POGUE BON MOT
“The heart must bleed, not slobber.”
So what am I talking about that I can’t talk about? If you scroll down to a couple of blogs ago. You’ll see a letter I sent to the Editor of the local paper, The Lexington Herald-Leader, protesting a proposed 10% cut in the city’s contribution to the local Arts Funding League, LexArts. The letter also went to the Mayor, Vice-Mayor, and everyone on the Urban Council. My letter was published in last Sunday’s edition.
I don’t know if my going to bat for LexArts had any influence in swaying the decision, but they didn’t get a funding cut. Then...
So I’m sure folks are rushing here, thinking: Blowhard Pogue has an opinion about everything, he’ll certainly have one about this!
Sorry, I’m keeping my opinions to myself. The AGL Board will absorb this, deal with the matter, and respond. Right now I’m only a reporter. You can find the details here.
Instead, I reproduce here a slightly revised (updated) appeal letter (an earlier draft that had to be winnowed down to one page) that I wrote for Actors Guild last year. If odd bits sound vaguely familiar, it's because I’m a great recycler of what I deem my own well-turned phrases when the need arises.
But it expresses why I believe Actors Guild is a success…a theatre worth supporting and an asset to its community.
Hello. My name is Charles Edward Pogue. I’m a screenwriter. Maybe you’ve seen some of my movies: THE FLY, DRAGONHEART, DOA, PSYCHO III, HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES, among others…
I am also a native Kentuckian…
…My ancestors helped settle the state with Dan’l Boone, they fought at Blue Licks, built cabins at Fort Harrod; I grew up in Northern Kentucky and studied Theatre Arts at UK. Years later, I was awarded the first Distinguished Alumni Award from UK’s College of Fine Arts.
In 2005, after nearly thirty years in Hollywood, I moved home to Kentucky, settling in the Bluegrass and returning to my first love theatre. I was invited to join the board of Actors Guild of Lexington by its Artistic Director, Richard St. Peter. I did so; I have also been privileged to write and act with this innovative theatre company
Under Richard’s vision, I’ve witnessed a wonderful transformation at AGL. The quality of performances became elevated, with our best local actors sharing the stage with artists of regional and national reputation. The palette of plays broadened in scope, embracing both new writing and the great international repertoire of standard and classic plays.
We’ve forged ties with other professional theatres and institutions across the country; giving us a presence nationwide and establishing a strong theatrical networking community not only in the United States with such entities as The Theatre Communications Group and Actors Equity, but also abroad with universities like Rose Bruford College in England. As well as employing established artists, we have nurtured exciting young local talent in the fields of performance, directing, and theatrical design.
To critical acclaim, we initiated Summer Shakespeare at Equus Run Winery—a pastoral setting which restores an intimate simplicity of performance to the Bard and his exquisite language. We created original work locally that has gained wider recognition such as my own adaptation of TARTUFFE which has also been performed in San Francisco and Mr. St. Peter’s dynamic production of HAMLET, featured in AMERICAN THEATRE magazine, which was remounted in North Carolina this January, starring local actor, Adam Luckey. This spring we premiered a commissioned play, LONG TIME TRAVELLING, from the pen of respected Kentucky writer, Silas House. This summer, Mr. St. Peter will direct Brian Hampton’s CHECKING IN, in New York, a play that originated at AGL. Local actress Allie Darden will re-create her original role.
Even before I returned home, I longed to see professional theatre thrive in Central Kentucky. AGL is making this dream a reality.
During my extensive career, I’ve been fortunate to work with renowned artists and enjoy many exciting experiences. None have been more exciting than confronting AGL’s daily challenges as we strive to attain Actors Equity “small professional theatre” status. My enthusiasm is continually charged by the artistic energy and electrifying ideas that crackle in the air of AGL’s ambitions.
I’m impressed by the achievements (often under onerous conditions) that Actors Guild has made in the few short years that I’ve been back and Mr. St. Peter has been here. But AGL’s work is not done.
Every professional theatre struggles for money and support. America’s current fiscally imperiled times have not made those struggles easier. We hear much about city infrastructures, attracting businesses and young professionals and keeping the businesses and young professionals that we already have. But I know of no thriving first-class city that does not also have a thriving professional arts scene. A culturally rich city is an attraction for both visitors and the community.
Actors Guild’s goal is, I think, part of Lexington’s goal: To provide live professional theatre that engages, entertains, and enriches the quality of the life for its citizens; and to be a vibrant artistic presence of which a vibrant city can be proud.
I encourage you to visit us at Actors Guild and see for yourself the work we do and why we have been called Lexington’s “flagship theatre.”. If you’ve been an AGL supporter in the past and, for whatever reason, became disillusioned, I ask you to re-visit us. If you’ve never come to AGL, now is the time. If you are an arts lover, now is also the time to be generous with your support. Attend a performance, become a season pass-card holder, make a significant donation.
The theatre is about Life and Dreams. Come share the Dream that I and others hold for AGL’s future and help give it Life.
Hoping to see you at the theatre in the coming year and for many years to come,
Charles Edward Pogue
WHAT’S BEING SAID ABOUT ACTORS GUILD…
“AGL has grown into the area’s flagship theater…” -Rich Copley, LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER
“Why more of the press isn’t leaping at the chance to sing the praises of a truly professional actors group is beyond me… -E. Slate Williams, NOUGAT MAGAZINE
“Rick St. Peter, the director of the play, has been incredibly patient with me and given me so much artistic freedom with the play. When he approached me about doing a play for them, he allowed me a blank slate, which is the most important thing you can give to a writer. Everyone at AGL has been incredibly supportive and focused on making the best piece of art we can make.”
-Award-winning Kentucky novelist, Silas House, on working at AGL for the world premiere of his play, LONG-TIME TRAVELLING
WHAT’S BEING SAID ABOUT AGL'S PRODUCTIONS…
“In fact, the whole show is a scream…rich with witty lines…I suggest everyone see…Underpants over and over again”. – Candance Chaney, LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER
“I recently took in the play “The Underpants”…performed by The Actors’ Guild of Lexington. It was remarkable!...The six-person cast was truly amazing…a comparison of local artists vs. traditional traveling productions could be compared to McDonalds and Malone’s. Both make beef. One is local and one is global. Anyone who has sampled both knows which one is better. Both will provide nourishment, but only one tastes gooooodd…go support our guys: Actors Guild of Lexington! I promise you won’t leave hungry. -E. Slate Williams, NOUGAT MAGAZINE
“…A FANTASTIC CAST AND A FIRST-RATE ADAPTATION…The infamous ‘table scene’…had the audience in stitches…this ambitious production proves it point… -Candace Chaney, Lexington Herald-Leader
“…A TOUR DE FORCE FOR AGL…What is most alluring about this show is that the cast and crew successfully execute a radical vision with restraint and balance…With its blend of modern elements and ageless themes, it feels like an altogether new kind of theater.”
-Candace Chaney, LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER
ACTORS GUILD PRESENTS SHAKESPEARE AT EQUUS RUN
“In fact, everything about this debut production seems to indicate a deliberate commitment to getting out of the way and letting Shakespeare be Shakespeare in all its simple elegance. That kind of artistic integrity is laudable and refreshing, but what’s more, it’s definitely worth the drive.”
-Candace Chaney, LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER
“AGL’S ‘Boston Marriage’ triumphs in its playwright’s and actresses’ talents…a finely executed comedy that offers something for everyone.” -Candace Chaney, LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER
“…this show’s fertile material and top-notch performances provide a memorable evening of entertainment, intellectual acuity, and meaningful romance. So rich is its offerings that you could attend every performance and discover new, wildly sophisticated, almost mind-blowing ideas and implications.” -Candace Chaney, LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER
“I saw a production of MOONLIGHT & MAGNOLIAS…in Los Angeles, a few months ago, and I really liked the cast here in Lexington better. And I thought the direction was top-notch.” - F. Kathleen Foley, LOS ANGELES TIMES
“Actors Guild puts brave new spin on musical standby…The concept is imaginative and benefits from charming performances by new and old local stage favorites.” -Rich Copley, LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER
“Comic tour de force” – Candace Chaney, LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER
LONG TIME TRAVELING
“ ‘Travelling’ brilliantly captures poetry of Appalachian language, life…Actors Guild is wrapping up its 25th anniversary season in style…” – Candace Chaney, LEXINGTOM HERALD-LEADER
WHAT’S BEING SAID ABOUT OUR ARTISTS
“…keep an eye on Hayley Williams, a soon-to-be rising star whose talent is only eclipsed by her beauty…”
“Director Bo List deserves kudos for his keen-in-the round direction…and sense of comic timing."
“…lighting designer Gip Gibson’s use of contrast between darkened ‘dreamy’ moments and the bright lights of reality is striking.”
“TARTUFFE PERFORMANCES STELLAR”
“Tartuffe, deliciously played by Scott Wichman…packs a powerful hypocrisy-soaked punch…”
“Missy Johnston…balances restrained elegance with a penchant for comic timing.”
“Laura Blake as the saucey, sharp-tongued maid… has a refreshing air of naturalness…that lights up the stage.
“Charles Edward Pogue penned the adaptation of this Moliere classic…Pogue’s language sparkles with color and is ripe with clever crispness, making versatile leaps from theological discourse to the basest of juicy double-entendre. The ensemble cast proves more than up to the task of its delivery…”
“Eric Seale…as the flamboyant Don Armado…, with his thick-as-mud Spanish accent, exaggerated flourishes, absurd swashbuckling mannerisms, and keen sense of timing made him an audience favourite…"
“Director Anthony R. Haigh has assembled a strong, experienced cast that includes many of Lexington’s best talent…”
“Adam Luckey is clearly at home in his role.”
“[Nelson]Fields’ detailed Renaissance costumes function to beautifully evoke period and tone of the play.”
“Director Richard St. Peter’s gutsy move to set this classical play ‘anytime, anywhere’ pays off, largely due to the cohesion of a keenly devised vision and its refreshingly innovative, well-executed presentation.”
“Everyone knew Adam Luckey would be a good Hamlet. Turns out, he is much more than good, he is phenomenal.”
“One delightful surprise of this production is the discovery of Jack Parrish, a professional actor and recent Lexington transplant…More Jack Parrish, please.”
“With multimedia, sound, lighting, set and costume designers, and even a cinematographer, this show’s many technicians deserves kudos that successfully draws audience and actors alike into a spooky, all too real, yet surreal emotional and political landscape.’
“Chris Rose turns in an absurdly satisfying performance.”
“Tim X. Davis relishes in a thick accent as well delivered as the cast’s ensemble comic timing.”
“Gina Scott-Lynaugh is pure mischief and mirth.”
“John B. Lynaugh is equally enchanting, wielding his lines with much panache and wry humour.”
“A nice surprise is newcomer Kevin Greer…”
“Another rare treat is Maureen Gallagher-Kuehler.”
“[Julieanne] Pogue and [Gina] Scott-Lynaugh are in excellent command of the play’s richly stylized language.”
Laura Blake freshly exemplifies sheer charm…her curt appearances inject vital bursts of coarse humor and sympathy.”
“[Julieanne]Pogue seems particularly adept at wielding an arsenal of multisyllabic Latin derivations. One gets the feeling she talks like that all the time. One also got that feeling when she played a heavily accented megalomaniac male artist in last season’s ‘Anton in Show Business’. Both roles are a testament to her talent and flexibility.”
“Director Ave Lawyer and cast deserve praise for a job thoroughly well done.”
“The number of talented cast members are too great to account for individually, but one enjoyable hallmark of this show is its debut of Rebecca Pearcy…refreshingly animate, earnest, and bright…And naturally, she wins the prize for best British accent, seeing as she is, well, British.”
AGL designers David Probus and Tommy Gatton do a lovely job framing Eric Seale’s set design in lighting and sound.”
“[Walter] May, [Charles Edward]Pogue, and [Eric] Johnson, all seasoned, accomplished actors are excellent casting choices…The trio seem at home playing legendary Hollywood figures. Somehow they manage to ground their larger-than-life characters into fascinatingly flawed mortals.”
“Rising star, Cameron Perry,…and local stage favorite, Carmen Geraci,…deliver warm performances.”
“If ever a lighting designer has made a show in this area work, David Probus has a masterpiece with this production.”
“[Rick]St. Peter, along with Eric Seale and Scott Sherman, collaborated to design the set…one of the productions most evocative technical features and artistic triumphs…”
“[Leslie] Beatty’s performance…is a tour de force of smart comedy and veiled pathos delivered with wry panache and plain ol’ ‘chops’.”
“The casting is amazing.”
“Missy Johnston, brilliant.”
WORDS OF THEATRICAL WISDOM