News > Review: Reading of “The Transcendents”

photo by the author

photo by the author

The Woolfe Street Playhouse has cultivated a reputation for hosting some of the most eclectic offerings of performance art in the Lowcountry, and the latest addition to their portfolio is no exception. In the summer of 2014, Village Repertory Co. performed Happy in the Poor House, by the respected New York playwright Derek Ahonen, co-founder and director of The Amoralists Theater Company. The relationship deepened when Woolfe Street invited Ahonen to serve as their 2015 playwright-in-residence and he has been in Charleston since the first of the year, creating his script – his first authored outside New York and Chicago.

Saturday night, Woolfe Street hosted a first draft reading of Ahonen’s commissioned work titled The Transcendents. In front of a small, intimate crowd sitting around candlelit cocktail tables, we were offered an early sample of Ahonen’s latest work – a story of sex, drugs, and Rock & Roll – as read by six cast members and narrated by Ahonen himself.

The Transcendents centers around a musician seeking retribution for a wrongdoing in his past, but to call this a simple story of revenge would be missing the point of the work entirely. The well-meshed layers of plot subtext and blended story lines convey a deeper message – one of survival, reaching peace, and achieving transcendence. With smatterings of topics like substance abuse, childhood trauma, incest, and murder, the work is heavy, but peppered with light dialogue that offers the audience some relief without disrupting the greater mood, and rightly so. The subject matter is gritty and intense, but Ahonen succeeds in creating a story that is relateable and thoughtful.

Following the reading, Ahonen and the cast answered questions about the characters and welcomed feedback from patrons. It was interesting to see the evolution of a play in this context – the work is incomplete, and the playwright has invited his audience to offer their opinions in pursuit of refining the work to a second and final draft. Ahonen’s finds inspiration in the difficult topics, and he is able to author a deeply pensive play because of it.

Charleston and the Woolfe Street Playhouse are fortunate to play host to such a talent and we are thrilled to have Ahonen as a part of our artistic community for his year-long tenure at Woolfe Street. The Transcendents will premiere this summer, tentatively planned for July 31 – mid-August, at Woolfe Street Playhouse. For additional information on Ahonen, visit The Amoralists Theater Company.

review by Taylor Capocaccia

Posted on February 26, 2015 by admin.

Categories: Performing Arts, Review

Tags: Derek Ahonen, The Amoralists, The Transcendents, Village Repertory Co., Woolfe Street Playhouse

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