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Theater Review: Thrown Stone's 'The Suburbs' Offers Theater On The Move



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RIDGEFIELD — Thrown Stone Theatre Company is presenting The Suburbs, a unique, peripatetic presentation. Three short plays are performed in three separate and storied outdoor locations along Main Street in Ridgefield. Opening night, on August 28, was well attended and enjoyed.

Each of the plays was commissioned by Jonathan Winn and Jason Peck, the founders and artistic directors of Thrown Stone. Three different playwrights were asked to write plays relevant to the suburban experience and to use this historic town as its template.

Keeler Tavern, a museum for much of Ridgefield’s rich history, was the first stop. An Education: How to Confront the Classics by Catherine Wu was staged in the gardens.

Featuring Ian Michael Minh as Federico, Bridget Ann White as Clarisse, and Will Jeffries as Bob, this didactic piece debates the options of keeping the classics in the local school curriculum or accepting them as outdated and removing them.

The three actors sit on stools as they defend their positions. The play is wordy and the argument brisk.

The audience then ambled to the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, where seats were taken on a hill overlooking a patio.

The Caterers by Tony Menses was performed in this lovely setting. Caterers played by Nedra Snipes, Justise Haywood, Maya Carter, Ian Michael Minh, and Bridget Ann White bustled about as they prepared to serve guests who were gathered for an engagement party in the suburbs.

A newcomer (played by Nell Kessler) appears, and Garcia (Maya Carter) is enthralled by her. Thinking she has come to cater, Garcia trains her, and falls in love with her.

Craving their own slice of privilege and grandeur, and seeking respite from the grind of their lives, the caterers stand in stark contrast to the unseen guests. The play opens a window onto the experience of those who serve the elite.

A stroll back up Main Street put the audience on the front lawn of the West Lane Inn, a gorgeous setting along the road. Lights were lit and a large front porch bore witness to the events. It was a perfect setting for Should We Dance Instead by Phanesia Pharel.

This playwright mined the history of Ridgefield to build a story based on its circumstances during American slavery. She brilliantly introduced magical realism, combining the history and its people with current events.

This play tells the story of Uncle Ned (Tenisi Davis) and his wife Betsy (Nedra Snipes), a free Black couple who resided in Ridgefield and maintained a stop on the Underground Railroad. They return to implore present-day townsman Marem (Will Jeffries) to consider restoring a once vital and communal home, now on the market for an exorbitant amount of money, to its original purpose. This piece was extraordinary.

All three plays are directed by Kholoud Sawaf, who gives each piece distinct treatment, ranging from stillness to dancing under the stars.

The conception and execution of The Suburbs made for an interesting and different theatrical experience, one enjoyed by the audience as they moved from place to place.

Ridgefield is a gorgeous town, and its sidewalks provided an ideal experience of theater on the move. Congratulations to Thrown Stone for trying something new and bringing it to life. Don’t miss this theatrical walking tour, it is an evening to remember.

Performances continue through September 12. Visit thrownstone.org for full performance, ticket, and other details, including where to park and what to wear for this clever production.

Tenisi Davis and Nedra Snipes are featured as Uncle Ned and Betsy, a free Black couple who resided Ridgefield and maintained a stop on the Underground Railroad in Should We Dance Instead. Phanesia Pharel’s short play is one of three being performed — each in a different outdoor location — as part of Thrown Stone Theatre Company’s production of The Suburbs. —Chuck Jennes Photography photo
Bob (Will Jeffries), Federico (Ian Michael Minh), and Clarisse (Bridget Ann White) debate whether to keep classics in a local school curriculum or accept them as outdated and remove them in An Education: How To Confront the Classics, the first of three short plays that make up Thrown Stone Theatre’s The Suburbs. —Chuck Jennes Photography photo
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