Both Hands Theatre Company will present a staged reading of Brooms: A Play About Saying Yes, an original play written by Both Hands' co-founders and co-artistic directors Cheryl Chamblee and Tamara Kissane, Saturday and Sunday at Manbites Dog Theater in Durham, NC. In addition to Chamblee and Kissane, the cast will include Beth Popelka and Nicole Quenelle.
"In the Both Hands Theatre Company tradition," writes Cheryl Chamblee, "Brooms: A Play About Saying Yes hyperbolizes a situation, adds a bit of zany, and lets us look at the truth from a different perspective. In Brooms, creators [Kissane and Chamblee] explore the extraordinary decision of life-partnership. The [four] women of Brooms have at their disposal four telephones, a mailbox, some music stands, and (of course) brooms. With these tools, these women engage in an unusual process designed to get them to the altar, set to tie the knot, ready to jump the broom."
Brooms, presented as part of Manbites Dog's Other Voices series, "shows us four women who are given an unusual opportunity to make a life-changing decision," Chamblee writes.
She says, "Both Hands Theatre Company is committed to developing work in a highly collaborative process, using the passions and preoccupations of the contributing artists as a springboard for creating new theatre. Both Hands Theatre Company works with scored text, and we continue to be interested in the ways in which that technique allows each audience member to experience a piece of theatre uniquely.
Chamblee writes, "[We] began developing [our] process in North Carolina while working together on Acid Fairy, a compilation of found texts, and The Space Between, an original script by Jennifer Gross."
Cheryl Chamblee and Tamara Kissane created Both Hands Theatre Company in 1997. "[We] wrote and performed Imaginary Numbers," Chamblee writes, "[our] first foray into the textual scoring format. After [we] moved away from North Carolina, [we] began a long-distance writing collaboration that culminated in the Chicago performances of Polyphony: A Play About Going in the fall of 2000. A second long-distance collaboration resulted in Squeaky Wheels, which was performed Oberlin and Chicago in the fall of 2001. Both Hands Theatre Company's 2002 Chicago creation was a heavily scored and highly choreographed workshop production of [a play] collaboratively developed with other people."
Cheryl Chamblee has since returned to the Triangle. She began working on Brooms with Tamara Kissane last year.
"Because of other things happening in each of our lives," admit Chamblee and Tamara Kissane in a joint interview. "we had not created a new piece since the summer of 2002. By the fall of 2003, we were both feeling the need to make something new. In our previous pieces, Both Hands Theatre Company explored aspects of indecision, uncertainty, and paralysis in the face of life's big questions. For our new project, we wanted to move forward in our exploration of those concepts and focus on decision-making, the actual decision itself, and the consequences of such decisions. We had already written several pieces of text with which to begin our exploration, so we started with those."
They add, "Actually, we tried hard not to write this play. We didn't want to write a play about romantic relationships, but the piece kept wanting to be about that. We finally embraced that, and now we feel good about it. Choosing (or choosing not to choose) a life partner is a big, basic, important thing in the life of almost every single person in this society."
Both Hands' co-founders note, "We used a couple of fundraising events earlier this year to get a sense of how people responded to particular excerpts of new text. We got rid of the parts that weren't working, and we incorporated some of the pieces that did work into Brooms. The current iteration of Brooms is a staged reading, and we hope to produce it fully in the future."
Kissane and Chamblee say, "We have been collaborating long-distance for several years now, which has certain advantages, but always poses challenges as well. Because of the logistical challenges inherent in long-distance collaboration, coupled with the necessity of a building strong ensemble to perform the intricate text, the creation and rehearsal of our plays often takes nine months to a year."
Chamblee and Kissane say, "We hope that each audience member will find something meaningful to him or her personally. This play comes at you from many different directions and just lays things out in front of you. Certain moments, text, and feelings will resonate with you, and they may or may not be the same things that affect your friend or your mom or even your partner."
Second Opinion: June 23rd Independent Weekly preview by Byron Woods: http://indyweek.com/durham/current/woods.html.
Both Hands Theatre Company presents Brooms: A Play About Saying Yes Saturday-Sunday, June 26-27, at 8:15 p.m. at Manbites Dog Theater, 703 Foster St., Durham, North Carolina. $10. 919/682-3343 or http://www.tix.com/Schedule.asp?OrganizationNumber=150 [inactive 8/04]. http://www.manbitesdogtheater.org/108/.