Although the festival celebrates individuality, everybody looks like they got dressed out of the same closet. You could make a drinking game out of plaid-shirt sightings, bonus points if you catch six standing in a row (that happened, although it’s unclear if the flannel-clad men noticed that they matched).
Anthony Logan Cole, the technical director of one-man show “Thumbs Up!” is distributing fortune cookies out of a wicker basket.
“They’re advice cookies,” he says, a tasty gimmick to promote the show about “a guy who decides to hitchhike across the country to fulfill his father’s last wish.”
Michael Venske, the writer and actor of “Thumbs Up!,” says the story is based loosely on his teenage misadventures. Or it was, 13 drafts ago.
“It’s not about that hitchhiker anymore,” he says. Driving a stolen church van, the then-16-year-old Venske and his girlfriend offered a ride to a stranger in exchange for two packs of cigarettes. “I didn’t intend to steal the van,” Venske says. “It just happened.”
Venske and his girlfriend drove from their home state of Minnesota to the Santa Monica, Calif., pier. They fell asleep on the beach, woke up with third-degree burns and wound up in the hospital.
“We gave [the hospital] fake names,” Venske says, “because we were runaways, and we’d stolen the van, and also I’d stolen $5,492 that I’d discovered in a locked box in my grandparents’ basement.”
The story takes as many twists and turns as the highway he was driving on before we finally meet the hitchhiker, a drug enthusiast with an affinity for sexual innuendo. Unsurprisingly, Venske deemed him “not a good man” and cut him out of the final “Thumbs Up!” script.
“What I learned is, there’s definitely a higher power,” says Venske, possibly trying to make amends for “borrowing” a motor vehicle from a church.
The other take-home from his experience: Venske decided he needed to do this performance and to do it alone. “I knew if I didn’t do a one-man show, I’d always regret it.”
Change at Arena Stage
Starting in August, Arena Stage will no longer keep its box office open on Mondays.
In a written statement, Arena Executive Director Edgar Dobie said, “Closing box offices on Monday is a standard industry practice nationwide, as most theaters are dark Monday evenings.”
Nationally, however, many theaters do keep the box office open on Mondays, including the Goodman Theatre in Chicago and the Public Theater in New York. Most large theaters in the Washington area have Monday box office hours, as well.