Sandpoint has long been recognized as an artists’ community. But just when you think the creative level could not be more intriguing for a small town such as this, a new form of art is introduced.
Next weekend marks the opening of an original play in Sandpoint, “Red Tape.” But this production is more than the telling of a story through actors memorizing and interpreting a script. It incorporates nine pieces of art by a local but internationally acclaimed artist, the writing and directing of two residents well known in the local theater community, and interpretive music performed by a local musician.
The concept is known as “art as theater.”
“The interpretation of art in a theatrical way is not a new concept,” said Teresa Pesce, who wrote “Red Tape.” “But it is new to this area.”
It began when Pesce visited the art studio of Stephen Schultz. Intrigued by his work, Pesce came up with the idea of writing a story based on her interpretation of it.
Pesce “selected nine paintings and found a common theme,” said Deb McShane, who is directing the play.
Pesce was drawn to the spools of tape winding their way through several of Schultz’s paintings.
For Pesce, it brought to mind being caught up in the red tape of bureaucracy, a term derived from an old British practice of using red tape to tie up official papers.
“We are all wrapped up in red tape,” said Pesce. “It’s the emotional and psychological way we were brought up.”
After writing the script, Pesce brought it to Schultz and read it to him. “He gave his blessing,” said McShane. “He has been so gracious.”
The play’s narrator, a character in his late 60s, looks back on his life, when as a young man of 25 he was trying to establish himself.
“It is an exploration of what love is, how love feeds us and how love inspires us. Do we have to prove our love?” said McShane. “There are no easy answers in the play.”
It also examines brotherly love versus romantic love and explores how nature and nurture intertwine, causing people to frequently replicate family patterns.
“It is a very enigmatic piece,” said McShane. “It poses some very big questions about who we are.”
Both Pesce and McShane say that the multigenerational talent from which they were able to choose their cast amazes them.
“We have just an astounding group of actors in this town,” McShane said.
Schultz’s paintings, some of which measure as large as 10 by 15 feet, form the set for the play.
“It’s a gallery of the narrator’s mind,” McShane said.
The production has a musical component as well. Sandpoint resident Alan Ball, who plays keyboards at various venues in town, will be playing the opening music on the Panida Theater’s grand piano, as well as pieces between scenes.
“We showed him (Ball) Stephen’s work, showed him the script and turned him loose,” Pesce said.
The music “will keep the feeling of the play and give a glimmer of what’s coming up,” said Ball.
It may seem like the tone of the play is serious throughout, but Ball said that is not the case. “There is an undercurrent of humor which you can reflect in the music as well.”
At intermission, lasagna, chocolate and wine will all be served, and following each performance the audience will be invited to go up on stage to view the artwork up close and meet the artist.
The Sandpoint performances are just the start of Pesce’s work. She plans to introduce the art-as-theater concept in both Spokane and Coeur d’Alene with the goal of touring plays.
“We have a community filled with talent,” said Pesce. “And the sky is the limit when it comes to interpreting art on stage.”