Backstage with Evalyn Hansen: John Cole, director of Lanford Wilson's "HOT L BALTIMORE," shared his thoughts on the play during early rehearsals.
John Cole, director of Lanford Wilson's "HOT L BALTIMORE," shared his thoughts on the play during early rehearsals.
JC: A lot of it is boldfaced honest raw humor that's really funny. "HOT L BALTIMORE" is the HOTEL BALTIMORE neon sign with the "E" burnt out. The play is about a beautiful old hotel now fallen into disrepair and inhabited by street hustlers, prostitutes and senior citizens. These people are living in the margins and have nowhere to go. While trying to get by living in this hotel, they get notice that the wrecking ball is going to tear down the joint.
"HOT L BALTIMORE" is what happens to those marginal people in dire economic straights when our society is bent on creating a shiny new future, and we forget about moving forward with our hearts. It helps us remember those people we walk past on the streets. It helps us remember how valuable they are.
In these economic times we might identify with these people a little bit more. At the time of looming economic catastrophe it is just a total shot in the arm to say, "Live a little, laugh a little, we're going to be OK even if it all falls down." It's about how to tend to your spirit when it's all crashing down around you. The play takes place in the hotel lobby during the 24 hours before the hotel's demolition. The lobby is inhabited by great characters. One great old prostitute sees everything falling down around her and ultimately chooses to dance amidst the rubble.
Arden Prehn plays April Green, a street-hardened, wise-cracking hooker with a big heart that hangs out in the hotel lobby in her nightgown and gold silk Dacron kimono. Arden is a wife, mother, ski instructor and river guide with a vibrant personality and an infectious laugh.
EH: What is exciting about acting?
AP: One of the things with this show is to make people laugh, to share that joy. It also allows you to open yourself up to create the character that you become on stage. I think a lot of us have a passion for transforming, through the lives of the characters that we play, to share emotions and ideas with our audience. It is a wonderful creative outlet.
EH: What is the message of the play?
AP: Despite the travesty that goes on and even when things are torn down around you, each human being has some spirit that survives through it all. And if you reach out you can find an extended family that you can embrace.
Girl is another character in "HOT L BALTIMORE" played by Mig Windows. Girl is a fascinating, young chameleon character that regularly changes her name and personality. Mig, willowy with a porcelain complexion, is a first-year student at RCC. She shared her thoughts on the complicated character of Girl.
MW: If I were to diagnose her, I would probably give her ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder) because she changes her thoughts right in the middle of a sentence. Girl is so complex that you can't really define her. She doesn't really know what she wants. If she new what she wanted, she'd probably have a much better life.
EH: Why do you like doing live theater?
MW: Everybody is in the same space together, in the dark together, in same room, the same breath, we're sharing energy.
"HOT L BALTIMORE" plays through May 17 at Rogue Community College's Warehouse on Bartlett Street in Medford. For tickets and information, call 245-7637.
Evalyn Hansen is a resident of Ashland. She has a bachelor's degree in dramatic arts from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master's degree from San Francisco State University. She studied acting at The American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco and is a founding member of San Francisco's Magic Theatre. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.