Spend Hot August Weekends with Starlight Players

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(Bill Chessman, Photographer)
Suzan Lorraine directs the third production in August.

    August marks the return of the Orinda Starlight Village Players (OrSVP) to their home at the Orinda Community Center Park Amphitheater and the end of their 14-month pandemic-caused hiatus. OrSVP brings four shows to the stage this month, with a different production every weekend in August, each performing as reader’s theater.
    A minimalist style of performance where no sets are used, reader’s theater has actors openly using scripts. This means minimized rehearsals can be performed with Zoom or with social distancing and reduced social contact. “The plays are cast with actors for all the parts, directed by our wonderful directors and performed accordingly,” said Administrative Director Jill Gelster. “However, they are holding a script.”
    The month of entertainment starts Aug. 6 with Moliere’s Tartuffe, directed by Amy Cook. This is a new adaptation by Patrick Cleary which poses the question, “What if Moliere’s play had been written during this past year of the pandemic?” Join OrSVP for pop culture references and Dr. Seuss inspired rhymes in this updated take on a classic play. Performances run Aug. 6 and 7 at 8:30 p.m. and Aug. 8 at 4 p.m.
    Next up is a double bill featuring P.G. Wodehouse’s Two Left Feet and Edith Nesbit’s The Town in the Library, the Library in the Town directed by Eddie Peabody.
    The first show highlights Henry Wallace Mills and his wife Millie, an avid dancer. Henry doesn’t dance and spends his free time reading the Encyclopedia Brittanica aloud. For a year, their life is perfect, but Henry starts to feel something is missing and takes dance lessons to impress his wife, with catastrophic results.
    In the second play, Rosamund and Fabian play in the library in their home and build a huge town out of the books, only to find themselves trapped within the town when they go inside. Performances for the twin-bill start Aug. 13 and 14 at 8:30 p.m. and Aug. 15 at 4 p.m.
    The third weekend features the 10-Minutes or Less Play Festival by Bill Chessman (of local radio drama fame), directed by Suzan Lorraine. Stolen identification, tech support, island living, absurd legalese, a day at the zoo – all kinds of comedic and strange situations get presented for something a bit different at OrSVP. Performances take place Aug. 20 and 21 at 8:30 p.m., and Aug. 22 at 4 p.m.
    The month ends with Malcolm Cowler’s adaptations of three tales of the macabre: A Triple Tryst of Terror. The show starts with Edgar Allan Poe’s The Black Cat as a man recounts his decline from sanity to madness, caused by his obsession with a black cat.
    Next up is W.W. Jacobs’ The Monkey’s Paw, a talisman who grants its owner three wishes, albeit at an enormous price.
    The presentation closes with Saki’s The Open Window, wherein a man travels to the country to recover from a case of anxiety and bad nerves. The experience, however, turns out to have quite the opposite effect. Performances are Aug. 27 and 28 at 8:30 p.m. and Aug. 29 at 4 p.m.
    In the past, OrSVP provided blankets and jackets to attendees who forgot to bring their own. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, OrSVP will not do so this year.
    This all-volunteer group, which has been presenting live theater in Orinda for over 30 years, is always looking for new volunteers, both on and off stage. No one at OrSVP gets paid. Anyone interested in any aspect of theater is encouraged to contact the group at www.orsvp.org or 925.528.9225. “This is a great place to get your feet wet in community theater. So do come play with us in the park,” said Lorraine.
    She set up a GoFundMe page to help generate donations for the theatre group at www.gofundme.com/f/Orinda-Starlight-Village-Players. “For 37 years, Orinda Starlight Village Players has delighted audiences of all ages in the outdoor Orinda Community Park Amphitheater,” said Lorraine. “With no performance income last year to pay for storage of our props, furniture and costumes, we are dangerously close to losing this valuable community theater.”
    For more information, contact info@orsvp.org or visit www.orsvp.org.

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