Kasi Campbell was overcome last week by "sheer terror that I'd have to get up in front of people and talk" when she won her first Helen Hayes Award, as outstanding director of a resident play for "The Dazzle." But she managed to speak fondly of Rep Stage, the little Equity company on the campus of Howard Community College in Columbia.
"I think we create a family out here," the three-time nominee says. Between Rep Stage and the much-nominated Toby's Dinner Theatre, Campbell says, it "kind of makes you wonder what's happening up here in Columbia, doesn't it?"
Bruce Nelson, who has been nominated five times, won his first Hayes Award as outstanding lead actor for "The Dazzle." "I'm finally, I guess, after 20 years, relaxing into acting," he told Backstage.
Like Campbell, he lives in Columbia and teaches drama at Howard Community College. "What I love are my students being able to see me in these things," he says. It's "a teaching hospital kind of affair."
Five-time Hayes Award winner Howell Binkley wasn't alone when he presented an award at the gala. He strolled on with Bentley Binkley, an impressively dreadlocked 84-pound bouvier des Flandres. Bentley crunched on a treat while Binkley announced the winner.
Binkley, who designed the lighting for the Sondheim Celebration and the Kennedy Center's current "Streetcar Named Desire," is working on the Shakespeare Theatre's "Cyrano." On Broadway he's currently represented by "Avenue Q" and "Golda's Balcony." Bentley is happy to sit through endless tech rehearsals, Binkley says, yet "still wants to run; he's still a dog."
"Women don't feel sorry for themselves in Bosnia," says playwright Eve Ensler, who interviewed victims of mass rape in the war-torn former Yugoslavia a decade ago. "If you portray people who are suffering, the tendency is sometimes to endow them with self-pity. One of the things I was moved by with women in Bosnia is how little self-pity they had . . . in the face of incredibly dire tragedies."
Olney Theatre Center opens its annual issue-oriented Potomac Theatre Festival with Ensler's "Necessary Targets" (May 26-June 27). The play follows two American psychotherapists in Bosnia to help the rape victims.
Ensler says some of her Bosnia interviews were used in "The Vagina Monologues." Though she wrote "Necessary Targets" first, it didn't see the light of day until after "Monologues" had won her international recognition. "Targets" was first performed at benefits with Ensler and high-wattage co-stars such as Jane Fonda before its 2002 off-Broadway run.
The production at Olney will be directed by Cornelia Pleasants, who teaches at Boston University College of Fine Arts. Costume designer Vasilija Zivanic, a Boston University MFA, grew up in Belgrade.
Theater Alliance Season
The Theater Alliance's Jeremy Skidmore, heading into his third season as artistic director, specializes in presenting Washington premieres of new or nearly new works. He'll open next season with "Mary's Wedding" (Aug. 5-Sept. 5) by Canadian writer Stephen Massicotte. Skidmore will direct Kathleen Coons and Aubrey Deeker in the tale of a love affair told in a nonlinear style. "You know how it ends, but the beauty of it is how you get from Point A to Point B," says Skidmore.
Five works will get two public performances each in the Pangea Projects, a five-week session (Oct. 18-Nov. 21) of "very intense workshops on brand spanking-new plays," says Skidmore.
"The Spitfire Grill" (March 10-April 10), an intimate seven-character musical by James Valcq and Fred Alley Lee, is based on the uplifting 1996 movie about a women recently released from prison who starts a new life in a small town. Paul Douglas Michnewicz will direct.
"Headsman's Holiday" (May 26-June 26, 2005) by Hungarian Kornel Hamvai is about a traveling executioner during the French Revolution who longs to escape in a hot air balloon. Aaron Posner of Philadelphia's Arden Theatre will stage it.
The Theater Alliance performs in the H Street Playhouse at 1365 H St. NE.
* Ticketplace, which sells half-price same-day tickets to theaters, dance and music performances, has moved from the Old Post Office Pavilion to a storefront space at 407 Seventh St. NW. The Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington, which operates Ticketplace, reports the new venue tripled its sales for a typical Tuesday on its first day there.
* Small arts groups looking for a downtown venue can apply to the Cultural Development Corp., which is seeking proposals by June 7 for use of the Mead Theatre lab in its Flashpoint arts incubator at 916 G St. NW. The organization's Anne Corbett says she's looking for arts groups that have "well-thought-out production ideas." Visit www.flashpointdc.org.
* The Theatre Lobby's annual Mary Goldwater Awards for theater artists working with smaller professional companies will be handed out Monday at 8 p.m. at the Bethesda Writer's Center. Being honored for acting prowess are Anne Bowles, Hugh T. Owen, Barbara Rappaport and Chris Stezin. Bill Largess, also an actor, is being cited for directing, Marianne Meadows for lighting design and the Theater Alliance company for "providing a forum for plays rarely or never seen on area stages."
* Horizons Theatre will offer "Going Solo: A Showcase of Fabulous Females" as its final show of the season, June 3-27 at Theater-on-the-Run in Arlington. "Pumping Josey: Life and Death in Suburbia," written by solo performer Pam Sherman and Washington playwright Caleen Sinette Jennings, will be the centerpiece, accompanied by a revolving schedule of other solo pieces: "Domestic Snakes," a blend of movement and text conceived by Karin Abromaitis; "Communion," performed by Vanessa Thomas and written with Kumani (Denise Gantt); and "Portraits in Time," a cabaret sung by Terri Allen. Call 703-578-1100 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.