MBTA Inspires Competitive Theater Project

8/11/2011

Kristin Baker, director of the Performing Arts Office, is on a mission.

It is mid-morning on an August Saturday, and Baker is riding the MBTA’s “88” bus from Lechmere Station in Cambridge to the Clarendon Hill section of Somerville several times, “looking for inspiration.”

Baker’s two-hour journey is part of a locally competitive theater event, “The T Plays.” This third annual showcase, sponsored by the Mill 6 Collaborative, unites actors, directors and writers from the Boston scene, who share their talents through a 10-minute play based on an MBTA ride.

Fast-paced collaboration

“From beginning to end, this is an incredibly fun event that brings different sections of the local theater community together,” said Baker. “It’s also a celebration of the Boston community; riding the MBTA is a big part of the Boston experience.”

On the night before her bus ride, Baker, along with actors, directors and other writers from the Boston area, met at Doyle’s Cafe in Jamaica Plain to choose teams by pulling names out of a hat.

T as inspiration

Each writer was given an assigned T route to ride from start to finish and back again. The ride would provide inspiration for a 10-minute play. The writers e-mailed their completed scripts to the team directors that same day, in time for a 6 p.m. meeting of all seven groups for a first read-through.

“That night was so much fun, because the actors had never seen the scripts before,” said Baker. “And the interesting thing is the many different inspirations that the writers came up with to create their plays.”

Baker’s inspirational tale was created by looking at the good and bad things that happen at popular stops along her bus route such as Cambridge Courthouse, Somerville City Hall, Somerville Hospital and Somerville High School.

“For example, at the high school, you have academic excellence and the pain of adolescence,” said Baker. “And at the hospital, you have the birth of a baby and the death of a loved one. An entire life involving people of all ages and situations was on that bus line.”

Angels and demons

Baker’s play had four short scenes and was centered on two actors – one playing an angel and the other playing a demon.

“They meet on the bus for the first time, and they are from two different worlds,” she said. “They then get to know each other a little bit, break up for awhile, and, in the end, get back together again. It’s a love story, but instead of boy meets girls, its angel meets demon.”

Baker is not the only Suffolk University talent involved in “The T Plays” competition. Brian Bernhard, a rising sophomore at Suffolk, along with Suffolk alumnae Lindsay Eagle (2010) and Greer Rooney (2007), are participating as actors, while Performing Arts coordinator Brian Janey is the production stage manager.

Performances

“The T Plays III” runs from Aug. 10 thru 20 at The Factory Theatre, 791 Tremont St., Boston. All of the teams will perform each evening, and audience members will be asked to vote for their favorite group.

The winner will be announced on the Mill 6 Collaborative Web site following the Aug. 20 performance.

There is no prize money, expensive trip or shining trophy awarded to the winning group. “But the winning team does get bragging rights.” said Baker, with a laugh.

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