Home »
Review Theater

The Art of Playwright Shines in Two New Plays

Photo by Charr Crail.
From left, Amy Resnick, Lauren Hirsch and Ian Hopps star in "Luna Gale" at Capital Stage.

The only tool a playwright has is his or her words, yet “You can’t be too in love with them,” says local playwright Sean Patrick Nill, whose play ‘Kings of America’ has its world premiere Saturday at Sacramento Theatre Company.

Nill, 26, completed a playwriting internship at B Street Theatre last year (he’s currently an artistic associate there), and he learned early that “there’s no line more important than the story.”

“Words are beyond important,” said Nill. “But I can write a beautiful scene and if it doesn’t serve the story, it’s got to go.”

Dave Pierini, a member of the B Street Acting Company, as well as its head artistic associate, emphasized that fact. Pierini’s best criticism: “Tangents kill theater.”

‘Kings of America’ isn’t Nill’s first play, nor is it the first he has submitted to Sacramento Theater Company, which has a commitment to encourage and produce local talent. Part of Nill’s B Street education was the writing of 10-minute scripts — telling a story in 10 minutes. Buck Busfield, B Street co-founder and producing artistic director, encouraged the playwright to submit some of his works to short-play contests and festivals. Two of his 10-minute plays have been performed several times and are now published. Nill previously submitted a full-length play for consideration at STC. Although it wasn’t selected for production, Michael Luan, STC’s executive producing director, encouraged him to keep trying. This year, his play was accepted.

‘Kings of America’ tells the story of a troubled young teenager named Noah who has dreams continually populated by past presidents. From George Washington and both Theodore and Franklin D. Roosevelt to JFK, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, Noah’s dreams expose him to these legendary men and show him their flaws and their best attributes. The dreams give Noah two different perspectives.

“The conflict isn’t ‘do I listen to these people,’ but ‘which side (of their being) do I choose to listen to,'” said Nill. In the end, the young man gets perspective on his own life and the path he should choose to get through it.

‘Kings of America’ opens at 8 p.m. Saturday on the Pollock Stage at STC, 1419 H St. Performances continue at 2 p.m. Sunday, 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and 2 and 8 p.m. subsequent Saturdays, through Dec. 10. Tickets are $30-$40 (some discounts for students, seniors and groups).

For more information, call (916) 44-6277 or go to SacTheatre.org.

‘Luna Gale’ shines at Capital Stage

Michael Stevenson directs ‘Luna Gale,’ the current production at Capital Stage, and it is perhaps the best show of the year. Well-written, with continual revelations; well-acted, with superlative performances by Amy Resnick and Ian Hopps, especially; and expertly staged, from the adaptable set, to the effective lighting and, of course, the insightful direction, ‘Luna Gale’ is marvelous.

The title character is a baby (never seen), the child of two young meth addicts. The play begins with the child in a hospital emergency room, the druggy parents (Karlie, played by Lauren Hirsch, and Peter, played by Hopps) shakily, nervously awaiting news of its condition. Enter Caroline (Resnick), a social worker tasked with finding the best “home” for the child. A compassionate woman, Caroline would like to get the parents into rehab and counseling with the ultimate goal of reuniting the family. The social welfare system being what it is, though, that will take some time.

At present, the best option appears to be placing the baby with its grandmother, Karlie’s mom (played by Shannon Mahoney). As the young parents struggle with sobriety, grandma, with the help and encouragement of her evangelical pastor (Peter Story), begins the process of trying to adopt the child. Caroline’s boss (played by Aaron Wilton) favors the grandmother’s action, but he just wants the baby out of the system (i.e. out of his hair).

As more is revealed about all concerned, it becomes less and less clear what the most favorable outcome would be. Playwright Rebecca Gilman’s drama is a strong indictment of a social welfare system that is underfunded, overcrowded and practically destined to fail the innocents in its care. In the case of little Luna Gale, the outcome seems to be promising, but the excellent script — true to life — doesn’t guarantee it.

‘Luna Gale’ plays Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 7 p.m., Saturdays at 2 and 8 p.m., Sundays at 8 p.m. Tickets are $18-$40 and are available by calling (916) 995-5464 or going to: CapStage.org. Capital Stage is at 2215 J St.

The Art of Playwright Shines in Two New Plays via @sacramentopress

About the author

Jim Carnes

Jim Carnes

Jim Carnes has masters degrees in English and journalism and is a former National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow in popular culture at Stanford University. He has covered Sacramento arts and entertainment for more than 20 years. He currently writes about and reviews theater, dance, music and events in the Sacramento area.

Support Local


Subscribe to Our
Weekly Newsletter

Stay connected to what's happening
in the city
We respect your privacy

Subscribe to Sacramento

Share via
Copy link