Local Video Theatre Spotlight Series: American Legacy Theatre
by Liz Eichler
Discover American Legacy Theatreâ€™s Free and Compelling â€œHome Theatreâ€
Everyone has a storyâ€”it could be an unusual thing that happened to you, or it could be how your character shines in everyday circumstances. American Legacy Theatre is celebrating those stories.
One of Cincinnatiâ€™s newest theatre companies, headed by Matthew David Gellin, American Legacy Theatreâ€™s mission is to create â€œfully accessible experiences for all people so they have a voice in creating a better society through theater.â€ Each storyÂ in A.L.T.â€™s â€œHome Theatreâ€ series is a compelling 45-minute or so journey by a solo artist. The artist interviews a real person to hear his or her story, then applies elements of drama (structure, dialogue, spectacle, or even music) and–in a week or less–spins them into a live performance, recorded for future audiences.Â
Start with â€œWanted,â€ currently one of the strongest in the series, filmed live April 2021. Inspired by an interview with aÂ woman named Tasha, Peyton McCormick takes us on a compelling journey of a determined young influencer, a house rehab project, and ghosts. McCormick wrote, designed, and filmed the show in a weekâ€”so there is a raw-ness and vulnerability in this theatrical process which makes it memorable. The actress films herself as she gives her first performance, capturing a realness in the hand-held technique.Â At times she addresses the audience, at other times we feel like we are privy to a private conversation in a combination of live social media with a touch of â€œBlair Witch Projectâ€ POV. Her camera also captures the house as another character, with stained wooden floors, exposed beam ceilings and built-ins, elevating this tale. Riveting and entertaining, even a the small screen. McCormickâ€™s character shows a perkiness, warmth, and strength of soul.
â€œAs Told by Loisâ€ written and featuring Kennen Butler, performed and recorded on March 13, 2021 has some laugh out loud moments. Cheerful retirement home resident Lois has wine with her friends sharing stories of her life. She had a â€œcharmed life, but she did it her wayâ€â€” from the days of segregation to experiences she shared with her husband Phil. She is interrupted by phone calls: scammers, friends or family, providing more evidence that 87-year old Lois is feisty, loving, gracious and charming. One of my favorite mom-isms is put to musicâ€”â€œMarry a Nerdâ€ (which I heard occasionally as â€œMarry a Nurseâ€â€”also good advice). Butlerâ€™s storytelling is as comfortable as your favorite slipper, “As Told by Lois” is an entertaining story with musical accompaniment, and a powerful ending.
â€œTiffanyâ€™s Tale,â€ written by & featuring Ashlyn Porter (performed and recorded on January 30, 2021) is the story of Tiffany, who has an advice podcast, and the character re-enacts the source of her advice. We see that she stood in the shoes of the person asking the question, and crafts an answer with empathy.
â€œMoe in the Cityâ€ written and performed by Peyton McCormick (January 30, 2021) Is an up close and personal relationship with Moe the Sloth (loosely based on a friend at your favorite zoo) and keeper, James, who head to the Bronx Zoo to find a mate. This is fun and silly, but McCormick is an adorable chameleon, switching between characters with the speed of a cheetah.
Also in the Home Theatre Library are â€œBlack Paradeâ€ written by and featuring Kennen Butler and â€œDorothyâ€™s Storyâ€ a tale about motherhood, is written by and featuring Tyler Dobies. A.L.T. plans to keep building this Home Theatre library and is actively seeking individuals with great personal stories for their team to develop.
Cincinnati is the center of many of the stories. Some may be moving onto a longer script, so itâ€™s always fun to see works in progress.
If you love monologues, one-person shows, participated in Speech and Debate Dramatic Interp in high school, or just want to explore some new performers and a powerful way to share stories in an intimate setting, go to https://www.americanlegacytheatre.org/home-theatre-library. Or, if you donâ€™t think theatre is for youâ€”because what you will find is stories, told with honesty and structure.
The stories are free for all to access and consume. If you have a story youâ€™d like to commission, A.L.T. funders are underwriting those at or below 200% Federal Poverty Levels. All others, are paying a commission fee.
About this series: During the lockdowns, Americanâ€™s turned to the arts and the streaming stories on Netflix, Hulu, Disney + and more growing the market up to 37%. Local theatre artists have turned to streaming their work, too, with all the dramatic elements and local performers you know and love, but accessible in your living room on your devices. Budgets may not match â€œBridgertonâ€ but many are compelling and a great way to spend an hour or two. This is the first in a series on how some of the League of Cincinnati Theaters member companies persisted and grew during the Great Pause and how you can access their work.
Liz Eichler, MTA, MBA has served LCT since 2011, and is past president and co-chair of Stage Insights. She has been an arts marketer in NJ, DE, IN, SC and OH and has owned her own costuming business. She currently teaches marketing at University of Dayton.