June 28, 2010 § Leave a comment
Take heed, friends! I think you’ll agree that this town doesn’t have enough “Civil War comedy.” Well hold on to your kepi, because this extremely funny period piece, directed by Jeff Award-winning Second City star Amanda Blake Davis, is going to change all that.
Full of comedy, tragedy and everything in between, Shoot Faster, Dear Brother, I’m Dying! takes a hilarious look at the lives of two brothers at the end of the American Civil War, told through the letters they wrote one another. As Chauncy Binjimmons ends his service for the Confederacy and heads west, his brother Adam navigates the pressures of family life at their childhood home in Virginia. But who are these brothers? It is in the letters, the glorious letters, that the true excitement is found. For it is in these letters that a small boy grows up to lead a savage nation. It is in these letters that the mysterious comings and goings of Adam and Chauncy’s father are finally exposed. And it is in these letters where the brothers’ raucous adventure, sleazy love, and nearly accidental triumph are finally revealed.
“It started with a weird email from Demian,” explained Anderson. “Out of the blue I got an email talking about how ‘The congregation prays for your safe return.’ and ‘Write with news about the war.’ So I just decided to write back, following his lead stylistically, and this correspondence continued for about six months. Finally after receiving a particularly funny letter from Demian, I called him, somewhat panicked and asked, ‘Have you been saving your emails?! I think we might have a show here…or a book…or both!’ He had been thinking the same thing and fortunately saved all of his emails as well.”
Over the next decade, between projects, Anderson and Krentz continually returned to the letters, fine-tuning the story and characters. Finally, the two believed their unique conversation was ready to be brought to life.
“We were pretty sure it was really funny,” Krentz recalled, “but we weren’t positive. There’s not exactly a lot of Civil War comedies to compare it to. So, we scheduled a one-night preview performance at a theater in Grand Rapids, Michigan and the response to the play was overwhelming. Joe and I went backstage at intermission and just looked at each other and started smiling and laughing. It was a wonderful relief to know our comedic senses had been tingling for a reason.”
A friend of Krentz’ got the script to Amanda Blake Davis, a Jeff Award-winning actress and accomplished writer and director in Chicago. Davis read the play, loved it and told Demian that if he ever wanted to stage it in Chicago, she’d like to direct.
Now the Apollo Theater Studio is the lucky recipient of this historically inaccurate play’s world premiere, in which mustaches, hand-written letters, and old-timeyness abound. Chicago theatergoers who have long clamored for an epistolary comedy about the Civil War, featuring a live fiddle player and photos of old things will finally be able to check that item off of their collective bucket lists.
Reflecting on the play’s creative journey, Anderson mused, “That first email, word for word, with the exception of perhaps a phrase here or there, is the first scene in the play.”
Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays @ 8pm, July 8 – July 31, 2010.
The Apollo Theater Studio, 2540 N Lincoln Ave (2 blocks north of Fullerton), Chicago, IL 60614.
Tickets are $15 for adults and $11 for students & seniors, and will be available at 773.935.6100 or ApolloChicago.com.
For more information, visit ShootFaster.com.