Derek Ahonen’s “The Transcendents” opens at Woolfe Street Playhouse tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. Here are 8 reasons you need to be there!
1. The word "transcendent" has power to it. It carries a lot of weight. It's the kind of word that makes you feel like you’re really part of the universe. Like "ethereal" or "seraphic." Good words.
2. Rock ’n’ Roll, man. In the show, The Transcendents is actually the name of an L.A. rock band that mysteriously disappeared after producing some truly incredible music. Everybody has a favorite band. A band that writes music that makes you feel like they know you, or that you’re not alone. I wouldn’t be OK if Paul Simon just disappeared, ya dig?
3. Setting: This play was written in Charleston and has been in development since its first reading this past February (which I was lucky enough to be a part of). Playwright Derek Ahonen has worked intimately with director Keely Enright and the cast on bringing this brand new work to life.
4. Derek Ahonen: This dude is intense. He is a New York-based playwright and first came down to Charleston last summer for the production of his play “Happy In the Poorhouse” (which I was also lucky enough to be a part of). Local actor Patrick Arnheim had seen the original production in New York and fell in love; he was integral in bringing Ahonen to Charleston. Arnheim says, “I love Derek’s plays because I get to work out my many complexes, which is always a HOOT. It’s exciting to have him here because this town can always use fresh blood! Fresh…like Kool and the Gang.”
5. They’re all in this together: This show, as well as “Poorhouse,” is ensemble driven. Keely Enright explains, “[This] is a smaller cast than Poorhouse and the story is so much more personal for each character. The fun in Poorhouse was the chaos and the mayhem. With 'The Transcendents', it is the deeply personal moments and the silences between those moments that say the most about these character's experiences."
6. The actors: Patrick Arnheim, Keely Enright, Dave Reinwald, Sierra Garland, Keanu Thompson, and Michael David Wilson. These guys have all worked together before—Michael David Wilson and Keanu Thompson both appeared in PURE Theatre’s “Folly Beach” last summer, and Patrick Arnheim, Dave Reinwald, and Sierra Garland were in “Happy In the Poorhouse” which was directed by Enright. She says, “The actors have been tremendous in working with the constantly evolving script each night…What they bring to the work is so important in terms of telling the story. The play lives or dies based on their interpretations of these characters.” So we’ve got the ensemble vibe going on AND off the stage! This really is the epitome of a collaborative effort.
7. The bigger picture: Keely Enright asks, “Who owns our artistic endeavors?” Do they belong to the creator, or do they belong to the audience? Anyone, in any artistic medium has probably asked themselves this question. The amount of time and energy it takes to create a piece of art only to see it disappear to a buyer, or a song or play taken by the audience and applied to their own experience. It's all noble, in its way, but what is the creator left with? Art isn’t easy… (Stephen Sondheim said that…not me).
8. Hope. I may just be a huge nerd, but I always leave the theatre feeling better than when I walked in. I love to be entertained, and I love listening to stories. Theatre is truly a living, a breathing craft. Keely Enright thinks that “what you get from this production is a sense of hope and a sense that art really does matter—that it can save us.” No matter what kind of mess I find myself in, I have always found art to be the strongest redeemer. It really does seem to transcend all bullshit…See what I did there?
Derek Ahonen’s “The Transcendents” opens Friday July 31st and runs for SIX PERFORMANCES ONLY. The curtain goes up at 7:30. Stick around on opening night for a champagne reception and to meet the playwright and cast. Purchase tickets here.
For more in-depth info check out this preview article from Charleston City Paper.
Cover image from http://woolfestreetplayhouse.com/