Perfectly timed for lovers young and old this Valentine’s Day, the Appalachian Theatre of the High Country (ATHC) is hosting a local production of the award-winning play “Love Letters” for a single performance at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, February 14 at the Art Deco landmark in Boone. Tickets are affordably-priced at $15 each with reserved seating available for general public purchase beginning Wednesday, January 29th.
The production was runner-up for the 1990 Pulitzer Prize in Drama and chronicles a fifty year relationship that took place from 1937 to 1987. The play stars local actors Dr. Gina L. Grandi and Dr. Derek Davidson, both of whom are faculty members in the Department of Theatre and Dance at Appalachian State University. The play is directed by Keith Martin, Distinguished Professor of Theatre at the university, who also serves as vice chair of the Appalachian Theatre’s Board of Trustees.
In this wry and poignant tale told entirely through a half-century of letters, playwright A. R. Gurney has created “an exquisite jewel of a play,” hailed as “one of the four or five best American plays of the decade,” said Time magazine.
From their first scrawled valentines of childhood to the last guilty goodbye, the letters exchanged between Melissa Gardner and Andrew Makepeace Ladd III envelop us in a unique nostalgia. While the images they create bring back youth’s universal innocence, fears and fancies, they further reveal themselves, their goals and their dreams of a “love affair” that takes them from grade school through middle age.
As they ponder opportunity lost and love squandered, we see the very essence of their life long relationship… all in the letters that were at its very root.
ATHC Executive Director Laura Kratt said, “This staged reading featuring well-known local talent is the perfect Valentine’s Day date night and a great way to support the theatre,” noting that proceeds from the event will benefit local programming by High Country performing arts organizations who use the venue.
Grandi specializes in theatre education and was a public school teacher in San Francisco before moving to New York to toil valiantly in the non-profit arts education world. She is the founder and artistic director of The Bechdel Group, a theatre company dedicated to promoting writers who write for women, and is the editor of a series of new ten minute plays created through the company. Her short fiction has been featured in Cicada, Apex Magazine, Gold Fever Press and 100wordstory.org. She is also a dramaturg and artistic associate for NYU’s New Plays for Young Audience series.
Davidson teaches playwriting, theatre history, and dramatic literature at Appalachian, and is Artistic Director of Boone’s In/Visible Theatre. He was an Associate Artistic Director for the Barter Theatre and Coordinator for their Appalachian Festival of Plays and Playwrights. A professional director and Equity actor, Davidson directed the award-winning independent feature film This is Not the South, and his play Bumbershoot premiered at the New York International Fringe Festival. He received commissions from An Appalachian Summer Festival for his works Mauzy and Without Words, and Furrow, his most recent solo piece, was presented last October as part of a New Works Festival in NYC.
The artists stated that “Love Letters” is a rare opportunity to “play” together in a creative capacity beyond their respective roles in our work as faculty colleagues at the university. Grandi said that they are delighted to debut on the stage of the Appalachian Theatre after following its renovations and restoration progress for the last several years. “It’s refreshing to have a tender play with a softer, gentler voice in 2020,” said Davidson. Martin added, “it is a perfect choice of material for the intimate venue that is the Appalachian Theatre.”
Tickets are available 24/7 online at www.apptheatre.org and during box office hours at the theatre for in person and phone sales at (828) 865-3000. The theatre’s onsite box office hours are from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays and one hour prior to each curtain, should tickets remain available. The Appalachian Theatre is located at 559 West King Street in uptown Boone, NC next to Boone Town Hall. “Love Letters” is produced by special arrangement with Dramatists Play Service, Inc.
To learn more about the Appalachian Theatre of the High Country, sign up for their mailing list, participate in their “Take-A-Seat” campaign, or to contribute to the annual fund, visit their website at www.apptheatre.org.