The Drama Group Teaches a Lesson with SEMINAR

by Ginger Agnew

Many adults enjoy taking a class. Writers are very likely to use continuing education to share ideas and find ways to improve their craft. SEMINAR portrays the living room based class four writers take together with an acclaimed writer/editor as teacher. SEMINAR takes many twists and turns while the personalities, and personal stories, of the students and their professor unfold. Classes don’t always have the outcome the student and teacher expect. SEMINAR explores the changes a class can bring about, even if not anticipated, for the participants and the instructor. When expectations are stripped away and what is left is raw and open, true storytelling begins.

Steven Roberson Butler opens the play as his character Douglas expounds upon his writing success, world travels, and important connections. Butler’s bombastic beginning morphs in and out of overbearing, making the steps toward self-discovery a great ride. Butler humanizes Douglas and makes him sympathetic. McKenzie Jones Clifford portrays Izzy as sexy but serious. Clifford makes sure that using her feminine wiles does not overshadow her character’s growth. Jackie Sherman creates Kate, a character full of snacks and surprises. Sherman is focused and fearless in her portrayal. Dante Zappala, as Leonard the professor, is the most unseemly of the characters in the story. Leonard is unnerving. Zappala stays strong and steady. Adam Corbett is Martin, the writer who refuses to share. Corbett is Woody Allen nervous, but brims with honesty. The dénouement belongs to Corbett who is struck with realizations which bring about quick character transition. Interactions between Corbett, Sherman, and Zappala at the play’s climax are dramatic, humorous, authentic, and surprising.

Scene transitions continue the action with music, lighting, and movement in silhouette. This creative touch enhances the subtext of the story and proves that storytelling is not just about speaking. There is a great deal to work with in the script and the actors make the most of character development, interactions, and relationships. The cast, creative team, and crew can feel proud of a job well done. Solid performances and clear intentions make SEMINAR an enjoyable, intriguing evening of theater.

by Theresa Rebeck
Directed by Marc C. Johnson
November 14 – 29, 2014
The Drama Group
Pilling Hall
The First United Methodist Church of Germantown
6001 Germantown Avenue
Philadelphia, PA

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