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Putting ‘a unique spin’ on productions

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

Members of Stage Santa Fe during a reading of its new series, “The Red Readings,” which is available to watch online. (Courtesy of Stage Santa Fe)

Many art organizations have had to pivot with no in-person productions.

For Stage Santa Fe, the company decided to move online with its “Stage(D) Readings.”

“We wanted to provide an outlet, some perspective and some entertainment,” says Danette Sills of Stage Santa Fe. “This is a unique spin on what we’re doing. We figured that actors need to have an outlet, and a lot of people have been trying to do monologues and portions of plays.”

Stage Santa Fe decided to create “The Red Readings,” which consists of actors reading “The Masque of the Red Death” and “The Nightingale and the Rose.” The pieces are produced with both music and sound effects.

Sills says red is the signature color for both works, representing both death and passion.

Edgar Allan Poe’s short story, “The Masque of the Red Death,” is a story of an earlier pandemic and the consequences of hubris.

“The Nightingale and the Rose” by Oscar Wilde is a fairy tale of idealized love. Both are available online on Stage Santa Fe’s YouTube channel and Facebook page.

“We wanted to take some classic short stories and adjust them to a performance,” Sills says. “Poe’s story I thought would be relevant to what we’re experiencing today. Wilde’s is a bittersweet story about idealized love and what does art mean as love.”

The cast includes Christina Michelle Blakeslee, Nicholas Kapustinsky, Juliet Marie Salazar, Hamilton Turner, Matt McMillan and Jonathan David Dixon. The readings were directed by Sills.

“Our local performers are looking for creative ways to tell the stories that have nourished and entertained us in the past,” Sills says. “We hope that through our ‘Stage(D) Readings’ we can provide both a platform for our local talent, as well as some thoughtful reflection on our current situation.”

Sills says the biggest adjustment in putting this series together is not being able to be in the same room as the actors.

“The most important thing is trying to keep the engagement,” she says. “It’s been an ongoing process in seeing what works with each part of the readings. Luckily, everyone has been up to the challenge.”

Sills says Poe’s short story is relevant to what we’re experiencing today with the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s also a chance to learn from it.

“You look at what happened with the Spanish Flu,” she says. “We’re repeating history. Granted, we have seven times the number of people worldwide now. We have a greater concentration of people and there’s a greater chance for the virus to spread. It’s almost overwhelming and people need entertainment. This is our answer to still get some art exposure while staying at home.”

Although it’s free to watch online, Sills says donations are accepted via its GoFundMe campaign. All funds raised will go directly to support those working to keep our local theater alive.

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