To get back to live theater, local venues have to stay afloat.
To that end, this weekend Theater Voices is slated to stream “Rogues’ Gallery” written by John Patrick Shanley to raise funds for its home base: Steamer No. 10 Theatre.
The company typically hosts four productions a year at the theatre, however, Theater Voices has been dark for more than a year because of the pandemic. Professional actress and director Yvonne Perry approached the theater troupe with the idea to produce “Rogues’ Gallery” earlier this year. She was interested in directing it not only because of the fundraising aspect but because of Shanely’s strengths as a storyteller.
“He wrote this during the pandemic, for actors to perform during the pandemic because he knew they couldn’t do scene work online yet they could really chew on a great character who has a great story to tell,” Perry said.
Shanley is known for his Oscar-winning screenplay for “Moonstruck,” and for “Doubt: A Parable,” which received a Tony Award. “Rogues’ Gallery” is a collection of ten monologues, some darkly comedic, others bizarre, and each created to allow theaters to easily produce it with COVID-19 safety protocols in place. Shanley has also said that all royalty fees will benefit The Actors Fund.
Once Perry received the go-ahead from Theater Voices’ board, rather than holding auditions, she selected ten professional actors and members of the Actors’ Equity Association, who she thought would be perfect for the roles. While some of them were tuning into rehearsals from as far afield as Puerto Rico, each has strong Capital Region ties and will be familiar to local audience members.
Acting in “Rogues’ Gallery” gave each of them “an opportunity to do what it is we’re trained to do,” Perry said.
“We’re trained in the very beginning to do monologues. We have to audition with monologues all the time, so working in monologues is definitely in the wheelhouse of any professional actor out there,” Perry said. “I really got lucky because I got really appropriate people to do each one of these stories.”
Along the way, there were certainly challenges in making the show come together, most of them technological. Some actors were more comfortable than others with recording their monologues. Editing the videos together was another obstacle.
“I have spent the pandemic teaching myself how to do basic editing, both visual and audio, in iMovie . . . It’s been a huge learning curve for me this year but that was part of the challenge that attracted me to the project and it was more of a challenge for some actors than others. But everyone stepped up to the plate in the best way that they knew how. That was delightful and I think everyone was learning stuff from it as well,” Perry said.
The production premieres on the Theater Voices’ YouTube channel at 8 p.m. Friday and will be available online through Monday, April 12 at midnight. It’s free to view but viewers are encouraged to donate to Steamer No. 10 Theatre in Albany.
When the Gazette spoke with Perry last week she was just finishing up some of the editing work on it and was impressed with the actors’ monologues.
“I’m full of gratitude but I’m not surprised because actors love what they do and they just want to be given the chance to do the thing that they love to do. If it, in turn, is helping a theater that encourages young people to embrace live theater as a lifelong joy, then all the better,” Perry said.
For more information visit Theater Voices on Facebook.