AMERIKA by Aden Ross, directed by Jerry Rapier. Presented by Plan-B at Tarragon Extra Space (30 Bridgman). July 7 at 7 pm, July 9 at 3:30 pm, July 10 at 10:30 pm, July 11 at 8:30, July 12 at 12:15 pm, July 14 at 4 pm, July 15 at 10:30 pm. Rating: NNNNN
Imagine broadcasting your liberal message in the conservative heartland of the United States. That's what Plan-B Theatre 's been doing in Salt Lake City, Utah, most recently with their hit show Amerika, in which three strangers find themselves incarcerated by unknown jailers.
"The play has proven a release and a relief to our audience in the reddest of red states," says director Jerry Rapier . "You can't get more conservative than Utah, where there's still this grey area between Church and state."
Under the guidance of Rapier, who also teaches gay and lesbian theatre, Plan-B is the only overtly political company in the community, with a small but devoted audience.
Amerika's characters are a liberal librarian from Seattle, a military supply contractor from Chicago and a religious housewife from Topeka. Thrown together for reasons they can't understand, each is distrustful of the other two.
The trick for playwright Aden Ross was not to turn them into stereotypes, but, rather, into characters we care about. She had the hardest time with Rita, the housewife.
"It was important not to make Rita a fanatic. She turns out to be someone who has an answer - not necessarily a religious answer - about how to move the characters from their initially extreme positions to a middle ground where they can communicate with each other."
Amerika speaks to the concerns of many people south of the border, notes Rapier.
"To a lot of us, our country is unrecognizable right now. There's a fear of speaking out, of using our own voices, of exercising our freedoms. Aden feels the same way, and this play is her response."