1. Defining the Duende Play
So, Duende began in 1998, producing tours of the three plays I had written for Sierra Repertory Theatre. We immediately started scouting for projects to expand our catalog. A list of desiderata quickly became clear:
- The project had to deal in some way with cultural conflict. California was our starting point but US history and the history of science, were also on the table.
- Each of our shows had to address the curriculum (as defined by the California State Dept. of Education) of one or more grade levels. At the same time we had an eye on making them complex enough and fresh enough that they would appeal to adults
- All of our performers would be paid.
- The economic constraints imposed by paying our actors led to our favoring solo performances.
- We were intent that the solo performances also be dramas, that is that they dramatized conflicts.
- Since the resolution of cultural conflicts requires a change of consciousness, the most dramatic conflicts for a solo performance are those that take place within the character herself.
- We would favor the creation of characters/narrators who were not themselves the famous or the powerful but rather “ordinary” people caught up in the large conflicts surrounding them.
- None of the above would keep us from occasionally producing plays targeting an adult audience.
2. Expanding the Duende Catalog
Over the years Duende has produced sixteen plays written specifically for Duende, though some were produced elsewhere first. Five other plays are included in the catalog; these were written in the spirit of Duende but commissioned by other theaters. Here is the complete list:
- Gunpowder Man
- Friendly Fire
- Corrido de un Sobreviviente
- Betsy Ross of the Bears
- The Great Blight
- Dust Storm
- Inventing the West
- Wicked Dick Three Eyes
- On Fire!
- Children of Light
- Starry Messenger
- Fastened to a Dying Animal
- Love, Isadora
- The Air We Share
- Money Man
Each of these plays will be featured in a future blog, though not in chronological order.
I’ll begin next time with Money Man.