Before Salt Lake Acting Company starts to run with the theatrical juggernaut that is Saturday's Voyeur, they've got one short-run play left for you to dig into. --- A Loss Of Appetite is a brand new play from the mind of playwright Davis Karnes, which looks at an evening between a woman named Ellie who abruptly invites a man named Ross to dinner at her home, and the series of surprise events to follow. The play kicks off tonight on a limited run as SLAC's fundraiser event for the year, hoping to bring in funding to the small company for their 2014-15 season. Today we chat with Kranes as well as two of the actors in the play, Anne Decker and Patrick Tovatt, about the production before it's run from April 25-27. (All photos courtesy of SLAC.)
David Kranes, Patrick Tovatt & Anne Decker
Gavin: Hey everyone! First thing, tell us a little bit about yourselves.
David: Like height, age, weight and sex?
Anne: I'm supposedly retired, but apparently still keep working, which I love. I just no longer teach at the University. This year has been a very good and busy year for me. In July, I did The Righteous & Very Real Housewives In Utah County at the Post Theatre with a wonderful director, Andra Harbold Murray. In November, I did 33 Variations for Silver Summit Theatre with another fine director, Jesse Peery, at The Leonardo. And now, I have the privilege of working for the first time with Robin Wilks Dunn as my director in Loss Of Appetite and I love her sensibility and directorial eye. In between rehearsals, I manage to play tennis twice a week; and attend many concerts and plays with my husband. We have a very active life and we love it all. Salt Lake City provides an incredible amount of really fine entertainment from Opera, Ballet, Chamber Music, Symphony, theatre, theatre and more theatre. We even manage to catch Live At The Metseries at Century 16; and Live At The National Theatre at the Broadway, plus good foreign films. Can't ask for more. It’s a very good life, indeed.
Gavin: David, how did the idea for A Loss Of Appetite come about and what was it like writing the play?
David: I'd been asked to write a play for two theater friends--one they could tour with. Shortly after the request, my wife, Carol, and I found ourselves on the eve of taking a steamer-ship cruise up the coast of Norway and at dinner at a hotel in Bergen. At the next table were a couple. She was excited about everything; he was unemotional. I thought, "What a contrast." It stuck. So during our cruise, I took two hours each day (afternoons in a lounge) and wrote a first-draft of Loss of Appetite.
Gavin: What made you decide to bring it to SLAC and what was their initial reaction to it?
David: Anne Decker and I have been long-time friends. She's acted in several of my plays. She was hoping for just one more satisfying play before "retiring." I'd set LOA aside for many years (don't ask me why); still, I sent it to her. She loved it. I sent it to my dear, long-time friend, Patrick Tovatt. He loved it. So we were in motion.
Gavin: How did the idea come about to turn it into a fundraiser, and what are your thoughts on the dinner aspect to it?
David: The idea was Cythia and Keven's and I embraced it. SLAC has done so much for me; if this is a way of giving back... I'm happy.
Gavin: For the cast, what were your first thoughts on the play after reading it?
Patrick: My first thoughts on reading the play were that it was very gentle for a David Kranes piece. A Loss Of Appetite has a sweetness that actually is present from the very first lines. I don't mean to suggest that it's saccharine... it's not at all, but David clearly feels a deep affection for these two people and it comes out in the way he treats them as characters. And it's funny.
Anne: I was smitten with the script the moment I read it. David had sent it to me via email, and I read it the day after closing in Housewives. I absolutely loved it! I find it to be David's sweetest, and most endearing script of all his plays. There is a tenderness about it exudes a new and different vibration, especially at my stage in life. And of course, it has two roles for two "mature" actors. What's better than that?
Gavin: What was it like for each of you auditioning and eventually getting your parts?
Anne: Neither of us auditioned. We both were invited to do the roles. Both of us have been good and long time friends with the playwright, and it was indeed a privilege to have the script sent to me with the idea of performing it. I was enormously flattered and thrilled. Patrick and I did not know each until two weeks ago, but what a glorious experience it has been working with this man. He's the real deal. Both of us knowing David's style of writing has come in handily, because his scripts are deceptively difficult to learn. They're layered in such a way that you don't want to miss any words, beats, pauses, ellipse that David has written. They're like a musical score.
Patrick: Well I didn't audition for the play. I was retired, living in Oregon, having spent my entire adult life in the theatre. David called me and asked if I'd come do this play and I said yes. This was before it even had a venue... SLAC got involved after the play was cast by David. I think Anne had agreed to do the play before anyone else was involved.
Gavin: How was it for each of you figuring out your role and flushing out the character?
Patrick: I don't think one "figures out" a David Kranes character. The character reveals him or herself to the actor as the work goes forward. David constructs very intricate and interdependent relationships that have a compelling interior logic. As the logic becomes clear, the characters emerge. It is a dizzying ride, at times.
Gavin: Knowing it's only for a short run as a fundraiser, how is it knowing you're playing for a small audience and that the play may not return to the SLAC stage after?
Anne: I LOVE playing in small theatre spaces. They are always my favorite venues in which to work. Of course, my memory of doing Master Class (two productions) in this theatre simply adds to my pleasure of returning to Salt Lake Acting Company and to this particular space. I don't consider it "playing for a small audience" when we're playing to six sold out houses! That’s the best!!! The audience becomes an active part of the production in small venues.
Patrick: We're in a small theatre but every seat is already sold, so we will play to a packed house. A full theatre is a full theatre. That also means it's a successful fund-raiser for SLAC before the first line of dialogue is spoken. Of course we'd like to have a longer "run" but it's a gas just to mount this superb play.
David: Though I know the odds are against it, I hope it will return to the SLAC stage.
Gavin: What are all of your thoughts going into opening night?
Anne: Opening night? I just hope everyone who sees this show loves it as much as Patrick and I do. It’s a gem! And of course, on opening night, we bring the other half of the production: the audience. They have a role to perform as well. And the lovely thing about live theatre is that every night it’s a different audience and every night, it is a new experience. There is nothing like it.
Gavin: Aside from the obvious, is there anything you'd like to promote or plug?
Anne: I was so touched by SLAC's decision to pay tribute to David Kranes and all of his work. And I am so very thrilled to be part of this tribute to a man most worthy of acknowledgment and recognition. Thank you Keven and Cynthia.
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