The Common Swallow
By: Jeannette de Beauvoir, September 30, 2011
It’s the image of the bridge that’s the most startling, the one that stays with you long after the actors in The Common Swallow have taken their last bow.
The bridge is the stage set, but it’s also a metaphor for many of the issues raised in David Caudle’s play, produced by Counter Productions and showing this week at Provincetown’s Town Hall.
Multiple story lines intersect and weave around each other, sometimes even literally and physically on the stage. The setting is an unnamed town in the Midwest, but it really could be any town in the United States, sheltering both those who rise above its imperfections and those who embrace them.
David Caudle, whom I interviewed on my radio show, Arts Week, when The Common Swallow was part of the Cape Rep’s winter reading series, said the Midwestern setting stuck in his mind during a writing workshop in Indiana.
“I worried about how people were losing a sense of community,” he said, due to drugs, the disappearance of mom-and-pop stores, and a general disintegration of what made the Midwest so quintessentially American.
And so he wrote about lives fragmented by change: a woman returning after time in New York City, her slacker brother who has dreams but can’t quite get them off the ground, the police officer who still mourns the mining destruction in his native Kentucky, the gay son who cannot get past his drug use to form connections with others, and the odd little woman who talks to swallows and brings a different kind of love into the equation.
Fall means theater in P-town
The Common Swallow isn’t in Provincetown by accident. Fall has become the time for new plays to have readings, to be tried out, tinkered with, and adjusted. Audience reactions are watched. Cast members sit with playwrights and discuss their experiences.
The Fall Playwrights’ Festival, readings in various venues, Counter Productions’ own new black box theater, and the Tennessee Williams Theater Festival all show that Provincetown is regaining its past as a place for new ideas, new expressions, and new theatrical experiments.
The Common Swallow’s next stop is off-Broadway, so Provincetown can’t be too far off in the talent it chooses to nurture!
Assisting well-known names from local theater—including Ethan Paulini, Suni Pope, Sean Maddox, Angela Howell, and Justin Campbell—is Broadway star and film actor Annie Golden, who has starred in the stage and film versions of Hair!, was on Broadway in Leader of the Pack, Ah, Wilderness!, On The Town, and The Full Monty.
Playwright David Caudle wrote the role of free-spirit Corinthia especially for Golden, who beautifully conveys the innocence and wonder of that character.
And that’s how the audience is left, too, with her smile of wonder at the birds, her balloon clasped in her hand, and the boy she chooses to befriend close by her side.
The Common Swallow
Showing September 30 and October 1 at 8 PM with an additional 2 PM performance on October 1
Provincetown Town Hall