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Summit Spotlight: ‘Benediction’

By John Moore

Set in the high plains of Eastern Colorado, Benediction completes the trilogy of playwright Eric Schmiedl’s stage adaptations of the popular novels by Kent Haruf.

Following Plainsong and Eventide, Benediction introduces audiences to new characters at the crossroads in the fictional town of Holt. Among them are dying old man who dreams of a reconciliation with a son he violently chased out of town more than 30 years before; a young orphan girl who is befriended by an elderly woman and her daughter; and a renegade big-city teacher who has been banished to Holt with his unhappy family.

While playing with the narrative form — Schmiedl largely sets aside the direct-address that marked his first two stage productions — there is something deeply familiar and resonating with the continuation of this Denver Center tradition. Though the characters are knew, the feeling is familiar.

Director Kent Thompson, whose commitment to bringing Haruf’s works to the stage dates back to 2006, describes Benediction as “an Our Town for our times.” 

Here’s our inside look at the making of this epic new work that rounds out the 2014 Colorado New Play Summit.

Featured in this video are Schmiedl and a cast of more than 15, including Mile Hartman, Joyce Cohen, Brian Shea, Lynnda Ferguson, Billie McBride, Tara Falk, Michael Santo and Tricia Moreland.

Favorite line: Lorraine: “You are not afraid … to be alone with him?”

Mary: “Oh, honey. This is my husband. I’ve been with this man most of my life. I know him better than I know anybody else in the world. There’s nothing here to scare me.”

Video by John Moore.

Please enjoy our other 2014 Summit Spotlight videos:

The Comparables

Appoggiatura

Zenith

Victory Jones and the Incredible One Woman Band

Video: Page to the Stage highlights: Mike Hartman and Anthony Powell of “Death of a Salesman”

Page to the Stage moderator John Moore talks with director Anthony Powell and actor Mike Hartman of the Denver Center Theatre Company’s “Death of a Salesman,” playing through Oct. 20, 2013, in the Space Theatre.

Their wide-ranging conversation at the LoDo Tattered Cover Book Store included these brief recorded highlights.

Video podcast: 5 Minutes With … Mike Hartman and Lauren Klein

In this sweet and provocative video conversation with journalist John Moore, the married Denver Center actors who play Willy and Linda Loman in “Death of a Salesman” explain how their budding romance was nearly ended before it began by a broken zipper. They then offer poignant theories as to why Arthur Miller’s classic play still resonates so strongly with so many Americans who have been made to feel obsolete in today’s economy. “It’s a very personal experience that most people don’t want to talk about, but it’s right there in front of you when you watch this play,” says Klein. The play runs through Oct. 20 at the Space Theatre. 303-893-4100 or www.denvercenter.org. Video by John Moore. Special appearance by John Patrick Hayden. Running time: 5 minutes.

Meet the cast video series: Mike Hartman

In this new YouTube series, we briefly introduce you to the actors performing in our plays in a fun way. Episode 14: Mike Hartman, who is getting rave reviews as Willy Loman in the Denver Center Theatre Company’s “Death of a Salesman” through Oct. 20, 2013, in The Space Theatre. Call 303-893-4100 or go to www.denvercenter.org. Video by John Moore. Run time: 2 minutes, 25 seconds.

Coming tomorrow: Cajardo Lindsay of “Just Like Us.”

Previous episodes:

Panel: “Death of a Salesman” is the most important American play ever written

Montage from The Denver Center Theatre Company’s “Death of a Salesman, running throuh Oct. 20. Video by Ken Mostek.

By John Moore

The Denver Center Theatre Company opens its 35th season tonight with its first-ever staging of the most important American play ever written according to a survey of theater experts from around the country.

The Denver Post asked 177 playwrights, directors, actors, professors, critics, agents, producers, bloggers students and theatregoers to rank America’s 10 most important plays. Fittingly, America’s most significant work is often described as Greek in scope and tragedy.

Think of Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” as a working-class “Oedipus Rex.”

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