Stories on Stage: Dear Elizabeth
By Emilee Hatfield
There are times within theatre that can be crafted with pure admiration. Whether it be simplistic or complex, the rawness, the genuine rawness of theatre lingers within even the smallest detail. Once it is seen or felt it cannot be undone. After all that is the job of theatre. To convey stories in ways that sometimes cannot simply be said. They must be felt. This is what I feel Stories on Stage is accomplishing within their current works that are being performed throughout the Denver Metro/Boulder area.
This organization is a non-profit that strives to, “Engage audiences with dynamic and entertaining performances of short works of literature.Through the shared experience of live theater, we strive to inspire empathy and to break down boundaries between cultures and generations.”
When seeing a reading of Dear Elizabeth on a cold Saturday Night at Nomad Playhouse, I believe their mission statement has been met with great success.
Now before going on there is a very sad truth to some works in theatre. They do not always make it to the stage.
Which is sad.
Some great works whether it be in the form of literature, a play or really just a topic of discussion that have not been seen or given the chance to truly shine. They need to be given a voice in a time where others would not allow it. That is what is being done here. Stories on Stage is giving that voice to these works. And in this case, it truly works with the play Dear Elizabeth.
The play is based on the letters between two poets, Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell and their complicated thirty year friendship. The story in itself is so ...interesting. The letters written between both them are intriguing to say the least. And Playwright Sarah Ruhl contributes such raw emotion that allows the audience to feel as if these letters were written not so long ago. Capturing the humanity of each poet with such empathy and compassion that one cannot help but grow fascinated by their words.
What also is wonderful is the two incredible actors Emily Paton Davies and Sam Gregory that never seem to stop. Their work is wonderful, their dedication to the craft is astounding. Even with something as simple as a dramatic reading of this play, there is a rawness of emotion that cannot be taught. Watching as they read the letters of Elizabeth and Robert is a strange mix of both hilarity and tragedy. But...isn't that what life is about?
It is never one or the other.
That is what I feel is so important about what Stories for Stage is doing. They are giving people of the Denver/Boulder area a time to hear works of literature or plays in a way that, while some can think is boring, to others means so much more.
The history of Stories on Stage goes further than just the current productions or the people that it brings in. These unique little productions or reads all began in 2000 with a pilot performance at the Acoma Center in Denver. What came next was the beginning of a foundation that create special shows at the request of citizens on topics of interest to our community. Whether it be something from the literary standpoint such Dear Elizabeth, or the topics that some just wish to explore, such as mental health, history of our nation, or even stories of different cultures. Stories on Stage is providing something that simply cannot be found nor is it something I have really come across in my time spent here in Colorado.
I was fortunate enough to see this wonderful dramatic reading of Dear Elizabeth, which was met with great applause by the audience and the joy of both Davies and Gregory along with myself. After seeing regional production in the area for over three years, I find Stories on Stage have a strong voice within the community, one that is giving individual voices not only to the works of literature that aren’t always put on the stage in the area, but are requests from the people.
They are given a large choice in what they wish to see performed or read on stage which I think is a fabulous and an ambition way to present works and topics into a community.
Truly I will praise Davies and Gregory for days on end, their talent is tremendous and even watching them read from a script is a wonderful night of theatre. But the biggest statement that was made that on October 13th is this corporations dedication not only to the people of the Denver/Boulder area but to the community of theatre that is growing stronger each day within the Rocky Mountains.
Dear Elizabeth sadly was only a two night event, but if you wish to see what future projects that Stories on Stage will be performing or how some of your favorites local actors will be reading some of this great works this season please visit https://www.storiesonstage.org/2018-19-season.html
These are stories you are not want to miss.