Backstage: Colin Hovde talks about his goals for Theater Alliance

Before Colin Hovde came on as artistic director of Theater Alliance last July, the company had gone almost a year without one.

Now Theater Alliance is in the midst of strategic planning, though Hovde says he already has a sense of some things he’d like to accomplish. “One of the things I’d like to do — it’s an incredibly challenging thing to actually do — I’d like to see more local playwrights on our stages. . . . I’m making that a priority: to find ways to celebrate local artists, playwrights and ensembles, in terms of creating new work.”

  • ( Courtesy WSC Avant Bard / ) - Marc Okrand and Stephen Fry in WSC Avant Bard’s 2011 \
  • ( C. Stanley Photography / ) - Dylan Morrison Myers stars in the Colin Hovde-directed play \
  • ( Cameron Whitman / ) - The Keegan Theatre will present \

( Courtesy WSC Avant Bard / ) - Marc Okrand and Stephen Fry in WSC Avant Bard’s 2011 \"Shakespeare in Klingon\" benefit. Okrand, the company’s board president, created the Klingon language for the Star Trek films.

In a broader sense, he said, “I’m trying to redefine the aesthetics of what Theater Alliance is. Something I’m very passionate about is ensemble storytelling and magical realism, so the piece [is] very much in the aesthetic that resonates with me.

He cited Theater Alliance’s upcoming production of “How to Disappear Completely and Never be Found . . . ,” which he will direct, as fitting in with the latter half of that vision (the playwright, Fin Kennedy, is from the United Kingdom). “It has a very specific reality [yet] it’s very theatrical. You get to see the magic happening in front of you.”

The show lines up with Hovde’s philosophy on theater, too, namely that it “should be fun, engaging and entertaining but should ask questions that are relevant to the audience. And that’s something I’m developing in this position . . . finding pieces that really do speak to the community and to the audience, and ask those bigger questions.”

A big question looming over Theater Alliance is what will happen after Dec. 31, when it loses its space at the H Street Playhouse.

“We moved here 10 years ago when it was still boarded up from the race riots, and Theater Alliance using that playhouse really helped that neighborhood,” he said. “It’s sad to be leaving right when it’s really starting to hop.”

Hovde anticipates having “a concrete idea of where we’re going” in the next two months. “We’re brainstorming possibilities. No options are off the table.”

March 10-April 1, H Street Playhouse, 1365 H St. NE, www.theateralliance.com, 202-241-2539.

Law and order at Keegan

“Twelve Angry Men,” opening at the Keegan Theatre on Saturday, is just that: 12 angry men, sitting around a table. That a bunch of interesting people stuck in a room and faced with a challenge can be entertaining is the premise upon which most reality television is built (“This is the story of seven strangers, picked to live in a house . . . ”), but something so spare can easily spiral from compelling and powerful to boring and flat.

Finding a way to keep the energy high in a physically static show “has been the most difficult thing,” said director Christopher Gallu. “It’s 12 guys at a table, which is not really the most interesting theater you can think of from a visual standpoint.” He described the set as “really spartan. . . . We don’t even have walls.” Gallu had thought about ditching the table but ultimately opted against it: “That’s a director trying to put too much of a conceit on it.”

In a show like this one, said Gallu, “there’s no sleight of hand. You either do it or you don’t. There’s no place to hide.”

Gallu acknowledges that the material is dated. “We’ve got 12 white guys,” he said, and though there are scripts that allow for unconventional casting, including women and minorities, the Keegan’s production will stick to the traditional ­version. “In that sense, it feels dated,” he said. “But it does, despite that, still touch on these real questions of how you judge guilt. I don’t think you lose that.”

Monday to March 25, Church Street Theater, 1742 Church St. NW,
www.keegantheatre.com
, 703-892-0202.

Beam me up, Shakespeare

For its second annual benefit, WSC Avant Bard will be, in the company’s words, “beaming the Bard Klingons back to Rosslyn.”

In case one is fluent in neither Shakespeare nor “Star Trek,” this means WSC Avant Bard’s benefit Sunday will feature scenes from Shakespeare in both English and Klingon, a language conceived for the “Star Trek” movies. “Shakespeare in Klingon II: The Wrath of (Michael) Kahn” will, as the name suggests, include ­Michael Kahn, artistic director of the District’s Shakespeare Theatre Company.

WSC promises a one-night extrava­ganza of Klingon, a skit by local playwright Allyson Currin, arcane Shakespeare trivia — not that any of it will seem arcane to Kahn, the featured guest — and an after-party at the Palomar Hotel. After all, the folks at WSC have a pretty intimate relationship with Klingon: Board President Marc Okrand is the linguist who invented the language.

Sue Palka, Emmy-winning meteorologist, will emcee, and performers will include plenty of WSC alumni: Delia Taylor, Delancy Williams, founding ensemble members Brian Hemmingsen and Nanna Ingvarsson. Artistic directors Michael Dove of Forum, Kathleen Akerley of Longacre Lea Productions and Colin Hovde of Theater Alliance will also join in the festivities.

There are two tiers of tickets for the event. A $250 ticket includes the reception after the show and four flexible-use passes to WSC Avant Bard’s 2012-13 season; the $85 option does not include the reception and instead comes with two flexible-use passes for the 2011-12 season.

Sunday, Rosslyn Spectrum, 1911 N. Fort Myer Dr., Arlington,
www.wsc­avantbard.org, 703-418-4808.

 
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