Staff photos by Dean H. Borgwardt
ACTRESS Zoë Yeoman plays the role of respected short-story writer Ruth Steiner in Collected Stories.
No, it's not a new soap opera, but rather the lineup for Canyon Moon's Splinter Series.
Now in its second year, the Splinter Series features material that is more in-depth and adventuresome, says Mary G. Guaraldi, producing artistic director of Canyon Moon Theatre Company.
The series "splinters" off from the Main Season hence the name. Canyon Moon Theatre kicked off its Main Season earlier this month with the comedy I Hate Hamlet.
Last year the Splinter Series featured three plays with mostly male roles, but this year Guaraldi has found more plays with great roles for women, she says. CMTC presents its second Splinter Series beginning Nov. 6-23 with Collected Stories by Donald Margulies. Margulies had previously been nominated for a Pulitzer for this play.
In this provocative play, respected short-story writer Ruth Steiner becomes the mentor to budding fiction writer Lisa Morrison. Ruth eventually welcomes the awe-struck student, revealing secrets of the craft and intimate details of her painful past including a shattering affair with the poet Delmore Schwartz. But Lisa's emergence as a successful novelist, cannibalizing Ruth's own experiences for her subject matter, takes an appalling toll on the artist, as Lisa evolves from protege to friend to peer and ultimately to threatening rival.
Actress Zoë Yeoman will play the part of Ruth Steiner in Collected Stories. Yeoman is a working actor who lives in Los Angles. She appeared as the real estate agent in Canyon Moon's recent production of I Hate Hamlet. Other credits include television’s The Practice, Law and Order: Special Victim’s Unit and The Drew Carey Show.
Collected Stories should appeal to all audiences because its themes cross cultures. Mentors and protégés exist everywhere. Most people, at some point in their lives, have known what it's like to be a student or a teacher, a child or a parent, to have loved someone not their child with the intensity of a parent for a child or vice versa. Most people have felt betrayed or committed betrayal, deliberately or unknowingly.
These are some of the reasons why Guaraldi selected this play. She also feels it will draw audiences because there are so many writers in the Verde Valley.
The play begs the questions, "How much do you have to change a story to make it your own?" she ponders.
After all, the mission of the Splinter Series is to provoke lively discussions among an eclectic group of theatergoers while giving them something to think about.
"People can go out after and have coffee and discuss it. It's theater that stays with you," Guaraldi hopes. "How can we engage young people to think if we don't give them the tools?"
When selecting the upcoming Splinter season, Guaraldi considered several factors: what actors will be available, what subjects interest Sedona, and how the plays differ.
"If we can't get the actors we want, there's no point in doing the show," explains Guaraldi who is committed to presenting high-quality productions featuring top-notch actors.
Last year marked the birth of the Splinter Series, featuring productions such as Art, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead and Nixon's Nixon. According to comment cards, audiences came from Sedona, Cottonwood, Camp Verde and Flagstaff.
"We sold enough tickets to sustain it another year," Guaraldi says.
Although CMTC is a nonprofit professional theater company, it still has to break even, she explains.
"It can't be theater that only 10 people want."
The second play in the Splinter Series is Proof written by David Auburn. This production will run Feb. 12-29.
Proof explores the mysteries of love and mathematics. On the eve of her 25th birthday, Catherine, a young woman who has spent years caring for her brilliant but unstable father, Robert, must deal not only with his death but with the arrival of her estranged sister, Claire. She also must cope with the attentions of Hal, a former student of her father's who hopes to find valuable work in the 103 notebooks that Robert left behind. As Catherine confronts Hal's affections and Claire's plans for her life, she struggles to solve the most perplexing problem of all: How much of her father's madness — or genius — will she inherit?"
The third and final production is In the Valley of the Sun, a new play written by Richard Warren of Phoenix. This will mark the first fully mounted production of the play, Guaraldi says.
Set near Arizona's Superstition Mountains, three best friends test their evolving relationships. Maria leaves her cowboy boyfriend Steel to follow her dream of dancing on Broadway. Years later she returns to find her friend Trudy living with Steel. Tensions mount as surprising revelations and startling requests are made. In the Valley of the Sun will run April 15-May 2.
Daniel Schay will direct two of three Splinter productions, Guaraldi says. Schay was the first executive director of Sedona Cultural Park. Before coming to Sedona, he served as managing director of the Merrimack Repertory Theater in Massachusetts. As a consultant, Schay has worked with dozens of performing arts organizations around the country.
Season tickets for the Splinter Series are $45 per adult and $26 for full-time students. Main and Splinter Series tickets are $95 for adults and $65 for full-time students. Thursday evenings are bargain nights at $13 for adults.
Canyon Moon Theatre is located at the Old Marketplace, 1370 Arizona 89A, beside New Frontiers Natural Foods in West Sedona. To become a subscriber or for more information, call (928) 282-6212 or visit the Web site at http:/www.canyonmoontheatre.org