Play performances spark political discussion

UPPER JAY - A local theatre troupe is adding a unique purpose to their performances.

The Book and Blanket Players of Upper Jay have partnered with the Adirondack Democracy to perform "Mrs. Farnsworth," a comedic play with political overtones.

The play has six performances at three different venues: Sept. 3 and 4 at BluSeed Studios in Saranac Lake, Sept. 10 and 11 at the Old Mill Art Studio in Elizabethtown, and Sept. 16 and 17 at Hawkins Hall, SUNY Plattsburgh.

Fred Balzac is co-founder of Adirondack Democracy, a grassroots political organization.

"We thought that the play would be entertaining in and of itself," said Balzac, but we thought it'd be a nice jumping-off point to talk about some other stuff."

Each hour-and-a-half performance will conclude with a panel dicussion about recent events in American politics.

"Mrs. Farnsworth," was penned by A.R. Gurney, and premiered off-broadway in 2004, not long before that year's Presidential election. Sigourney Weaver and John Lithgow starred in the original cast.

The play is set in a creative writing class in Manhattan and centers around three main characters.

Kathleen Recchia plays the title character, a student in the class eager to publish her embellished memoir: the tale of a Vassar girl who becomes pregnant by a hard-partying Yale boy.

"It becomes clear from the things she mentions that the man is George W. Bush," Balzac explained.

George G. Davis Jr. of Essex plays Gordon Bell, the preoccupied teacher who becomes intrigued with Mrs. Farnsworth and her memoir when he realizes that having it published could influence the outcome of the 2004 election.

The water becomes a bit more muddied, however, with the entrance of Mr. Farnsworth, played by Kevin Cooper of Westport, who offers a different perspective of his wife and her narrative.

"It's not a one-sided story," said Balzac. "Things get balanced out and the audience is left with questions."

It's those questions Balzac hopes will spark some interesting discussions about what is true and what is fabrication, both in the context of the play and in reality.

All performances begin at 7:30 p.m. and admission is free with a $5 suggested donation. Any proceeds above production costs will be donated to Greg Mortenson's Central Asia Institute and its efforts to build schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

For more information, contact Balzac at 946-8323.

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