June 17th is RTP’s Sunday Brunch Readings Series
Roy Proctor, Richmond playwright and prior staff theater and art critic for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, will be presenting a bill of four short plays at 2 p.m. this Sunday at the Richmond Triangle Players.
RTP is hosting a Sunday Brunch Readings Series on June 17, where Proctor will be unveiling “Fabulous Water Sports and Other Plays” to Richmond in the form of a staged reading. He will be introducing four original comedies.
The first is “The Oldest Living Homosexual” about a new tri-county gay community center attempting to grant its first lifetime achievement award to the area’s assumed oldest gay man, but not without a few hurdles.
Originally, “The Oldest Living Homosexual” began as a companion piece to “Fabulous Water Sports” that could be read by an actor. Proctor attempted to write a speech for an elderly gay man, but his writing was neither funny nor interesting, he said.
“I finally found the structure I needed to push the play forward, but it bears little resemblance to what I intended to write,” said Proctor.
Within the title play, “Fabulous Water Sports,” the setting is Richmond’s first gay retirement home, where a “psychologically fragile” water-exercise instructor is forced to meet the needs of his high-maintenance boyfriend, while also attempting to instruct a pool full of elderly gay men.
The inspiration for this comedy, Proctor said, came from a water aerobics class he takes three days a week at Sheltering Arms; however, the class he attends does not resemble the occurrences within the play. An example of this, he said, is that in reality, he’s the only man in a pool surrounded by all women, in which they have nicknamed him the “token man.”
“In fact, the aerobics instructor in “Fabulous Water Sports” is so psychologically fragile that he wouldn’t last five minutes at Sheltering Arms,” said Proctor.
In the second comedy, “Rub a Dub Dub,” after a young butcher and baker in Richmond’s Oregon Hill attempt to bait a young candlestick-maker into their new hot tub, are rudely awakened. Proctor’s idea for this comedy was sparked by the simple question: “What were the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker doing in that tub in the nursery rhyme?”
Proctor’s concluding comedy, “The Hollow,” is a 40-minute epistolary one-act, which depicts the relationship of two 73-year-old men: one is from a small-town in North Carolina and the other is located in West Hollywood, who have the opportunity to meet for the first time at their 55th high school reunion. In this love story, the odds are against them, but the audience will watch as the love story unfolds through an exchange of 18 letters.
“The creation of each of the four plays in “Fabulous Water Sports and Other Plays” was prompted by different impulses and life circumstances.”The Hollow,” for example, consists of 18 letters exchanged by four men over a four-month period. The letters are intended to be read — much as the letters in A.R. Gurney’s “Love Letters” are meant to be read — and I wrote the play initially to provide a vehicle in which all those fine senior actors who have lost their ability to memorize could feel comfortable,” said Proctor.
Mary Best Bova, founder of the Virginia Rose Theatre (1980s) and later the resident director of Mill Mountain Theatre in Roanoke, VA, is the director of this bill. She casted 9 individuals, which includes Joe Inscoe, John Hagadorn, Gordon Bass, Jacqueline O’Connor, Jane Bass, Chris O’Neill, Phil Vollmer, Zack Page, and Graham Grasty.
After 30 years as the staff theater and art critic on The Richmond News Leader, the then newspaper folded in 1992 becoming Times-Dispatch, where Proctor continued his career until retirement in 2004. The writer continues to freelance for the Times-Dispatch focusing on opera reviews and Sunday art features.
“After publishing a dozen short stories in my 20s, I settled into a career as an arts reporter and critic. I guess you can say the recent burst of playwriting is a late-in-life exercise in Iowa catch-up,” said Proctor.
He completed 21 short plays, from last September through the end of March, in which there were six gay-themed plays, six “straight” plays, and nine variants of O. Henry short stories, where Proctor combined eight of the nine into a two-act play, called “Madison Square,” which is showed primarily in Manhattan parks. He didn’t have any gay characters or specifically gay themes.
“I don’t know how long it took me to write each one. I usually work on two or three at one time, and they tend to be completed at about the same time. I was turning out about one batch of three a month,” said Proctor.
“Fabulous Water Sports and Other Plays” kicked off the DC Queer Theatre Festival last month at the DC Center in Washington. The first performance of “The Hollow” took place last week at the Senior Theatre USA Festival and Conference at Harrah’s Hotel & Casino in New Orleans, La.
General-admission tickets are $5 and can be purchased on RTP’s web site, www.rtriangle.org, or, if still available, at the door.
Rachel Williams is a rising senior at Virginia Commonwealth University with a calling to be a voice to the voiceless; and passion is to bring gender equality and ethnic justice to the forefront of RVA.
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