Saturday, September 02, 2006

"The Nibroc Trilogy" by Arlene Hutton

Remember Krista Knutsen and Adam Bergquist, and the marvelous work they did for director Angela Konrad in LAST TRAIN TO NIBROC? Colin Thomas wrote (and I paraphrase) "A year ago, they were Pacific Theatre apprentices: this year, they look a lot like stars." And I could only agree.

Turns out that play is only the first installment in a trilogy of plays about those same two characters. Reading about the complete cycle in IMAGE Journal's "Update" email, the gears begin to turn...

Arlene Hutton’s Nibroc Trilogy

Arlene Hutton is a playwright who knows how to leave her characters some breathing room. Author of the acclaimed plays As it is in Heaven and the three installments of the Nibroc Trilogy—Last Train to Nibroc (2000), See Rock City (2005), and Gulf View Drive, premiering next weekend in Los Angeles—Hutton deals in stories that peer into the delicate intertwining of relationships, examining without prying them apart. Her secret? Developing characters who speak for themselves—not as the playwright’s mouthpiece. The result is an entrance into the lives of real people, full-bodied and refreshingly free of caricature.

Audiences will have the unprecedented chance to see all three plays of the Nibroc Trilogy, together for the first time in honor of Gulf View Drive's debut, at the Actor’s Co-op in L.A. on September 8. Nibroc tells the story of Raleigh and May, two young Kentuckians who fumble into love with each other after meeting on a train during WWII, then regroup to face the demons of their times—as well as some of their own.

A seasoned people watcher, Hutton is skilled at observing her characters manage the tectonic shifts of their changing circumstances. Raleigh is forced out of the draft by his epilepsy and restricted from driving, but buoyed by his good nature, is bent on becoming a published writer. May, full of her own grit, trades her dream of mission work for marriage and a rare job as a school principal before losing it when the GIs come home from war. Over the course of the three plays, the young couple find outside demands and their own deepest desires, frustrations, and visions threatening the equilibrium of the marriage—but it’s also the stuff that creates it. In Gulf View Drive, as May and Raleigh face the scars of post-war America, their dialogue finds new rhythms as they search for, in Raleigh’s words, “The chance to do, I don’t know, something, maybe something important. Good.”

The Nibroc Trilogy is a romance and comedy, yes, but it’s also a sharp-eyed look at how a relationship takes root despite odds that feel familiar fifty years later. In the face of the daily threat of estrangement, Hutton reminds us of the possibility of communion.

Arlene Hutton is the Tennessee Williams Fellow in Playwriting for 2005-2006 and Glen Workshop teacher extraordinaire. All three plays of the Nibroc Trilogy will be presented in rotating repertory through Nov. 26. For times and ticket information, call 323.462.8460.

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