GroundWorks opens fifth season with Lee Blessing’s ‘Chesapeake’

Friday, September 26, 2008 at 2:25am
Jack E. Chambers stars in ‘Chesapeake,' a one-man show about a a New York performance artist named Kerr.

Art, politics and dogs… three of my favorite subjects.

So, it goes without saying that I’m intrigued by GroundWorks Theatre’s season-opening production of Lee Blessing’s one-man-show Chesapeake. In this unusual play, a New York performance artist named Kerr weaves the story of his childhood, his unconventional introduction to art, his brush with fame and his life-changing connection with an ultra-conservative politician and a Chesapeake Bay retriever.

Chesapeake deals with how people can grow and evolve when they’re willing to look outside their own world,” said Jack E. Chambers, a GroundWorks veteran and star of the show. “It’s a really challenging piece, not only because it’s a one-man show, but because there’s this sense of magical realism. Kerr is the storyteller, but he also has to give life to several other characters.”

Chambers has been working with the script for about two months and rehearsing with GroundWorks’ co-founder and Artistic Director Robert A. O’Connell for nearly five weeks in preparation for the demanding show.

“Bob and I have a great working relationship,” Chambers said. “He trusts my instincts, and I trust him to let me know what’s working and what’s not. We have a good listening rapport, which is important in a production like this.”

While Chesapeake certainly touches on the relationship between art and politics, Chambers says the story is much more focused on human relationships.

“There are some culture war issues, but most of that serves as background to the real story,” he said. “At its core, it comes back to the idea that any relationship can grow if we are willing to accept that we don’t always have all the answers. We have to look beyond our own experiences and realize there may be more out there. There are some good lessons to be learned — and a lot of laughs.”

What: Chesapeake

When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 2:30 p.m. Sundays Oct. 3-18

Where: The Darkhorse Theater, 4610 Charlotte Ave.

Cost: $15 general admission, $12 students and seniors; all tickets for the Tuesday performances are $10

Info: 262-5485, groundworkstheatre.com

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