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February 13, 2004 - Image 38

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2004-02-13

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A double dose of drama from Chicago playwright

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Rebecca Gilman graces the stages of local theater companies.


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here's a backroom in a
Chicago bar where four
writers develop comedy
sketches for performances
that cost $5 a ticket. The group, dub-
bing itself the Clowny Collective, has
fun inventing humor for short scripts.
The identity of at least one writer
might surprise a growing number of
her fans because they are familiar with
the serious nature of her independent
dramatic projects. Rebecca Gilman,
working in her home office, has writ-
ten plays about killing, race baiting,
stalking and other
issues that she wants
to bring to public
Two of her works

terror and exploitation.
"This probably is the first time I've
had two plays running in one area, but
I don't always know which theater is
producing one of my plays," says
Gilman, who soon will be introducing
a new production in London, where
she also has received critical acclaim
after accolades in the United States.
"Both dramas produced in Michigan
are representative of what I'm trying to
write about, and that's an idea that's
important to me. I'm trying to figure
out why people treat each other the
way they do and what the effects of
that treatment can be. I always feel I
respond to people who are downtrod-

— The Glory of
Living and Boy Gets
Girl— are being
produced simultane-
ously in metro
The first, directed
by David Regal for
the University of
Detroit Mercy
Theatre Company,
runs through Feb.
Richard Marlatt (Tony) and Barbara Coven (Theresa) in
22. The second,
"Boy Gets Girl"
directed by Evelyn
Orbach, will be
staged Feb. 18-March 21 by the
den or don't get the best breaks in life."
Jewish Ensemble Theatre.
Gilman, whose interest in writing
"People outside Chicago probably
for the stage made its appearance
just see the dark side of my writing,
while she was attending an Alabama
but there is another side," says
high school, saw the first public per-
Gilman, 39, who brings lighter
formance of one of her works at the
moments into her serious pieces to
1982 Young Playwrights Festival in
ease the overall intensity and suspense.
New York.
"The collective does things that
Because she didn't know anybody
are completely funny, goofy and
with a theater career, it was hard for
totally for comic effect. Because
her to imagine the stage as a real pro-
these are short, they are not pro-
fessional choice. Instead, she decided
duced around the country."
to become an English professor and
The Cloy of Living, Gilman's first
earned her master's degree at the
play receiving critical attention, started University of Virginia.
with a true story but morphed into
While continuing with script proj-
fiction as its characters came to unveil
ects, she changed her mind about a
themselves through issues of child
theater career and earned her master's
abuse, sexual deviance and multiple
degree in playwriting at the University
murders. Boy Gets Girl begins with a
of Iowa.
seemingly pleasant blind date and
"I had to get a job and make a living
moves into a predatory relationship of
and didn't have as much time to write

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