Opening ACT 1's 2012-13 season at The Darkhorse Theatre in Nashville this fall will be the company's revival of Michael Cristofer's The Shadow Box, the 1977 Tony Award winner for best play (which won for Cristofer the 1977 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, brought to the stage by director David McGinnis, who makes his ACT 1 directorial debut with this effort.
The Shadow Box runs at The Darkhorse Theatre October 19-27 and McGinnis is excited about mounting the production, which will include a creative team of local stage veterans (including Delores McCreery and Robert Miller) supporting a cast still to be determined.
A longtime veteran of Nashville theater, McGinnis has appeared in or worked on productions for Circle Players, Actors Bridge, ACT 1, Out Front on Main and other theater companies in the region, including East Tennessee where he grew up.
"To me this is a show that will remain timeless as it deals with something that is familiar to all of us, our own mortality," McGinnis says. "Through these characters, we can relate to what their family and friends are going through because we have all known these people in our lives."
According to McGinnis, who will hold auditions for the production on August 4 and 6, "Cristofer wisely never named the disease that plagues our families. Although it was written about cancer patients, it can just as easily be adapted to so many other ailments such as AIDS, Alzheimer's and many other things that were unknown at the time the play was written making it timeless, if not even more relevant than when originally published."
Directing the play is likely to dredge up emotional memories for McGinnis, who admits that personal experiences makes The Shadow Box resonate more deeply for him.
"When I submitted this play, it was an emotional decision for me, having been touched with the loss of loved ones in my life," he admits. "I see many of my friends and family in several of the characters of the show. The three families-an elderly woman with her grown caregiver daughter, the traditional family, and the gay couple-are all people I have known and watched as they have all gone through the sad and often humorous times that go along with life and death."
In preparing to bring the play to the stage, McGinnis pointed out a quote from Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, one of the world's leading experts on the subject of death and dying: "There are five different stages that a person will go through when he faces the fact of his own death: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. These stages will last for different periods of time, they will replace each other, or exist at times side by side. . . But the one thing that usually persists through all of these stages is hope."
"This quote by Dr. Kubler-Ross is written in the front of the script and reminds us that through the anger, the laughter and the tears, these are all natural things," McGinnis says. "This script shows us all of these things in one day in the life of the three families. I love that at the end of the play, no one has died, yet we know that no one is going to live forever. It is not to look back at our lives or look forward to our deaths, but to look at this moment in time."
- Auditions for The Shadow Box will be August 4 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and August 6 from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at Tulip Street United Methodist Church, 522 Russell Street, Nashville. Auditions will be cold readings from the script. Headshots and resumes are welcome but not required. For further information, call David McGinnis at 615-830-9081 or via email at Nashdave1@yahoo.com.