David Mannix plays Arthur Stein in Ashland Contemporary Theatre’s production of the comedy “End Days,” which opens Friday, April 29, at the Bellview Grange in Ashland. I had the pleasure of directing the production.
David and I visited one rainy afternoon as the props and set were being loaded into the newly reopened Grange building.
A former stockbroker and lawyer, Mannix is on the board and artistic committee for Barnstormers Theater in Grants Pass.
DM: Grants Pass has a surprisingly strong theater community. Barnstormers is the oldest continually operating community theater in the state of Oregon. It started in 1952. It is community theater. Nobody is making a living out of the theater, except for those doing all those unglamorous things such as bookkeeping. We do have several part-time paid employees or contractors. We don’t pick plays; we look for directors who want to pitch a play that they are in love with and want to do. I think it works pretty well.
Paul Jones is directing “Crimes of the Heart,” the last production in Camelot Theatre’s current building. Within the last two years, Jones has played Nixon in Camelot’s “Frost Nixon,” Marley’s Ghost in Oregon Stage Works’ “The Christmas Carol,” and Lt. Col. Matthew Markinson in Camelot’s “A Few Good Men.” We chatted over coffee at The Coffee House at Bloomsbury Books.
EH: Why do you think “Crimes of the Heart” won a Pulitzer Prize?
PJ: The play doesn’t bring up any earth-shattering world issues, but it hits people in unexpected places. The appeal is very human, people handling their problems, which to them are monsters, nothing to do with earthquakes, or tsunamis, or the threat of the A-bomb.
It’s about three sisters struggling with making the wrong decisions, listening to their fears, being too logical, or just jumping into something without asking the heart, “Is this what I really want to do?” and then not listening. Those are the crimes.
It’s comical, desperate and pathetic. You find yourself being drawn in with the characters, the traumas that they’re dealing with, and living their lives. It is so well-written, it just plays itself; it flows so beautifully. It’s enormously funny, but underneath are all those layers of what is going on with those people. The audience will find themselves crying and laughing at the same time.