At the Loblolly Theatre, it’s not just the plays that are suspenseful, but the writing process as well.
Instead of the traditional script-cast-rehearse routine, Loblolly Theatre actually casts the play before it is even written.
“We’re writing for the actors,” explained Yolanda Reed, artistic director and resident playwright at Loblolly Theatre. “The process commands a lot of trust, but it can open a door to an unknown place. It encourages a real ensemble cast. The actors work with each other and grow up with the play.”
As intimidating as it must be for the actors, those who are Loblolly-loyal have become accustomed to the process.
“I can’t imagine it another way,” said Lisa Goodness, who has been with Loblolly Theatre for the past nine years. “I love the way we uncover the play together.”
Even with the script under construction, those who have seen “Big Juice” or “Baby Jackal” will be familiar with some of the characters (at least the ones who survived) and scenery of “Lily’s Lounge.” The play is set in the 1930s. There’s a war, the end of Prohibition and murder to say the least. Like the film noir genre, the play has a dark tone.
“We don’t censor anything,” Reed said. “‘Lily’s Lounge’ is rough, sensuous and mysterious. It involves all the senses.”
Part of the fun in a production like “Lily’s Lounge” is playing the villain. Goodness not only has the best last name for the stage, but she also portrays the brutal Lily so well that she’s played the part in all three productions.
“She’s not a nice person,” Goodness said of Lily. “It’s fun to play the bad guy. When Lily wants something, she gets it using any means possible.”
The rehearsals can be just as riveting as opening night, since the elusive script is never on stage.
“The actors explore each scene and each other,” Reed said. “It’s frustrating and dangerous…it’s kind of awesome.”
“The way we work really makes the characters live more,” Goodness said. “Yolanda has this knack for knowing us and bringing things out in us we didn’t know existed.”
One thing that sets the theatre apart at first glance is its size. Sitting above O’Zone Pizza Pub, Loblolly Theatre only holds 35-50 people.
“The intimate atmosphere makes the audience feel like they’re a part of the play,” Goodness said.
With a smaller theatre, everything else is downscaled. There are only eight lights for the stage, which leaves even less room for props. Since the theatre is in a historic building, nothing can be nailed into the wall. This, of course, is only looked at as an advantage.
“You don’t have to spend a lot of time on scenery,” Reed said. “Part of our philosophy is that small theatre is important, too. The additional things are wonderful and enriching, but our main thing is acting and writing.”
No script, no scenery, no problem. The Loblolly Theatre has big stage presence, even if it doesn’t all fit on stage.
“I go to everything,” Reed said. “I love big theatres and the opera, but I believe in this theatre.”
WHEN: Friday, Feb. 18 through Saturday, April 2
WHERE: Loblolly Theatre, 1010 N. 12th Ave., Suite 211
DETAILS: 439-3010, or loblollytheatre.com