Even as their first season is coming to an end, Brian and Paula Alprin are already assessing whether they will continue with a second session.
As producing director, Brian Alprin is inclined to think that they will.
“Our original plan was never to do this for one summer, but we need to appraise the results of our first season,” Alprin said.
Their new venture, Natural Theatricals, produced two shows during the first season: “The Women of Trachis” and “Antigua.” The latter was written by Paula Alprin, who also serves as artistic director for the new group.
“The audiences have been very enthusiastic about both shows. It’s been very encouraging,” she said.
What they are offering is unusual for this area. Although other theaters may occasionally produce a classic, no other local theater is dedicated to presenting plays with classical themes derived from the ancient Greek theatrical tradition.
“We strive to present productions that challenge the imagination of our audiences, respect our source material, and maintain high standards of taste. In general, we believe the performances we present are suitable for persons 14 years of age and older,” Brian Alprin said.
The couple plan to do a few things differently if they decide to move ahead with a new season. Alprin said that they would do three shows instead of two. One would be a translation of the classical Greek canon; another would be a published or previously performed work by an established playwright.
They'll offer subscriptions for the new season, and both said that they would start planning much earlier.
“I would get the ball rolling earlier with casting and production,” Paula Alprin said. “It worked out, but it's always better to lock in earlier.”
“The one thing I would do is get the news out earlier,” Brian Alprin said.
Aimée Meher-Homji played the role of Chorus in Natural Theatrical's first production, "The Women of Trachis.” This role was the consolidation of a group of men into a single character. The flesh-and-blood character interacts with other characters and even has a relationship with Hyllos. Meher-Homji said that her biggest challenge was being on stage for the entire performance.
"It was a fantastic experience, great role and a good cast,” she said. "I would definitely do another show.
BOTH BRIAN AND PAULA ALPRIN pride themselves on the fact that they give opportunities to actors or theatrical staff who for one reason or another were not given the chances that others have had.
“Part of our mission as an upstart company is to give a chance to somebody who's so gifted or extraordinary, but because of luck or exposure, hasn't had a chance,” Paula Alprin said.
While Manolo Santalla has been in several roles in other local theaters, he was very thankful to be in the Alprins’ first production.
"It was quite a thrill to be in a Greek tragedy. This has been a dream of mine, and I am thankful to Paula and Brian,” Santalla said.
He said that he would have played any role, but the role he got, Lichas, was a “plum of a role.”
“Brian and Paula have a wonderful mission. They want to produce works that are worthwhile, and they're willing to give actors a chance to perform in a Greek tragedy,” Santalla said.
He likes the fact that the show has a long run (18 shows). “One really has the opportunity to sink your teeth into the role,” Santalla said. He also loves performing at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial.
“It’s so magnificent,” he said.
Brian Alprin agreed and said, "The stately, classical ambiance of this performance hall and the traditional architecture of the Memorial lend themselves to performances with classical themes. Our performance space is an outstanding space. The theater is an underused facility. We want to change that.”