Alone on stage

September 10, 2009
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A full house greeted Butler University visiting artist Tim Hardy for the first of a two-show-only stint in Nick Young’s one-man play “Galileo” (Sept. 9-10). It wasn’t just the size of the audience and the quality of the performance that I found inspiring. It was also the presence of a number of local actors and other creative types in the crowd.

Seeing this level of excellent work can be intimidating, but I hope that it also proves inspiring. Hardy—a faculty member of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art who appeared in such landmark productions as Peter Brook’s “Marat/Sade” and Peter Hall’s “Henry V”—created a weary, funny, sad Galileo angry at himself for misjudging the forces against him.

His explanation of the power of the rack as a torture device effectively painted a flesh-and-blood picture of the consequences of his alleged heresy. It brought humanity to his brilliance, taking this from history lesson to a strong evening of theater.

Even though you are too late to catch this one, the '09/'10 Indy theater season will feature other one-person shows. Such presentations raise a number of questions that I thought I'd bounce off you:

Do you feel that these minimalist shows -- the IRT is presenting three of them later in the season -- should have the same ticket price as fuller-cast productions?

John Leguizamo recently tried out his new one-man show here. Mike Bribiglia, who scored an off-Broadway hit with his "Sleepwalk With Me" will be in town next week. What is the line between a stand-up act and a one-person play?

Indy Fringe and Storytelling Arts have presented many one-person monologists locally. Is storytelling the same as theater?

Your thoughts?

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  • It's Birbiglia. I saw "Sleepwalk with Me," and it was very entertaining, but definitely straddled the thin line between stand-up and "theatre." I also saw Lily Tomlin's revival of "The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe," and that was most definitely a PLAY. I think the difference may be in the way a show is shaped. I did not see "The Year of Magical Thinking," but that struck me as a stupid idea for a one-person show. I see no reason why the tickets should be cheaper for a play with only one person in the cast, although it is very obvious that theatres stage these (especially IRT) to save money.

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