Road Less Traveled Productions (RLTP) today announced it will mount the third in its three-year retrospective of the plays of Buffalo native A.R. Gurney; the Western New York (WNY) premiere of Ancestral Voices will open Friday, April 20, 2012, at the Road Less Traveled Theater.
Ancestral Voices is set in Buffalo in the early 1940s and draws on Gurney’s own childhood for inspiration. The play focuses on young Eddie, whose idyllic family life has begun to unravel following a shocking announcement from the clan’s patriarch.
RLTP Resident Actor Bob Grabowski will play Eddie; he is joined by RLTP Resident Actress Lisa Vitrano, along with actors David Hayes, Joe Natale, and Kathleen Betsko-Yale. RLTP Artistic Director Scott Behrend will stage and direct the work in a fashion similar to that of Gurney’s Screen Play, produced by RLTP in 2011.
“It’s very much a memory play,” said Behrend. “Mr. Gurney’s intention is for the audience to watch the characters remember their story, talk about it, and try to deal with it rather than reenact it.”
Behrend says Ancestral Voices is an interesting change of pace from Screen Play and Light Lunch, the previous two entries in RLTP’s retrospective. “Those plays were both very topical and very political, whereas Voices is domestic and sort of universal.” But, says Behrend, though the play is “warm and funny and nostalgic as with so much of Gurney’s work, it’s also very critical of the ways in which nostalgia may deceive and distort, and there’s a powerful vein of melancholy and loss that runs through it.”
“Gurney casts a sober eye on recollections of home, family, and childhood, yet manages to embrace those imperfect realities, flaws and all.” Behrend concludes, “It’s really an ideal grace note” to RLTP’s series of offbeat and less commonly produced Gurney efforts.
Mr. Gurney, best known for plays such as Love Letters, The Cocktail Hour, and The Dining Room , will appear at RLTP’s 2012 Spring Gala on Saturday, May 5. The Gala will begin with a 7:30 PM performance of Ancestral Voices at The Road Less Traveled Theater and continue at 9:15 PM with a reception at The Saturn Club (977 Delaware Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14209). Cocktails & hors d’oeuvres will be served.
“Our mission at RLTP is to develop and produce original works by Western New York writers. We developed this retrospective to honor Buffalo’s most successful native playwright,” Behrend said. “ Ancestral Voices complements that mission nicely by celebrating Buffalo, as well, for its invaluable contribution to the moral and artistic identity of A.R. Gurney.”
The production will star both of RLTP’s Resident Actors, Bob Grabowski and Lisa Vitrano, as well as RLTP “audience favorite” David Hayes, and two veteran Buffalo stage performers making their RLTP debuts, Joe Natale and Kathleen Betsko-Yale. “In this sense,” said Behrend, “ Ancestral Voices is also a celebration of RLTP’s own ensemble and WNY’s rich theatre community at large.”
Ancestral Voices opens Friday, April 20 th , at the Road Less Traveled Theater in the Market Arcade Film & Arts Centre in Downtown Buffalo, and runs through Sunday, May 13. Showtimes are Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 7:30 PM and Sundays at 2 PM. RLTP’s 2012 Spring Gala is scheduled for Saturday, May 5. Tickets are available online via Ticketmaster at www.ticketmaster.com or by calling (800) 745-3000.