Black Box Theatre to open at StageDoor

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By Penny Randell

This Friday night, StageDoor Theatre celebrates its first performance in its newly created Black Box Theatre. This type of production is relatively new and is still considered experimental theatre. For StageDoor, it means a dark, separate room from the usual stage that doesn’t demand many props or set changes. The room, with its newly painted blue walls, seats about 45 people and is ideal for intimate staging that truly draws the audience inside.
Beginning Friday, the junior and senior company will be presenting three performances of Jules Feiffer’s play, “Feiffer’s People.” Feiffer is an American syndicated cartoonist and author who is considered the most widely read satirist in the country. His awards include a 1961 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film; a 1986 Pulitzer Prize as the leading editorial cartoonist and an induction into the Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2004. In addition, the Library of Congress has recognized his legacy, beginning in 1946 until present as a cartoonist, playwright and screenwriter.
Director Lee Sandblom says “This work of art is the perfect play for this type of venue and lends itself to rich creativity not usually seen on stage.”
The production is made up of brief sketches, monologues and playlets, which are particularly funny with keen reviews on the state of the union and the world. “The script provides full rein to the imagination in arranging and mounting the various excerpts that will be shaped by the actor.”
Even though the play was written in 1965, it still has entertaining relevance to today’s world. The original writing includes mention of TV blockbusters like “Gun Smoke” and people like Fred Astaire. Sandblom encouraged his cast of eighth- to 10th-graders to substitute yesterday’s fame with current shows and celebrities.
“Each sketch ranges from 45 seconds to two minutes. Those moments are well-developed and surprisingly relevant to today’s world,” said Sandblom.
It comes as a delightful surprise that this cast of nine is able to pull off such sophisticated humor. “I pretty much allowed every actor to create each character on his or her own. I encouraged them to go off and then come back with a finished piece,” said Sandblom.
It was the purposeful intent for StageDoor to produce a play with all parts being equal. Without the need for props and costume changes, the performance took shape as originally intended.
Sandblom knows kids. Originally from Wisconsin, he moved to Breckenridge the day before 9/11, met his wife while on stage and eventually moved to Brush. Today, he teaches seventh-grade science, which gives him an advantage with the performers he is directing.
“I’ve always had one foot in theatre and one in science. I’m passionate about theatre, but my brain loves science,” said Sandblom.
He teaches kids that life means a bit of struggle, and that the effort is worth it.
“This play is full of long lines and memorization. I’m overwhelmed with the talent I am working with,” said Sandblom.
There is no music and things are kept pretty simple, encouraging the audience to connect with each cast member. As a premier production of Black Box, “Feiffer’s People” is said to be exceptional.

“Feiffer’s People”
By StageDoor Theatre
Where: StageDoor Theatre, Conifer
When: Shows are Friday-Sunday at 7 p.m.
Tickets are $8