ISIS Theatre Company continues its 11th season Friday, May 2, with a reading of “Late: A Cowboy Song” by Sarah Ruhl.
While “Late” is one of Ruhl’s earliest plays, this is not the first Ruhl work ISIS has performed. In April 2011, ISIS, the cast and its director Howard Shangraw were honored at the Inland Theatre League’s 36th-annual Awards Ceremony for the September 2010 production of Ruhl’s “The Clean House.” Also during 2011, ISIS read Ruhl’s first work, “Melancholy Play.”
“Late: A Cowboy Song” will star Meg Wolf, Mark Rogers and ISIS president and founder Suzanne Avalon, who admits, “Yes, I love Sarah Ruhl.” Ruhl’s sparse settings focus the audience’s and the actors’ attentions on the dialogue, Avalon shared.
“I think she sees the world askew, just enough to allow the whimsical and abstract to shine … Our readings really have to focus on the language,” Avalon said. “Not having a performing space available at this time to mount a full-staged production, we need to find material that allows the imagery to flourish, not the physicality. Ms. Ruhl contributes greatly to that.”
The play is about a couple’s deteriorating relationship, exacerbated with the birth of a child manifesting both male and female sexual organs. Themes such as sexual identity and gender identification are manifested through the three characters.
Mary, always late and always searching, is caught in a battle between societal expectations and experiencing true freedom. Mary meets a lady cowboy outside the city limits of Pittsburgh who teaches her how to ride a horse. Mary’s husband, Crick, can’t settle down and find a job with reliable earnings. Mary and Crick have a baby, but they can’t decide on the baby’s name or the baby’s gender.
“True to Ruhl’s style, the play has many whimsical, funny moments. It’s a tender play about the fragility of self — very sweet and yet provocative,” Avalon said about the play and its reading. “The music score designed by Howard Shangraw is the perfect compliment to the piece. This is going to be a very special night for ISIS.”
Ruhl is one of America’s most recognized contemporary playwrights. Since graduating from Brown University in 1997 and in 2001 with a masters in fine arts, she has written nearly a dozen plays and received a MacArthur Fellowship and the PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award. In 2010, she was a Pulitzer Prize for Drama finalist for her play, “In the Next Room,” as well as a Tony Award nominee.
The performance starts at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 2, at the Rainbow Inn. A reception precedes the performance at 7 p.m.
Tickets are $15 and are general admission. Tickets may be purchased at the door or online at www.isistheatrecompany.com.
For information call 951-692-9553, or log onto the website at www.isistheatrecompany.com.