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Lowell Bartholomee is the director of "In On It," a play about a playwright struggling with his own identity. The play premieres at The Off Center tonight and performances will be Thursdays through Saturdays until July 29.


Less is more in evolving play 'In On It'

Halie Pratt

Posted: 7/13/06

It's not often that a playwright publishes an award-winning piece, and keeps changing the script. In Canadian playwright Daniel MacIvor's case, though, that's his precise formula.

MacIvor's piece "In On It" follows "This One," a playwright struggling with his own identity as he writes a family drama. Local actor Scotty Roberts tackles this challenging role, both opening and closing the play. Robert Faires plays "That One," Roberts' character's lover.

The Dirigo Group spotted the play in January 2003 when MacIvor performed it at UT for the Fresh Terrain Festival. MacIvor was still reworking the piece as it toured, though it had already been published and won an Obie in 2002.

"It gives me a lot of respect for him, that he's rewriting after it was published," said Lowell Bartholomee, who is directing the play during its run at The Off Center.

"I don't think I would change my play after it had been published and won awards."

The group met MacIvor and began working to perform "In On It" themselves. They set a deadline for MacIvor to finalize his script - Saskatchewan Day, the first Monday of August - and began casting.

"Casting is often reading a part, and then faces pop into your head," Bartholomee said. "We read the role, and Scotty popped in my head. Then it was just finding a costar to work with him, and Robert fit that."

Both actors play multiple roles, covering the characters within "This One's" play, along with recreating the people "This One" and "That One" interact with daily. All of this is done on a stage with only two chairs - no props, no scenery. The script was written for a bare stage, and also included directions for lighting design, which was ideal for Bartholomee.

"The concept's been worked out, so you're just working with the actors, getting them to reach the point that the director wants them to hit, and Scotty and Robert made it," Bartholomee said.

To prepare for "In On It," the group cleared out The Off Center, including seating. Without anything in the way, Bartholomee had an easier time visualizing the play.

"My imagination tends to be more of a black box," Bartholomee said. "I think it's a different experience for the audience to walk into a completely bare space, in the dark. It's really exciting to take a space so bare and bring it to life. That's thrilling."

Bartholomee works both angles of Austin theater, jumping between acting and directing with ease. Though he prefers to act, work is more available as a director.

"It's easier to give yourself a director job, since you can't give yourself an acting job. The director casts the actors," he said.

Bartholomee is a co-artistic director in the Dirigo Group, along with Ellie McBride. After "In On It" completes its run, he will take a break from theater to work on his film projects. He will begin shooting his film "Fleet Street," a "tight little thriller."

"In On It" was rated top "Theatre to See in July" by local publication Austinist. The play, premiering at The Off Center tonight, will run Thursdays through Saturdays, ending July 29. The next Dirigo Group production is in January, though the piece has not been decided.
© Copyright 2006 The Daily Texan