the bench is a ferris wheel bench, and two strangers are put together on the same bench,” said March. “They each have their own personal issues. One is afraid of heights and facing that fear, and the other is trying to re-kindle a passion he had as a kid. They kind of sort out each other’s pasts and where they came from and how they got to be there. It makes for, again, a kind of dramatic comedy. Both plays are about strangers coming together and finding common ground.”
March says they’ve been discovering a lot about the characters as they’ve been rehearsing for the show.
YPDG will be presenting just three performances of Duet for Bench — Thursday, May 8 at the North Oyster Community Hall (13467 Cedar Rd.); Friday, May 9 at the Ladysmith Waterfront Gallery (610 Oyster Bay Dr.) and Saturday, May 10 at the Cedar Community Hall (2388 Cedar Rd.). For each show, doors open at 7:30 p.m., and the performances start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 at the door, and seating is limited.
“I think for the audience coming in, it’s a very intimate room, and it’s quite different from your basic community theatre,” said March. “You’re very close to the action, and there’s a certain intimacy about that. If it’s done well, it just creates a connection between the audience and actors.”
To learn more about Duet for Bench, visit www.yellowpointdramagroup.org.