HELLO CENTRAL is an expansion of NEXT, produced by Abraxas Theatre Company at HERE Arts Center, which follows a group of WWII soldiers as they wait for their turn at a military-sponsored whorehouse. It i reunites many of the principal cast members from Gracia’s NEXT and gives the audience a deeper look at those characters. The show was conceived as a benefit for On Behalf of a Grateful Nation, who also partnered with the production of NEXT to raise funds. “It’s is less a hodge-podge of scenes and more of an entire second play-taking place before, during, and well after the war,” says Gracia. “NEXT was less of a straight narrative, more of a collection of moments that hang within a structure; that made it easier to write a re-visitation with those characters. It was a matter of finding moments between the ones you saw in the original production.”
HELLO CENTRAL begins at a USO dance before two of the characters from NEXT ship out. One is taken to a Coney Island burlesque show and joins the audience for the performance from New York-based artist Kitty Cavalier. The setting shifts to the same WWII encampment from NEXT where we revisit other characters who struggle to reconcile the treatment of an Asian prostitute by their superior officers. Gracia cites the line “our history is an aggregate of last moments” from Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow as an influence. He explains that “NEXT and Hello Central are just that, aggregates of last moments, which is the nature of writing fiction about war.”
Dialogue with Three Chords presents “If I Never Look Upon This Land Again” and the curtain-raiser “An Ugly, Lovely Town” as the third installment of the recurring theatrical collaboration from playwright Stephen Gracia and director Michael LoPorto. Set in 1872, five former criminals wait in a dockside pub for the return of the SS Britain: a ship that can redeem their violent pasts by making them sailors.
“If I Never Look Upon This Land Again” explores whether the worst of humanity can find redemption. In this case, redemption means employment on the SS Britain under its remarkable Captain Gray. “On a visit to Bristol I spent an afternoon walking through the SS Great Britain,” explains Gracia, “there, I read the story of Captain Gray: a beloved captain who disappeared from the Britain mid-voyage.”
For the former criminals hoping to sail out on her, the USS Britain is their only form of salvation. They learn that they aren’t the only ones whose salvation depends on the ship. “In the end,” Gracia continues, “‘If I Never Look Upon This Land Again’ is about those who are left behind, those looking for a second or third chance, and those who are ‘redeemed by faith alone.’”
The show also features the short play "An Ugly, Lovely Town.” Set in modern-day South Wales itfeatures two characters who find their redemption in their childhood crushes and dreams of piracy. “This Dialogue with Three Chords performance is the most Punk Rock one so far,” Gracia reflects, “this is a one-take and hit the stage night.These brand new plays will be rehearsed for two nights prior…these pieces will find their legs in front of an audience.”
For more information visit: www.dthreec.blogspot.com
About the Company: Dialogue with Three Chords
Dialogue with Three Chords was founded by Stephen Gracia and Michael LoPorto. It applies the stripped down, do-it-yourself philosophy of punk to the stage and features short plays and live music on the 4th Thursday of every month at Mr. Dennehy’s in Greenwich Village. Gracia and LoPorto’s previous collaborations have been produced for HERE Arts Center, The Sargent Theatre, The Makor Theater, DUMBO Theatre Exchange, Levenson Hall at Brooklyn College, and the Theaters at 45 Bleecker.
Set in a neighborhood that today boasts upscale eateries and the Baryshnikov Arts Center, the play recalls the recent, violent past of Hell’s Kitchen, a neighborhood with Irish shantytown roots stretching back to the 19th century. The play is a slice-of-life drama that explores the inner conflicts and subjective moralities of the Westies as they begin to lose their grip on New York City.