Things get “Cookin’ in Bristol” in A Raw Space
by Cate Murway
What is it that makes a space a place?
Dynamic facades encourage fantasy and play; factors that support ecstatic exuberance; factors which preserve a sense of mystery and adventure; ingredients which connect us to reality; those which link a building to its past; facilitate spontaneous exchanges; and affirm people's identity.
The Bristol Riverside Theatre is delighted to offer the World Premiere of A Raw Space by Jon Marans, presenting an elegant interplay between architectural design and marriage that only this celebrated playwright could conjure.
What is it about the word “raw” that nurtures our spirits and piques our interest?
“Places are goals or foci where we experience the meaningful events of our existence, but there are also points of departure from which we orient ourselves and take possession of the environment. A place is something that evokes a notion of permanence and stability in us."
Jon Stephen Marans is quite apparently an optimistic person, ever enthusiastic about life and living and his quest for destiny with words brings out his aesthetic individuality.
He voices high ideals and an inspirational approach to life, and his works combine the simple with the noble in a most contemporary way.
He is a graduate of Duke University in mathematics and music and also studied at both the BMI & ASCAP Musical Theater workshops. He was a television staff writer/lyricist for the 1991 New Carol Burnett Show on CBS and wrote in 2003-2004 for Cookin’ in Brooklyn, a “comedy-reality” show on the Discovery Channel.
He most recently wrote A Raw Space, a “fun, kind of sexy; not racy, adult” play with a tilting “3d chess” plan about how two dynamic couples tangle during a private interior design competition, designing an apartment and their relationships in a perfectly detailed set. The integral values, interaction, consistency and unity, and characteristics of space and light are radiated without any false pretensions. Jon creates a unique atmosphere that generates emotions.
Keith Baker plays the husband of the wealthy Susu Ziegler who is forced to compete against a much younger, hotshot architect. The tale is told in a heightened theatrical style, compressing and playing with time and space, and ultimately examining what makes a marriage work…. or not.
Jon and Keith initially met through a mutual friend, a theatrical agent.
“Keith does a beautiful job”.
Jon Marans directed “Barrymore” when Keith Baker brought to life the enigmatic Philadelphia legend actor, portraying John Barrymore with all of the demons that eventually hastened his downfall.
Jon was originally enamored with the “surreal feeling” and the dynamic dimensions of the three stark glass buildings with 360 degrees of windows created by Richard Meier, where spatial clarity and visual diversity demonstrated a clear hierarchy of spaces.
“I pretended to be a wealthy person”.
He toured the Manhattan apartments on Perry Street with the astounding views near the Hudson River. A myriad of celebrities had been tenants, including American fashion designer, Calvin Klein; American business magnate/author, Martha Stewart; and Australian actor and producer, Hugh Jackman.
The structures with a view of the Statue of Liberty endowed a rather sacred atmosphere without disturbing the virtue of openness. The New York based architect ignored the fashion trends of modern construction and maintained his own design philosophy.
This carefree philosopher with imagination now had a set for his newest play.
Jon, with all his obvious talent, works proficiently with light, color and place, showing how plain geometry, layered definition of spaces and effects of light and shade, can create clear and comprehensible spaces. He achieves a "sense of place" through a series of the visual, physical or psychological experiences of the actors and constant change is enabled through the forces of the characters and, of course - the light.
Jon is the middle son, between the two daughters, of organic chemist, Nelson Marans and his wife, Rhoda. Jon has been quoted as saying his parents “are alive and delightful” and he confirmed that they would be in attendance for the opening night of “A Raw Space” on February 2, 2012.
His mom loved literature and she instilled this passion in him.
Jon has always especially enjoyed the works of Eugene Gladstone O'Neill [1888 – 1953], born in the Barrett Hotel in NYC, an American playwright and Nobel laureate in Literature.
His plays were among the first to include speeches in American vernacular and involve characters on the fringes of society, where they struggle to maintain their hopes and aspirations.
As a youth, Jon competed on the tennis team, was co-captain of the math club and he was the president of the Key Club, the oldest and largest student-led service organization program. He also played the cello. As a cellist, he provided depth and harmony to the orchestra. The cello is most closely associated with European classical music, and has been described as the closest sounding instrument to the male human voice.
He shares his birth date with Antoine de Saint-Exupery, an aristocrat French writer, poet and pioneering aviator who became a laureate of several of France's highest literary awards and in 1940 also won the U.S. National Book Award. He is best remembered for his novella, The Little Prince [Le Petit Prince] that has been translated into over 250 languages and dialects.
Last season, Marans’ single set and cast of only two, deeply satisfying emotional journey through joy and sadness, celebrated Pulitzer Prize nominated “Old Wicked Songs” was performed at the BRT. It was a big hit in the mid-1990s. Youth and age, a young Jewish pianist and his Viennese music teacher, played out a predictable pattern of conflict and conciliation, shedding secrets and learning about themselves from each other along the way. It was performed first at the Jewish Repertory, then at Promenade, and then around the world.
Jon lives in NYC but he is entranced with Bristol.
“It certainly is a walking town”. He loves the Bristol Riverside Theatre and the “warm and friendly people”.
Marty Shively and Gail Bracegirdle of the Artists of Bristol are avidly searching for Artwork and Photography that perfectly relates to A Raw Space theme. They are accepting artwork to be dropped off at the Bristol Riverside Theatre on Thursday, January 26, from 10:00AM- 2:00 PM. The temporary gallery project is to be exhibited for the duration of the play.
Everything about the BRT is surprising, exciting and vital.
There is a warmth here, even a sensitivity, that is so endearing.
You gain a fresh perspective on art and culture.
Reserve your space. Performances are Tuesday, January 31- Sunday, February 19, 2012.
Bristol Riverside Theatre
120 Radcliffe Street
Bristol, PA 19007
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