Theater Review - Bonus tracks

Art Within's 2 x 4 takes theater behind the scenes

When he bought a DVD player, Art Within Artistic Director Bryan Coley changed his perspective on the creative process. Watching the wealth of behind-the-scenes footage added to the more lavish DVDs, Coley wondered, "Could this not be applied to theater?"

That thought comes to fruition with Art Within's 2 x 4: Theatre Under Construction, which offers two new plays — Randy Wyatt's Face of the Earth and Wayne Harrell's Song of the Bow — as well as a variety of ancillary material about the rehearsal and script development process.

Spring Mason directs Face of the Earth, which depicts the grieving father of a kidnapped child dealing with his relationships with God and his wife, featuring Robert Johnson and Shawna Tucker. Then, Terri Measel Adams directs Patricia French, Larry Davis and Joey Cleary as theater artists wrestling with issues of faith and sexual orientation in Song of the Bow.

The plays themselves are just part of the show, though. Pages of the scripts will be pasted on all four walls of the 14th Street Playhouse's second stage. A video chronicling the plays' development process will screen before the plays start, and bonus material will run during breaks within the show. "We will see 20 minutes of the play and then go to a break for bonus material, which includes deleted scenes, perspectives from such artists as the playwright, director and cast, and background material," Coley says. "Talkbacks" with the audience will follow each production.

Coley says the "bonus material" format of 2 x 4 won't overshadow the premieres of the new scripts, which he describes as "a staged reading on steroids."

2x4: Theatre Under Construction plays through March 17 at the 14th Street Playhouse, 173 14th St., Thurs.-Sat. at 7:30 p.m., Sun. at 5 p.m. $15. Face of the Earth runs through March 3 and Song of the Bow runs March 7-17. 404-733-5000. www.artwithin.org.??

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