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    Event Name: Soft Click of a Switch
    Article: In ‘Soft Click of a Switch,’ stranger danger is real
    The Seattle Times - Sep 27, 2013
    By Misha Bearson

    In ‘Soft Click of a Switch,’ stranger danger is real
    A review of the intense drama “Soft Click of a Switch,” a MAP Theatre staging at West of Lenin through Sept. 28, 2013.

    By Misha Berson
    Seattle Times theater critic
    Expand

    In ‘Soft Click of a Switch,’ stranger danger is real
    A review of the intense drama “Soft Click of a Switch,” a MAP Theatre staging at West of Lenin through Sept. 28, 2013.

    By Misha Berson
    Seattle Times theater critic

    Theater Review
    ‘Soft Click of a Switch’

    By Carter W. Lewis. Through Saturday, a MAP Theatre production at West of Lenin, 203 N. 36th St., Seattle; pay-what-you-can (800-838-3006 or www.brownpapertickets.com).

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    Ever hear the one about the guy who walks into a bar, gets badgered by a weirdly aggressive, trash-talking stranger, and the two wind up building bombs together?

    Maybe not in a play. But during the intense drama “Soft Click of a Switch” at West of Lenin theater, images of real-life domestic terrorism — in Boston, Oklahoma City, Atlanta — do flash through your mind.

    The gripping MAP Theatre version of this obscure yet prescient 1998 one-act by Carter W. Lewis suggests a “Twilight Zone” episode penned by Edward Albee.

    As in Albee’s “The Zoo Story,” two loners — here, boozy office drudge Earl (Mark Fullerton) and sinister, unemployed Ed (Brandon Ryan) — have more in common than you’d think. They strike up an odd alliance over gin and beers in a dreary joint with a berating bartender and muffled oldies booming in the background.

    They play head games, edge in closer and pull back, reveal little (and unreliable) information about themselves.

    Noir-style, their chance meeting is the gateway to an existential vortex.

    With slanted dialogue and an absurdist streak, pretentiousness could be off the charts here. But Lewis’ lean, sardonic script, and director Peggy Gannon’s incisive direction of two razor-sharp actors, keep you off-balance and invested.

    One may appreciate Ed’s rant against the giant Mall of America outside Minneapolis as a bastion of soulless consumerism. Then you think of the recent bloody attack on a Kenyan mall.

    The men's voyeuristic obsession with a housebound pair of neighbors is creepy, but also sad.

    And what triggers the drastic action Ed and Earl eventually take? Surely not religious or political fanaticism. Maybe just a desperate need “to do something” — something that gives meaning to their marginal existence? Discuss.

    “Soft Click of a Switch” cops out a bit at the end, with a Rod Serling-ish touch of sci-fi. But it gets under your skin as a study in American alienation, and a quick plunge into that festering swamp of loneliness and rage that can breed random acts of destruction.

    Fullerton’s disaffected Earl and Ryan’s immature, mercurial Ed are perfectly partnered in the play’s tightrope dance of codependency. And hats off to Shane Regan, for an eerie soundscape that shreds and swells throughout. Collapse

    Event Name: Soft Click of a Switch
    Article: Soft Click of a Switch: The Blowjob American Terrorists
    The Stranger - Sep 25, 2013
    By CHARLES MUDEDE

    On the stage, there are three sets: a bar, an office, and an apartment. The play, Soft Click of a Switch by Carter W. Lewis, opens with light thrown on the bar—the other sets are in the dark. Standard American rock music flows out of a jukebox. A bar… Expand

    On the stage, there are three sets: a bar, an office, and an apartment. The play, Soft Click of a Switch by Carter W. Lewis, opens with light thrown on the bar—the other sets are in the dark. Standard American rock music flows out of a jukebox. A bartender barks at drunks. Two men sit next to each other. Ed (Brandon Ryan) is young; Earl (Mark Fullerton) is in the late part of his middle years. Ed breaks the ice, but Earl does not want the ice to be broken—he wants to be left alone to drink in peace. Ed tries to shock Earl with his big plan to blow up a mall. Eventually, Earl opens up and engages with the young man's dark fantasies. The two get very drunk, and at the end of the night, Ed gives Earl a blowjob. This is how the friendship between two American terrorists begins.

    The play, directed by Peggy Gannon, is short, smart, and economical, and it never loses your attention, though it is about two predictable losers. Earl is a spiritually dead employee of some generic American company. He lives in an RV, his wife dumped him, he always carries a pistol in a lunch bag, he drinks like a fish. Earl has used up his future. Ed, on the other hand, has a future but does not know what to do with it. He is unemployed and spends his free time watching the couple that lives next to him through a secret crack in the wall. These men are dead ends.

    On the night I watched Soft Click, a group of terrorists entered a mall in Nairobi and opened fire on innocent people. Al-Shabaab, an Islamic group that has ties to Al Qaeda and is at war with Kenyan troops in Somalia, claimed responsibility. It's reported that the terrorists did not kill Muslims in the mall. If you had a Muslim-sounding name, or if you knew the name of Muhammad's mother, they allowed you to leave and live. These terrorists were acting with a sense of purpose. The terrorists in Soft Click, however, appear to have no purpose. Indeed, Earl agrees to commit an act of terror with Ed on the condition that it is not politically motivated. This is the key to the play: Earl imagines that an act of terrorism can be apolitical. This is nothing but madness. In the way the terrorists in Kenya operated with the fiction of a God directing and blessing their crime, the terrorists in the play operate with the fiction that their crime can be executed with no political implications or consequences. Collapse

    Event Name: Soft Click of a Switch
    Article: Click bait - Soft Click of a Switch exposes uncomfortable truths about 'ordinary' people
    Seattle Gay News - Sep 21, 2013
    By Miryam Gordon

    SOFT CLICK OF A SWITCH
    MAP THEATRE
    (at West of Lenin)
    Through September 28

    Peggy Gannon and Brandon Ryan, in their initial creation known as Man Alone Productions, now condensed as MAP Theatre, have a particular theatr… Expand

    SOFT CLICK OF A SWITCH
    MAP THEATRE
    (at West of Lenin)
    Through September 28

    Peggy Gannon and Brandon Ryan, in their initial creation known as Man Alone Productions, now condensed as MAP Theatre, have a particular theatrical point of view that is darkly comic and probes parts of the human psyche that we often don't want to know about. They pick scripts they love about flawed and troubled beings and mount them when it becomes possible.

    Soft Click of a Switch by Carter W. Lewis is about two men who have almost lost hope that life will provide anything meaningful for them. When they find each other in a bar, one of the 'soft clicks' in the play happens, and they click with each other. Apart, as director Gannon says, they are 'inert,' but together they literally become explosive.

    Ed (Brandon Ryan) is a borderline psychopath with an unclear method of supporting himself. He has all kinds of inappropriate emotional connections to people who have no connection to him. He 'takes care' of the couple next door 'in his heart' by peering through a crack in the wall, watching their most intimate moments. He longs to make a mark on the world, mostly dreaming of killing someone.

    Earl (Mark Fullerton) is an older man, estranged from his wife, who makes a living in order to drink, he explains. He has pretty much given up any dreams of being anything other than a drunk.

    EVERYDAY TERRORISTS
    As Ryan and Fullerton play these characters, their trajectory toward crossing the line between thinking and doing is never forced. Each step seems reasonable and progressive for two people who literally have nothing better to do. Earl's reticence to help Ed blow something up (they decide to blow up local photo booths) is overcome by his desire to give something to Ed, be needed by Ed.

    While the ending of the play seems more impractical than the rest of the script, the bulk of the short (75-minute) show is a glimpse into ordinary people who, without anyone's help to channel their restless energies toward helping the world, seek to make a noise loud enough to matter somehow.

    With a spare, somewhat (appropriately) ugly, set by Suzi Tucker, the focal point being the wall with the crack in it, and an evocative sound design by Shane Regan of muffled bar music and other people talking, director Peggy Gannon keeps a deliberate pace that builds the incendiary actions. Collapse

    Event Name: Soft Click of a Switch
    Article: MAP Theatre’s Second Production Runs Until September 28th
    The Hedonist - Sep 19, 2013
    By Jacqueline Pruner

    Ah, perspective … it’s as different as the people who hold them. Certain key factors play significant roles. Take age, for example. When young, we all want to “make our mark(s) in this world” … when older – say, middle-aged – some of us “just want to… Expand

    Ah, perspective … it’s as different as the people who hold them. Certain key factors play significant roles. Take age, for example. When young, we all want to “make our mark(s) in this world” … when older – say, middle-aged – some of us “just want to disappear.”
    Enter the play, Soft Click of a Switch – written in 1998 by Carter W. Lewis, a time when the phrase “Domestic Terrorist” had yet to become common. Directed by MAP’s Managing Director Peggy Gannon. Currently running at MAP Theatre (formerly Man Alone Productions) September 13th-28th at West of Lenin in Fremont, Soft Click of a Switch is MAP’s second mainstage show. (It’s first was 3 Screams, which your Hedonista also attended as media and reviewed.)

    Brandon Ryan’s Ed (left) and Mark Fullerton’s Earl (right). Photo by Shane Regan, provided by MAP Theatre and used with permission.
    MAP is a nomadic, non-profit production company that is all about shattering theatre stereotypes and showcasing humanity … and Soft Click of a Switch is full of it. The young Ed (played by Brandon Ryan, MAP’s Founder/Artistic Director, 3 Screams) and middle-aged Earl (played by Mark Fullerton) discover a symbiotic relationship. Two lonely men – lonely for very different reasons – become friends. More than friends … almost family. Two individuals desperate to love and be loved. To feel positive emotions. To matter. Pay attention and empathy for Ed and Earl abounds, for these two are disappointed, disenfranchised, disaffected, and disillusioned.
    And frequently dissed, I imagine.
    The result of this coupling? KABOOM.
    This play does more than intimately explain how people unravel. (And the actors unravel soooo well.) The audience ends up feeling for these characters. Like them. Love them, even. Or be disturbed by them. Whatever the reaction, the feelings are … powerful. Visceral. Real.
    In sum, regardless of their poor judgment and tragic choice to use destruction and potential violence to feel … something, at least they end up feeling something.
    And the ending is a tad … out there. But even that is significant.
    Don’t judge (at least, initially), just watch.
    For it all depends on one’s perspective, dear hedonists.
    All tickets for Soft Click of a Switch are Pay-What-You-Can (PWYC). Advance sales are available through Brown Paper Tickets or call 1-800-838-3006. No service fees for advanced online purchases of MAP Theatre productions will be passed on to patrons. Find MAP on Facebook, Attendible, YouTube, Storify. Its Twitter handle is @MAP_Theatre.
    Note: In order to comply with FTC Act 16 C.F.R. 255, Heed the Hedonist would like to disclose that it does receive media “comps” and/or media discounts – but not in exchange for favorable coverage, or for withholding unfavorable coverage, of the given venue/meal/performance/product/service. Collapse

    Event Name: Soft Click of a Switch
    Article: Bad Romance
    VenetianBlond - Sep 17, 2013
    By Machalle Allman

    We have gotten to love our anti-heroes in entertainment. From Michael Corleone to Walter White, these titans of their respective industries seem determined to test our boundaries--to see how far they can go before we stop rooting for them. At the s… Expand

    We have gotten to love our anti-heroes in entertainment. From Michael Corleone to Walter White, these titans of their respective industries seem determined to test our boundaries--to see how far they can go before we stop rooting for them. At the same time our constant media access bombards us with the latest random violence endemic to this country as we doff our shoes to board a plane. We're fascinated, we loathe it, and we're inured to it all at the same time. Carter W. Lewis tackled all this even before the phenomenon of Twitter being our breaking news source with his script for "Soft Click of a Switch." But as Michael and Walter would agree, the key really is family-or at the very least those entangled together with love, loyalty, and truth.



    Ed and Earl are not the brilliant heads of crime syndicates, nor are they even everymen. They are losers, flotsam washing up to the bar on waves of gin and beer. When they meet, they just barely get past their prickly exteriors to have some semblance of a conversation. Starting a play with riffs on "I don't want to talk to you, get to know you, or otherwise engage with you" is a gutsy move, but Lewis pulls it off because it informs the context of where these two men have come from psychologically and where they are headed in their folie a' deux.

    Ultimately, they end up building bombs out of air conditioner parts and blowing up free standing fotomats (the only detail that dates the play-otherwise it could be almost timeless) just to do something important. The fact is, the bombings are nearly irrelevant--they could be read as a twisted take on the classic sports story. Our anti-heroes find they are stronger together as a team and they achieve the impossible. It's just that instead of using ice skates they use their own overdue-at-the-library Anarchists' Cookbook.

    They could both be completely nuts, completely sane, or somewhere in between. But certainly their uneasy camaraderie is the true focus of the play. They are both so needy you want to give them hugs--except for those prickly exteriors and the loose grips on reality. It's the acting that gets at the vulnerability behind the lunacy. Both Brandon Ryan as Ed and Mark Fullerton as Earl embody the pain that has driven them to the point of no return. They also uncover the desperate need to connect with somebody for fear of flying completely off the rails. Ryan typically has an easy way about his performances that belies the level of difficulty in the roles he chooses, and here he turns in similarly intriguing work with Ed. We root for both of these losers despite ourselves, because they are humane in their own very specific ways.

    Director Peggy Gannon does a fantastic balancing act with the show's tone--neither bedlam-crazy nor morose, neither stodgy nor flippant, and each choice serves the story. There are a number of pitfalls with a script like this and she deftly avoids each one. In lesser hands, the relationship between the two men could easily fall into stereotype, but she keeps the complexity rich and fully formed. The conversations, reluctant opening up, the squabbles, it's all so strangely normal. This play is also really funny, and the direction doesn't shy away from that, but rather embraces it.

    MAP Theatre's last production, "3 Screams", was about a family at a 45 degree angle from the world, and this is another unique and challenging work. It touches on questions of relationship, identity, fear, and apathy. It's a great asset to Seattle theater to have MAP searching for these under-recognized scripts to bring to light, because in their hands, it's not homework, it's a triumph.

    At West of Lenin through Sept. 28. Tickets through Brown Paper Tickets. All performances are Pay What You Can, so go see it! Collapse

    Event Name: Soft Click of a Switch
    Article: “Soft Click of a Switch” Presented by MAP Theatre
    Arts Stage - Sep 16, 2013
    By Nancy Worssam

    You’ve encountered the loners, the outsiders, the disaffected, those whom society pushes to the margins. “Soft Click of a Switch” offers a window into the lives of two of those misfits. We’d normally ignore or steer clear of Ed and Earl, but here, un… Expand

    You’ve encountered the loners, the outsiders, the disaffected, those whom society pushes to the margins. “Soft Click of a Switch” offers a window into the lives of two of those misfits. We’d normally ignore or steer clear of Ed and Earl, but here, under Peggy Gannon’s deft direction, we are touched by their hesitant and difficult friendship and even develop compassion for them as we watch them slip into criminal behavior.
    Ed (Brandon Ryan), single, seemingly unemployed, is obsessed with doing something big. His chief interest in life is spying on his next-door neighbors, but if only he could blow something up; man what a high that would be. That would make him more than a cipher. Earl (Mark Fullerton) is a loner. Maybe married, maybe not any more, living in a new city, tied to a desk and a job that doesn’t excite him, he drinks, drinks to blot out reality.
    As Earl sits drinking himself to oblivion at a bar, the intrusive Ed won’t leave him alone. Despite his efforts to rebuff Ed, Earl is drawn like a fly to the spider, not to be eaten but to be a conspirator. Alone they are nothing, together they are dynamite—literally and figuratively.
    The two actors play their roles with just the right push/pull, sanity and madness, hope and depression. They are perfectly cast to play off each other, and they do it so very well. The power of friendship! Alone neither man could move beyond inertia. Together they are explosive. It’s rather frightening.
    Playwright Carter W. Lewis has captured here something quite moving, even funny at times, and indeed pertinent, but he attempts a bit too much. The plot is overloaded and plays out over too long a period. The play would have been better 15 minutes shorter. Despite that, it’s theatre that you won’t easily forget.
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    Event Name: Soft Click of a Switch
    Article: How to Build Bombs and Influence People
    Drama in the Hood - Sep 15, 2013
    By Maria Bonfills

    How to Build Bombs and Influence People



    Is actually the subtitle of the play Soft Click of a Switch; however, that title is somewhat misleading. Although building and detonating bombs does come into it, the play is actua… Expand

    How to Build Bombs and Influence People



    Is actually the subtitle of the play Soft Click of a Switch; however, that title is somewhat misleading. Although building and detonating bombs does come into it, the play is actually about how alienated ineffectual males turn to violent destruction to regain a sense of purpose, albeit skewered, and feel that they have a place in the world. Along the way, the audience is entertained by some very dark humor which gets to the core of the human condition.

    Two strangers, who judging by outward appearances-age, occupation, dress and marital status-seem unlikely to ever become friends, are drawn together by their mutual alienation and engage in some funny, tragic, absurd, focused, rambling, profound, trivial and revealing conversations, which were delivered with amazing wit and superb comic timing. Played brilliantly by Brandon Ryan, Ed is a young 20 something, seemingly unemployed, who when not drinking and philosophizing about life and art, spends most of his time standing on a chair in his apartment looking through a peep-hole not only observing a couple in the next apartment, but deeply involved in his fantasy about their lives. Played by Mark Fullerton, Earl, who looks like a straight-laced corporate man, has an even darker side and seems more alcoholic.

    Although the plot rambled, the tour de force acting, writing and directing ( by Peggy Gannon) mostly kept my attention. Ninety minutes is rather too long for a two person play and in the middle the energy of the actors lagged; however, while when they were on, they were ON and the evening was full of surprises, delight and powerful insights into life and terrorism. Very few actors or directors would have been able to bring this difficult play to life, it is well worth seeing.



    NB. Something else is well worth seeing is the artwork displayed at West of Lenin, in the Lobby. I’m not qualified to review visual art, but it makes the pre-show wait very pleasant.



    SOFT CLICK OF A SWITCH by Carter W. Lewis. MAP Theatre West of Lenin, 203 N. 36th St. Fremont. Thurs, Fri, Sat 8 PM. Pay-what you can www.brownpapertickets.com www.facebook.com/MAPtheatre Through Sept. 28th Collapse

    Event Name: Soft Click of a Switch
    Article: MAP Theatre's SOFT CLICK OF A SWITCH Brims With a Likable Creepiness
    Broadway World - Sep 14, 2013
    By Jay Irwin

    We've all had those fleeting thoughts in our heads every now and again of doing something completely outrageous like blowing something up or offing someone just because we don't like their face. We have right? No? Just me? Uh oh. Well anyway, MAP The… Expand

    We've all had those fleeting thoughts in our heads every now and again of doing something completely outrageous like blowing something up or offing someone just because we don't like their face. We have right? No? Just me? Uh oh. Well anyway, MAP Theatre's latest offering of Carter W. Lewis' "Soft Click of a Switch" explores what happens when two loners give in to those impulses. The result is a darkly comic and fascinating look inside the minds of volatile yet sympathetic characters.

    What starts off as a chance encounter in a bar soon develops into a dangerous bromance between Ed and Earl (Brandon Ryan and Mark Fullerton); two broken men who just want to feel something. Earl has a failed marriage and a gun in a bag and spends his time drinking to dull the pain. Ed is a slightly imbalanced dreamer who strives to be meaningful. And the two of them concoct a plan to create homemade bombs out of air conditioning parts and wage a war on empty parking lot photo kiosks in the night.

    But even as these crimes are the focal point of the story, they only serve as a secondary element to the relationship between these two men. And what Lewis and director Peggy Gannon have brilliantly done is to take these damaged, slightly psychotic men and create anti-heroes out of them as we find ourselves hoping they succeed. Sure they're imbalanced and creepy but at the same time they're likable as we get a look into their vulnerabilities and show off the relationship of two men who truly need each other.

    Fullerton delivers a quiet angst throughout the show with a wonderful kind of understated need. And this is the perfect counterpart to the manic, unbalanced nature put forth by Ryan. The two play off each other perfectly as a kind of sociopathic Abbott and Costello and deliver some incredibly meaty and engaging performances. And the thing I love about Ryan's performance is that even though he's portraying this in your face kind of madman, the performance is kind of effortless and never forced.

    The ending of the piece may be up to interpretation (it's definitely a thinker), but what's not puzzling is that this is a stellar piece put forth by some very talented individuals who know what good storytelling is all about. And even though the subject matter may be dark and morose, you're bound to walk out with a smile as the evening is definitely a thrill ride of fun. I mean, who doesn't love exploding photo kiosks? What? Just me again? Crap!

    MAP Theatre's "Soft Click of a Switch" performs at West of Lenin through September 28th. All tickets for "Soft Click of a Switch" are Pay-What-You-Can. More information and advance sales available through Brown Paper Tickets: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/427268 or call 1-800-838-3006.
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    Event Name: Soft Click of a Switch
    Article: Soft Click of a Switch
    Seattle Actor - Sep 14, 2013
    By Jerry Kraft

    "Soft Click of a Switch" by Carter W. Lewis is a play about two apparently simple guys, Ed and Earl, and the ways in which their unlikely friendship leads them into dangerous and unexpected places. It is anything but a simple play. It begin… Expand

    "Soft Click of a Switch" by Carter W. Lewis is a play about two apparently simple guys, Ed and Earl, and the ways in which their unlikely friendship leads them into dangerous and unexpected places. It is anything but a simple play. It begins with their chance meeting in a bar where Ed (Brandon Ryan) wants to make some sort of casual connection with Earl (Mark Fullerton) who wants to make no connection with anyone other than his bottomless glass of gin. Ed is not the sort to simply wander away from Earl's cold shoulder, and soon the two find themselves sharing much more about their lives than either expected.

    Although the big event in this play is the pair's construction and detonation of a homemade bomb, constructed from air conditioner parts, that is not what the show is about. It is about identity and connection with others, and while neither man is especially intelligent or insightful, both are unafraid of walking their darkest self-truths into the light of day. The sophistication of the writing is in the normalcy, the inarticulately common language which, because it is genuine and urgent, can lead them to truths about themselves which neither expected to find, or even knew they were looking for. Although some of the metaphor becomes a bit heavy-handed (a crack in the wall through which Ed can observe other lives) at the core of this funny drama is real need and a real pursuit of authenticity. It's a fast-paced 75 minutes, but it packs a lot of insight into these two lives, and leaves us feeling both sympathetic for their many conflicts and with a certain begrudging admiration for their sincerity and painfully revealed experience.

    Director Peggy Gannon has an admirably light touch which makes even the most exaggerated comic action feel unforced, and she has a remarkable sense of how guys communicate, especially when they don't communicate well. Both Ed and Earl are consistent and vivid, smartly controlling the pools of their inner worlds so that only small trickles emerge at any given time, making the final depth of our understanding of these two all the more satisfying.

    Brandon Ryan portrayed Ed as the classic misfit, a boy-man who wants the world to recognize him for something, even if it's something bad. The best thing about this characterization was that he never made Ed too crazy, never stable but never out of control, either. This was one of those roles that you're not going to get in the first few minutes of the play, or ever if you're not paying close attention. Ed is a guy who is always overlooked, especially by those who don't realize that he is always looking at them. He wants to do something big, but not so he can be famous, just so that he can have some affirmation that he exists, that he has done something. Ryan was funny, quirky, sincere and doubting, needy but alienated, distrusting love to the same extent that he desperately wants it, that weird guy you hope won't sit next to you on the bus.

    The much more established Earl, an anonymous low-level businessman, sees nothing more interesting in his future than a new glass of booze to eliminate the memory of the one he's just emptied. Mark Fullerton was perfectly cast in this role, his slim, haggard build and expression just right for this hollow man. What I liked best about Fullerton's performance was the way he established that nobody gets close to this guy, and as long as Ed understands that, they can be close. This was a life filled with heartache and disappointment, with forgotten hopes and timid dreams. Still, this was never a guy who wanted anyone to feel sorry for him; it's just the way life is, what can you expect? Both actors were remarkably successful in making this most unlikely alliance feel inevitable.

    "Soft Click of a Switch" is just the sort of show MAP Theatre should be doing, with its complex theatricality, obscure but familiar characters and unusual dramatic structure. For a show where so much depends on the acting, we never had the feeling that either of these actors were working too hard. Handsomely staged at the West of Lenin theatre, this small-scale production is quite a substantial achievement. Collapse

    Event Name: Soft Click of a Switch
    Article: INSIDE MAP’S SOFT CLICK OF A SWITCH: ALONE TOGETHER THROUGH THICK AND THIN
    The Seattle Star - Sep 11, 2013
    By Jose Amador

    Meet Peggy Gannon and Brandon Ryan, together they are the driving force behind MAP Theater (formerly Man Alone Productions). MAP is one of a growing number of Seattle theater companies that operate without a permanent brick-and-mortar home. In the on… Expand

    Meet Peggy Gannon and Brandon Ryan, together they are the driving force behind MAP Theater (formerly Man Alone Productions). MAP is one of a growing number of Seattle theater companies that operate without a permanent brick-and-mortar home. In the ongoing shortage of rentable traditional venues in Seattle’s downtown corridor for theater companies to produce in, this is an endeavor that’s becoming more difficult to achieve. Just three years ago, there were as many as eight rentable spaces on Capitol Hill (nine if you expand the Hill to include Rebar) — that number will soon be down to six. While the loss of two spaces seems negligible, the impact of that loss becomes more apparent when one considers that, with the exception of Hugo House, each of those spaces is tethered to its own theater company with its own production schedule.

    What this means for “gypsy” companies like MAP is simply that they have to be very judicious about what projects they get to produce and how they go about doing it. The story around their latest production, Carter W. Lewis’ Soft Click of a Switch, which opens this Friday at the West of Lenin, is somewhat indicative of the process for many companies, filled with lofty ideals, high expectations and pitfalls aplenty. As part of their dedication to “to the openness and transparency of the creative process,” as posited in their mission statement, Gannon and Ryan asked the Star to follow their progress and write about it as Soft Click made its way to opening night. In the spring of 2012.

    For those noticing that it is now almost eighteen months later, it should be pointed out that at the time they approached us, things were progressing nicely for them. But we get a little ahead of ourselves.

    Initially, MAP was simply a means for Ryan to produce plays he was interested in. “It started as many do: I was tired of waiting for certain roles to pop up,” Ryan recalls. “It started from a selfish actor’s place in wanting to be able to work on certain things, but it became bigger in scope. It became bigger when I realized that there are more elements to the whole production process. It became about the work and what I wanted to share with an audience.” It was strictly a one-man operation at the beginning, so the name Man Alone Productions seemed to fit. With this goal in mind, Ryan set about finding a script and a team with which to bring that script to life.

    That play ended up being Vincent Delaney’s 3 Screams, which explored the lives of an artist-cum-art-thief flustered and fixated on Edward Munch’s The Scream, the thief’s wife and their son. “I had the script for a few years, but it didn’t seem to resonate until I picked it up again randomly,” Ryan recalls. “Which happened to coincide with my meeting of Peggy.” The production was an artistic success, and ended up being award nominated for its production elements.

    Among the many notable things about the production, MAP’s approach to the evening, which could be described as holistic, stood out. Along with the traditional comprehensive notes in the program, and the scheduling of talk back sessions with experts and members of the cast and production team, MAP commissioned visual artists to create pieces inspired by Munch’s work; the submitted works were prominently displayed in the lobby of Theater Off Jackson. As noted in your correspondent’s review of the production, the end result was a play that talks about art and its impact surrounded by art that was inspired by the work the play is talking about. A nifty and engaging enterprise.

    Following this success, Ryan and Gannon (who was in the midst of taking a break from theatrical endeavors at the time she met Ryan) decided to join forces; but instead of diving headlong into the next production, as is the typical company’s wont, they took their time in choosing their next play. They filled their time and war-chest by producing one night events like trivia and game nights, which Ryan began doing as a means to raise funds for MAP productions. Events like Jenga Night became really popular with the theater scene, and the Trivia Nights — each centering around a pop culture phenomenon like Back to the Future, Community and Arrested Development — became popular with trivia enthusiasts outside of the theater community, moving from small houses like Theater Schmeater to regularly selling out the Central Cinema in the process.


    Brendan Ryan and Mark Fullerton are Ed and Earl in MAP’s production of SOFT CLICK OF A SWITCH. Image by Shane Regan.
    By the beginning of 2012, they had decided on a play to produce: Soft Click of a Switch, an intimate two-character play about a couple of disaffected men who resort to petty acts of terrorism in their search for…something. [To learn more about the play, you may want to listen to MAP's podcast discussing the work, which could be found here. --ed.] Ryan would take on one of the parts, while Gannon decided to direct, and so they held a round of auditions to find the actor for the other role. They found their man in Mark Fullerton, someone who could believably fit the role of mentor to someone like Ryan. As a local director, actor and writer, as well as a co-founder of Seattle Public Theater, and being instrumental in a large number of Seattle theatrical institutions, Fullerton brought a ton of experience and talent to the table.

    And then he became injured for reasons still unknown to him. He became unable to move without pain. After several rounds of going to medical professionals holding their first rehearsal with Fullerton laying on his back for the majority of it, Gannon and Ryan had to decide what to do with the production. They could say goodbye to Fullerton, go through a quick re-casting process, and proceed to the scheduled opening, or they could postpone. They chose to postpone.

    “It just seemed like unnecessary stress,” Gannon said, “plus what would rushing through all of those decisions at the last minute do to the production? Besides, Mark was too perfect for Earl.”

    “Once we considered all of that,” Ryan adds, “the decision [to postpone] was easy.”

    Fortunately, boom! Theater, the rental venue they were going to perform in, was understanding and allowed them to reschedule the production to the beginning on 2013. The company then went about waiting, holding more fundraising trivia nights, while Fullerton fully recuperated. Then the next shoe dropped: just as they were about to begin rehearsals again, MAP received a phone call informing them that boom! was losing their space and couldn’t host MAP’s production anymore.

    By this time, Gannon and Ryan were accustomed to setbacks, and after getting their funds back from boom! and making sure Fullerton would wait, they began the process of searching for another venue, again deciding not to rush into any foolish decisions. Eventually, they saw a notice announcing an impending deadline for applications at Fremont’s West of Lenin, filled out the necessary paperwork and took a chance on being accepted.

    For once, things went their way. “Less than a month later, we found out we got the space,” Gannon said. “It wasn’t what we were initially planning…with the boom! space we were kind of looking forward to being in their funky little space with our weird and uncomfortable little play. West of Lenin is a bigger space, with a more traditional layout — we had to change our entire approach.

    “But we couldn’t be more excited, it’s a great space, AJ Epstein [West of Lenin's proprietor] is enthusiastic, and we’re happy we stuck with this cast. I may have been annoyed and flustered by all of the delays, but this is the way it was meant to work out.”

    In the next installment, the MAP team finally begins rehearsals in earnest. Collapse

    Event Name: Game Show
    Article: Game Show’ lets the audience play along
    The Seattle Times - Aug 02, 2013
    By Tom Keogh

    In a mischievous, clever play called “Game Show,” the greatest irony is the way a theater audience instantly conforms to the dynamics of a familiar television staple: the multi-contestant game show.

    Entering Theater Schmeater’s boxy spac… Expand

    In a mischievous, clever play called “Game Show,” the greatest irony is the way a theater audience instantly conforms to the dynamics of a familiar television staple: the multi-contestant game show.

    Entering Theater Schmeater’s boxy space (the company is moving after this production), it’s easy to believe you’ve entered a small studio.

    Working cameras are feeding signals into a booth, where a director chooses what to relay to monitors. Applause signs flash, assistants rush about or whisper at the coffee table, an amiable comic (Thomas Maier) warms up the crowd and a no-nonsense producer (Danielle Daggerty) glides through it all like a shark.

    Enter slick host Troy Richards (Brandon Felker) to charm and flirt and joke, and it’s easy to get caught up in the illusion of an actual TV broadcast. (It doesn’t hurt that Troy hands out real prizes to the audience for correctly answering t Collapse

    Event Name: Game Show
    Article: Theater Schmeater Leaves ‘em Laughing
    Drama in the Hood - Jul 26, 2013
    By Alan

    After 21 years at their Summit Ave location on Capitol Hill, Theater Schmeater is relocating. They’re leaving their old grounds with the farcical Game Show, a satiric spoof on the popular television quiz shows of the late 20th century.

    Expand

    After 21 years at their Summit Ave location on Capitol Hill, Theater Schmeater is relocating. They’re leaving their old grounds with the farcical Game Show, a satiric spoof on the popular television quiz shows of the late 20th century.

    Half the fun here is in the set up. The cast is really able to capture the excitement of a live television broadcast and has us all believing we may have a chance to win some fabulous prizes! Thomas Maier is particularly effective as the “Warm-up Man”, encouraging the audience to prepare for all the thrills that are sure to come being in on a real live television show.

    An interesting effect for me was the innate desire I had Collapse

    Event Name: Game Show
    Article: GAME SHOW at Theater Schmeater Brings Interactive Laughs Read more about BWW Reviews: GAME SHOW at Theater Schmeater Brings Interactive Laughs by se
    Broadway World - Jul 22, 2013
    By Jay Irwin

    You know how you've always said, "I could've gotten that one" when watching those games shows on TV? Well, now's your time to put up or shut up as Theater Schmeater gives you a chance to immerse yourself into the inner workings of a TV quiz… Expand

    You know how you've always said, "I could've gotten that one" when watching those games shows on TV? Well, now's your time to put up or shut up as Theater Schmeater gives you a chance to immerse yourself into the inner workings of a TV quiz show complete with all the drama, backstabbing and, yes, prizes for a lucky few who can ring in with the correct answer before time runs out. The script may be a bit thin and predictable (although there were a few surprises I didn't see coming) but the antics of the cast and the interactivity with playing the game makes up for it and amounts to a good time.

    In the world of "Game Show" our host, Troy Richards (Brandon Felker), keeps the questions and intrigue flying especially now that his contract is up and he's poised to renegotiate for more money and perks or he'll walk. Scheming Producer Ellen (Danielle Daggerty) has plans of her own that may or may not include Troy. And the rest of the crew, both veterans and newbies, are just trying to keep out of the line of fire and put on the best "Game Show" they can. Oh and yes, there's an actual "Game Show" happening during all this in which the audience can put their thinking caps on and win some highly coveted prizes.


    Read more about BWW Reviews: GAME SHOW at Theater Schmeater Brings Interactive Laughs by seattle.broadwayworld.com Collapse

    Event Name: The Twilight Zone: Live
    Article: TWILIGHT ZONE: LIVE! Offers Up The Creepy Mixed With The Sweet
    Broadway World - May 18, 2013
    By Jay Irwin

    Theatrically speaking, there are few things in this town that are a sure lock of enjoyment. Anything from New Century? Sure. Putting Bobbi Kotula on stage? Hell yes. And any of the "Twilight Zone: Live!" productions from Theater Schmeater?… Expand

    Theatrically speaking, there are few things in this town that are a sure lock of enjoyment. Anything from New Century? Sure. Putting Bobbi Kotula on stage? Hell yes. And any of the "Twilight Zone: Live!" productions from Theater Schmeater? Damn Skippy! The tall, dark and brooding master of the bizarre, Rod Serling is back to take us into another dimension. A dimension of sight, a dimension of sound and a dimension of a kick ass night of eerie 60's fun that definitely qualifies as one of those sure locks I spoke of.

    And for our consideration we have three classics. But then, aren't they all? In, "I shot an Arrow Into the Air" we take a trip with an early manned space mission that goes awry and strands its crew on a deserted planet with no hope of rescue. "It's a Good Life" shows us the blissful yet forced world created by the mind of young Anthony who just might wish you into the cornfield if you upset him. And to balance the macabre with the charming, "The Night of the Meek" offers up a drunken department store Santa given the chance to be the real thing.

    The shows often focus on one main actor being the focal point of the evening and this time they picked Corey McDaniel. Not only does he have an effortless kind of delivery but he manages that 60's Zone style perfectly. Whether he's barking out orders, placating a demonic son or teaching us the true meaning of Christmas he engages like no other but plays it all quite close to the vest which makes it all the more intense when he does let go. Beyond McDaniel, director Tim Moore (who also plays Rod Serling to a scary T) always manages to


    Read more about BWW Reviews: Schmeater's TWILIGHT ZONE: LIVE! Offers Up The Creepy Mixed With The Sweet by seattle.broadwayworld.com Collapse

    Event Name: The Gingerbread House
    Article: The Gingerbread House
    Drama in the Hood - Apr 29, 2013
    By Scott Taylor

    Theater Schmeater has got a knock-out production on its hands with “The Gingerbread House,” written by Mark Schultz and directed by Julia Griffin.

    The play tells the story of “Stacey” and “Brian,” played respectively by Sara Coates and T… Expand

    Theater Schmeater has got a knock-out production on its hands with “The Gingerbread House,” written by Mark Schultz and directed by Julia Griffin.

    The play tells the story of “Stacey” and “Brian,” played respectively by Sara Coates and Tom Dewey, an all-American couple who decide to sacrifice everything, including their children, in order to achieve the elusive American dream: expensive cars, a fancy high rise penthouse in the city, an express ride up the corporate ladder, and exclusive membership into “The Club,” where they can hobnob and rub elbows with the crème de la crème of corporate execs.

    The creative set design by Michael Mowery is composed of numerous screens on which video and animation are projected depicting primarily scenes of B Collapse

    Event Name: The Gingerbread House
    Article: Just desserts - The Gingerbread House is a spicy, if insubstantial, dark comedy
    Seattle Gay News - Apr 19, 2013
    By Miryam Gordon

    It's a comedy about two selfish parents who sell their children. At least the first act of The Gingerbread House at Theater Schmeater is somewhat comedic and tongue-in-cheek. But it darkens as it goes along.

    A capable cast, directed by J… Expand

    It's a comedy about two selfish parents who sell their children. At least the first act of The Gingerbread House at Theater Schmeater is somewhat comedic and tongue-in-cheek. But it darkens as it goes along.

    A capable cast, directed by Julia Griffin, takes on this uneven script by Mark Schultz and perhaps makes it better than it was written. Sara Coates and Tom Dewey are a striving duo - Stacey and Brian - who have gotten into a rut. Brian has decided that their kids are holding them back from all they looked forward to in the past and all they want in the future.

    He has been lured into this kind of thinking by a co-worker, Marco, with a mysterious power of persuasion, played by Daniel Christensen. At the end of the play, Marco seems revealed as an embodiment of the witch in the woods who lures Hansel and Gretel into the gingerbread house with the intent to kill and eat them.

    YUPPIE WANNABES
    Schultz's play is broad strokes: Brian clearly wants things - expensive toys, a beautiful high-rise apartment, membership in the 'club.' And the second act displays those things as hollow and not providing the Collapse

    Event Name: The Gingerbread House
    Article: The Gingerbread House
    Seattle Actor - Apr 02, 2013
    By Jerry Kraft

    The current production of Mark Schultz’s “The Gingerbread House” at Theater Schmeater is the darkest, most twisted play I’ve seen in some time. It is not, however, cynical, nihilistic or existential, but rather an intense, sobering and terrifying exp… Expand

    The current production of Mark Schultz’s “The Gingerbread House” at Theater Schmeater is the darkest, most twisted play I’ve seen in some time. It is not, however, cynical, nihilistic or existential, but rather an intense, sobering and terrifying experience of the consequences of thinking that personal choice is “no big deal” and then discovering that it is both a big deal and utterly life destroying. Julia Griffin directs an intimate, committed cast to a performance that is gripping to the point where at times it feels like it has you by the throat, and still manages to make these people feel like people we know, or even perhaps people whom we sometimes are.

    The play opens in an ordinary home cluttered with the scattered debris of Collapse

    Event Name: The Gingerbread House
    Article: Theater Schmeater's THE GINGERBREAD HOUSE Shines with Dark Intensity Read more about BWW Reviews: Theater Schmeater's THE GINGERBREAD HOUSE Shines w
    Broadway World - Mar 24, 2013
    By Jay Irwin

    To say that the current production from Theater Schmeater, "The Gingerbread House" by Mark Schultz, is intense is somewhat of an understatement. In fact this modern day fable doesn't just tell its story so much as it beats you over the head… Expand

    To say that the current production from Theater Schmeater, "The Gingerbread House" by Mark Schultz, is intense is somewhat of an understatement. In fact this modern day fable doesn't just tell its story so much as it beats you over the head with it. A little long winded at times, this gripping tale will leave you shaken to say the least. In fact I think as I was leaving I said to my theater companion, "I'm a little messed up after that", although I used a more colorful epithet.

    Schultz takes an absurdist modern day twist to the familiar tale of "Hansel and Gretel" as we enter the world of Brian and Stacey (Tom Dewey and Sara Coates), a suburban middle class couple with an unusual opportunity. Brian's friend Marco (Daniel Christensen) works with people in Eastern Europe willing to buy Brian and Stacey's two young children. What will happen to them once they reach their new home in Albania is debatable. Maybe they'll be making sweaters, maybe they'll be living in the lap of luxury or maybe something unspeakable may befal


    Read more about BWW Reviews: Theater Schmeater's THE GINGERBREAD HOUSE Shines with Dark Intensity by seattle.broadwayworld.com Collapse

    Event Name: The Hen Night Epiphany
    Article: Social justice for women fuels Arouet’s latest
    Examiner.com - Mar 23, 2013
    By Rosemary Jones

    Seattle-based Arouet bills themselves as a company inspired by the work and passion of Voltaire. Productions are created not just to entertain but also inform the audience and perhaps even inspire some action on their part. Expand

    Seattle-based Arouet bills themselves as a company inspired by the work and passion of Voltaire. Productions are created not just to entertain but also inform the audience and perhaps even inspire some action on their part. Collapse

    Event Name: The Hen Night Epiphany
    Article: Review: “The Hen Night Epiphany”
    My Edmonds News - Mar 23, 2013
    By Janette Turner

    “It’s my hen night and we have the small matter of a hangover to prepare.” With that, Una (Colleen Carey) and her Dublin girlfriends, Kelly (Kelly Johnson) and Triona (Ellen Dessleer), mix up Bitch Whiskeys out of Jack Daniels, Kahlua, and full-fat m… Expand

    “It’s my hen night and we have the small matter of a hangover to prepare.” With that, Una (Colleen Carey) and her Dublin girlfriends, Kelly (Kelly Johnson) and Triona (Ellen Dessleer), mix up Bitch Whiskeys out of Jack Daniels, Kahlua, and full-fat milk – a combination as lethal as inviting your future mother-in-law to your hen night, otherwise known as a bachelorette party. Collapse

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