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|SMC Farce "Hyperbole" Pokes Fun at the Creative Process|
By Michael Aushenker
April 27, 2011 -- Sometimes, comedy will come from an unlikely place, like a sleepy Italian restaurant on the west side of town.
Ask playwright Terrin Adair, a professor at Santa Monica College’s theater arts department.
“I was at a restaurant six months ago,” Adair told the Lookout Tuesday. “It’s a very small tiny restaurant with a lot of regulars. There was this young man writing on a laptop. A few times later, I approached him and we started talking.”
Adair got to know Peter, an aspiring screenwriter. The entire scenario provided the seed of inspiration for her farcical stage production, “Hyperbole.”
Written and directed by Adair, “Hyperbole” refers to the name of the restaurant in the play with a menu that highlights the dysfunctional relationships of the restaurant's infamous customers, warring family owners and inept screwball serving staff.
(Of course, Adair refuses to out the real-life counterpart restaurant.)
In “Hyperbole,” Peter is an actor taking classes for a community college and he has to write a one-act play.
“So he’s borrowing dialogue from other sources,” Adair said. “It’s really a funny, farce-y comedy,” continued Adair, who also gleaned inspiration from a conversation with her brother about her story idea, who remarked, ‘Oh, it’s the Peter Principle. Everyone rises to their level of incompetency.’”
“Certain portions of the play poke fun at well-known playwrights” said Adair.
Adair has been teaching at SMC since the early 1990s, providing instruction in every area of the theater arts department: acting, theatre history, a comedy workshop class, stage makeup and musical theater workshop and directing.
In the past, she has helmed productions of “Damn Yankees,” Neil Simon’s “Rumors,” and a children’s musical based on Hans Christian Andersen’s “Thumbelina,” and recently she staged “Frankenstein: A Re-Animation,” a one-act interpretation of Mary Shelley’s Gothic classic.
Adair initially had a different project in mind for this weekend’s student-acting showcase.
“Originally, I was going to do a ballroom dance comedy,” she said, “but there’s a lot of dance this year and our global theme this year is food.” Hence “Hyperbole.”
“I’ve written quite a few comedies, I’ve done a few musicals,” Adair said. “Plays are never finished, they’re just abandoned.”
Given the choice of writing her own stuff versus directing other people’s material, Adair said, “Both of them are great but what I love about this, I usually get the idea, then I write the character descriptions and certain scenes, and based on the talent that shows up and auditions, it could change the whole play.”
The process, for her, of creating original comedies is fluid.
“The students inspire the work,” said Adair. Rewriting to adapt to a specific student “really changes the work.”
“They’re doing a great job,” she said of her young actors. “It’s really fun. The students have a great time creating the roles with me.”
Ultimately, Adair intends “Hyperbole” to be all about the gags.
“I want them to come and enjoy and laugh and have a good time,” Adair said of this weekend’s attendees. “It’s a fun piece of farcical comedy. ‘Frankenstein’ was real serious, this one is really fun.”
“Hyperbole” has a cast of 20 Santa Monica College students––both experienced actors and newbies––and 14 crew members working behind the scenes.
The Santa Monica College Theatre Arts Department production runs this weekend only at the SMC Theatre Arts Studio Stage on the main campus at 1900 Pico Blvd.
Show times are Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 and 7 p.m. Tickets are $10. A $1-per-ticket service charge is added. There is no late seating.
For more information, call (310) 434-4319 or visit www.smc.edu/theatre. Parking is free on Friday evenings and weekends.
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