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Arts & Culture

Live Active Cultures: Orlando Shakes takes a risk

The established theater expands their commitment to new plays with Rob Keefe’s ‘The Cortez Method’

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Melanie Whipple

Routhier’s only regret is that they “waited too long to cast” this version, and were forced to replace several actors. O’Donnell has returned as Sara, joined by Paul Bernardo as Bill and Melanie Whipple as Odette; Riley Clermont takes the pivotal part of Walter, a late addition who Routhier calls “perfect for the role.”

The success of this production may be crucial not only to the script’s future, but also to that of PlayFest as a whole.

“In the best of all possible worlds,” admits Routhier, “this would be playing in the Goldman [Theater] while PlayFest was happening [Nov. 7-10], so that people coming to PlayFest would have the opportunity to see this and see what the fruits of PlayFest are.” Shakes is taking a risk by expanding the PlayFest brand throughout the year, Routhier says, and has “scraped together the budget” necessary to commit “time and resources and talent” to staging “two brand-spanking-new plays a year” rather than producing recent but established scripts like previous seasons’ Race and God of Carnage.

“We want people to understand that PlayFest is the incubator,” concludes Routhier. “Hopefully people will start connecting the play that we do now with the [new play festival]. … We’re going to need to build our audience; we’re going to need to build their trust because new plays are scary.” Keefe concurs that it’s a “conundrum,” acknowledging that “you’re not going to get familiar until [play-goers] know you, and you’re not going to be known until you’re familiar,” but The Cortez Method looks to be worth a leap of faith. “You will be transported,” he promises. “If you commit to coming in for 90 minutes, it’s a ride.” Just don’t get too excited and go pyro in the parking lot prior to curtain.

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