“Ampersand” Opens Tonight!

Directors’ Note: Ampersand by Vincent Delaney

by Actors’ Theatre Grand Rapids on Monday, March 19, 2012 at 2:12pm ·

Note:  The following Director’s note was written for the playbill for “Ampersand”, a new play by Vincent Delaney, opening at Actors’ Theatre on March 22, 2012.  More than that, production Director and Actors’ Literary Manager Randy Wyatt does a masterful job of articulating what makes producing new works such an exhilarating and important part of our mission.  Enjoy!

Randy Wyatt - Director, Ampersand | Literary Manager, Actors' Theatre Grand Rapids | Theatre Program Director, Aquinas College

Directing new work is exhilarating.  A new production of published work always has new possibilities, but it’s charted territory—at least one other production team has tackled it already.  There can be “baggage” attached, especially if the play is well known or already produced on Broadway or in regional theatres.  There’s a way it’s been done before, and it can be tempting to think there’s a “right” way to approach it.  With new work, the script is fluid, not fixed.  The playwright, director, actors and designers have to lean on each other for discoveries even harder than usual.  It’s scary but incredible too, like jumping out of a plane.  And the audience gets to experience something no one else has before.

Never fear– you’re in good hands tonight.  Vince’s work leaps off the page when I read it.  It crackles, it’s sardonic and strange, darkly wise, truthful in the way that wanting to clone your spouse to make a better marriage is truthful.  This is my second collaboration with Vince and the rehearsal process has been just as full of discovery and fun as my first go-round with his WRITER 1272 at Aquinas.  He’s a funny guy, but his work isn’t going to let you laugh without gut-punching you.  It’s fun but dangerous.  My kind of theatre.

I often harangue my students about how much I believe in the vitality of theatre.  The evolution and production of new work is what keeps it vital.  Rather than catch plays “on the way down”—that is , after they’ve had major productions and publications, Actor’s Theatre has chosen to be one of those theatres that catch them “on the way up”.  That’s an important distinction.  Just this last week we learned that AMPERSAND has won the prestigious Riva Shiner Comedy Award.  People are starting to notice this play, and Actors’ produced it first.


– Randy Wyatt

Tickets are still available for opening night!  Go to www.atgr.org to order your tickets.

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