Holly Robinson and Ian Forti-Landis perform in Robert Benjamin’s play Almost Treason. Courtesy photo
BY BERNADETTE LAURITZEN
What can one do with free time on their hands, enjoys cultural, has an intense passion about history, or would at least not like to watch the news for thirty minutes? Well local Playwright Robert F. Benjamin has just the plan in mind, that involves treason, well almost.
Almost Treason is a brief, patriotic comedy performed by local actors Holly Robinson and Ian Forti-Landis. The free, live performances will be available on the Zoom platform this month in conjunction with the local senior centers. Residents or anyone on this side of the Mississippi are welcome to join the performances at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 9, at 7 p.m. or at 2 p.m. Sept. 13. As the nation marks the 100th anniversary of the suffragette movement giving women the right to vote, one local gentleman found a way to mark the occasion, when not many occasions are taking place.
“I was inspired to adapt a short play about Mary Goddard that I’d written about nine years ago,” said Benjamin. “In the updated version, the main character, Kate, is not only determined to make an enormous contribution to the American Revolution, but she also looks ahead to the battle for women getting the right to vote.”
While the play needed to be adjusted to today’s new way of communicating with the masses, Benjamin confesses that it also contains, “a groaner of anachronisms and catch phrases,” appropriate to not just today’s era, but also one existing in a pandemic.
Local actors Holly Robinson and Ian Forti-Landis assume the roles of Kate and Edward as the senior centers’ former live plays evolve as virtual, live theater is this new medium for the arts. The whole world is learning how to make things work and bringing spectacular opportunities to those that may never see them otherwise. The blessing and a learning experience, is another way together, many can gain wisdom and a sophistication in history,not afforded to all.
Benjamin saw his first Zoom performances at the start of the shutdown, in a negative light.
“Shortly after, I saw better plays being performed on Zoom using far better production values,” said Benjamin, “and my attitude changed greatly. I’m now an avid fan of live, virtual theater.”
As in life, the more experience you have performing a task, the better you get the job done. Benjamin can see both theater artists and audiences learning how to make it work. Benjamin has always seen the goal of improvement, by allowing talk backs. The chance to express likes and dislikes, may add to follow up performances, being molded in slightly different ways, resulting in an even better performance. Think of it as the full-dress rehearsal, having slight changes made on the fly, prior to the first full audience performance. While the first performance is live, the playwright accepts all feedback with not only interest, but a gracious acceptance, meant to inform the artist.
The comedy is based on the courageous, bold accomplishments of an unsung foremother of our country. The performance and the talk-back, each lasting fifteen minutes, can be accessed by emailing Director@losalamosseniorcenter.com. The Zoom Master for the event prefers to go unmentioned, but has the undying gratitude of Robert F. Benjamin, allowing him to share his passion with our community.