Archive for Thursday, October 15, 1998

PLAYWRIGHT DRAMATIZES TWENTYSOMETHING LIVES

October 15, 1998

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Don't expect 24-year-old Will Averill to speak for his generation; he's more interested in entertaining than enlightening.

Like countless young writers before him, 24-year-old playwright Will Averill has taken to heart a piece of advice heard so frequently it's nearly a cliche by now: Write what you know.

If what you know involves twentysomething men and women groping to find their way in the world after college, it's inevitable that someone somewhere will apply the label ``Generation X'' to categorize what you're doing.

But Averill, a founder of Card Table Theatre and author of the group's latest production, ``One More Moondance,'' isn't interested in summing up -- or being summed up by -- a generation. He'd rather make people laugh.

``I hope people don't assume I'm speaking for my generation, because that's not what the play was intended to do,'' Averill says. ``I'm raising issues, but at the same time I don't want it to be an issue-driven play. I want it to be entertaining.''

The issues raised by ``One More Moondance'' -- sexual identity, nonconformity, the conflicting expectations of family and peers -- ring true to those who've experienced the uncertain period between college and career, according to Jeremy Auman, director of the play and artistic director, along with Averill and Paul Rosen, of Card Table Theatre.

``College students would enjoy this immensely,'' Auman says. ``They know these people. These are real people in their 20s, just out of college or still in college, dealing with their own lives and their own issues. Will has done a nice job of finding those issues but not making it an issue-oriented play.''

A sequel to Averill's ``Tales From the Wasteland,'' ``One More Moondance'' is a comedy about three roommates. Anne (played by Abigael Birrell) works for a matchmaking service. Renee (Nick Schmitz) is a flight attendant who obsessively collects airline liquor bottles. Susan (Johanna Wagenknecht) is a college student searching for the courage to tell her mother she's a lesbian.

The mother's impending visit sets off a farcical bid to find a man to pose as Susan's boyfriend. It's a situation audiences are used to seeing on the screen, Averill says, but not on the stage.

``That kind of thing is represented in television and film a lot, but we're not seeing that a lot in theater -- at least not the stuff I've seen,'' he says.

``People our age really have a lot of new and unique situations to deal with,'' Averill adds.

Dramatizing those situations -- and maybe filling a critical dramatic niche -- is a big part of what motivates Averill to write.

``When I decided I was going to write about this subject matter, a lot of it had to do with having seen Kevin Smith's work,'' including ``Clerks,'' an offbeat movie about a group of friends working at a convenience store, Averill says. ``Seeing somebody write about our generation and do it openly and brazenly, with intelligent dialogue and without being apologetic for it -- that was an inspiration.''

Auman calls ``Moondance'' the first ``straight'' play that Card Table Theatre has produced.

``The first production was more experimental. Then over the summer we did a variety show. This is the first show I'd classify as more traditional theater -- there's an Act 1, Act 2, Act 3.''

-- The Mag's phone message number is 832-7146. Send e-mail to jbiles@ljworld.com.

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