The Actor's Group, a local independent theatre company, will perform "Three Ways of 'Counting the Ways' " at 7:30 p.m. tonight, Friday and Saturday as well as Oct. 24-26, at The Public Art Academy, 217 W. Fourth St., located between the Bullfrog Brewery and Woodlands Bank.
The company, a small group comprised of "very focused individuals," specializes in "straight" plays, which are theater productions that perform a story through talking rather than singing and dancing, like a musical.
"(As) a low-budget, no-frills company, our emphasis is good work, interesting material, solid acting and expert direction. We tackle shows that ask hard questions, bring light to issues and most importantly, make people think," said Amy Byrne, Actors' Group's newest member. She will be directing one of the three groups that make up the whole performance of "Three Ways of 'Counting the Ways.'"
“Three Ways of ‘Counting the Ways’”?stars local actors, from left, Kathleen Houser, Conrad Schull, Tom Ryersbach and Susan Guinter.
"Counting the Ways," is written by Edward Albee, a modern, multiple Pulitzer Prize- (for Drama) and Tony Award-winning American playwrite. According to Byrne, his work is known for being controversial, thought provoking and unique.
"He has had a striking impact on American drama with his experimental writing form and his uncompromising examination of the human condition," she said.
This particular work will explore three interpretations of the short, one-act play and address the nature of love and marriage through "He" and "She" points of view.
"The play is about a married couple and our couples run the spectrum of ages. We have one 'younger' couple, a middle-aged couple, and an 'older' couple. I use the terms 'younger' and 'older' loosely," Byrne said.
Byrne calls it an extremely unique "triptych" performance - something composed or presented in three parts or sections - and one that will give audiences a special theater experience.
"This script is a perfect vehicle for this type of production because it is written with great room for interpretation. With three different casts and three different directors, each performance will be vastly different," she said.
This will allow the audience to have three different experiences through the same script.
"No one has ever produced a triptych production of this play. I have personally never attended or even heard of a company tackling something like this," she said.
Each cast is comprised of two actors and a director: Conrad Schull and Susan Guinter, directed by Amy Rene Byrne; Thomas Powell and Nancy Antram, directed by Jeane Ryersbach; and Tom Ryersbach and Kathleen Houser, directed by Sarah Beddingfield.
"Each play will have a unique interpretation so the audience can see how a play can be interpreted in several ways and still maintain its integrity," said Tom Ryersbach, who co-founded the company with his wife, Jeane.
He compared the feat to a Beatles tune being performed by a symphony orchestra.
Byrne said that just about anyone will enjoy the show.
"Anyone who has ever been in a long-term relationship, marriage or even just had parents will find something to relate to in this production," she said.
The play's author, Albee, described "Counting the Ways" as "Vaudeville" - a type of entertainment that was popular in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries; a light, often comic theatrical piece frequently combining pantomime, dialogue, dancing and song (Merriam-Webster).
But, Byrne said, the theme of each of the three performances done by The Actors' Group will vary based on the director's approach.
Byrne said that, since its seasons hinge on available talent and interest,
The Actors' Group always is looking to add new talent to their casting pool, and that once someone is cast, that person is able to become a member of the company.
Hinging on the power of word-of-mouth, one will not find The Actors' Group online; those interested should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For tickets to "Three Ways of 'Counting the Ways,'" call 570-322-0587.