July 30, 2009

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Finding direction
Local music featured in subUrbia
By Heidi Masek hmasek@hippopress.com

The characters in Eric Bogosian’s subUrbia spend their nights hanging outside a convenience store, partying, and trying to sort out what they want to do with their lives, according to Ozan Haksever.

“It’s about a bunch of kids in their 20s who live in the suburbs, whose lives really haven’t gone anywhere,” Haksever said.

He directs subUrbia for Ghostlight Theatre Co. New England. Performances are Friday, July 31, through Sat., Aug. 8, at the Amato Center in Milford. Ghostlight has created a detailed life-size convenience store set and the show features music from eight area bands. Several are scheduled to perform live in the Amato lobby before curtain.

This is the New England premiere of Bogosian’s newer version of subUrbia, according to Ghostlight. References in the 1994 script were out of date, Haksever said. In this one, characters use cell phones rather than pay phones, for example, and there’s mention of the Iraq war.

Haksever thinks this take also offers new angles and subtleties and gives characters more depth.

Ghostlight artistic director and founder John Sefel said they had been hesitant earlier, because the show felt dated. They e-mailed a former Ghostlight actress, Nikole Beckwith, who was working as Bogosian’s assistant in New York, to ask if Ghostlight could update it. Beckwith replied that Bogosian had done that in 2006, although that script was not published. (There’s also a 1996 film version directed by Richard Linklater.)

“I think the play is a lot about the American Dream and sort of what it’s become,” Haksever said. He thinks the concept has lost some relevance to today’s youth.

He sees something of a “void of purpose among characters of show.” They are “kind of on a desperate search for meaning,” Haksever said.

Haksever, 27, who is persuing a BFA in theater at Salem State College, said it’s a confusing time to be young in America. Economically, some of the traditional aspects of the American Dream are even harder to achieve.

“I think there is a pervasive theme of feeling lost right now,” Haksever said. People question what they want out of life — money, a nice house in the suburbs, something more spiritual or creative?

The characters in subUrbia “are all in different places in their lives where things aren’t going how they want them to and they’re not sure how to move forward,” Haksever said.

One was honorably discharged from the military, although it sounds like he was kicked out. His dream of becoming an Air Force pilot has been crushed. Another has dropped out of college and is back home taking community college classes.

Sooze wants to move to New York to be an artist. She’s concerned whether she’ll be able to make it, and her boyfriend is kind of afraid to make the move.

When a rock star visits home, it reminds them that someone they knew became somewhat successful — “He sort of shatters their world,” Haksever said.

The script calls for a lot of music, Haksever said. Ghostlight is using mostly rock or alternative rock and some heavy metal from six New Hampshire bands and two Massachusetts ones.

Sefel books bands as a staff member for Club Cannon, a teen center in Peterborough. He sent music to Haksever, who spent a lot of time figuring out what would fit. Haksever said they also recruited a couple of groups he saw in Gilford when about 30 local bands performed at a Korn concert.

Your Favorite Color is a Peterborough band that now plays the Boston area frequently. Zack Howland is a “really good” solo acoustic musician, Sefel said.

Music by Night of Our Lives, Mindset X, the Mydas Ascension, Soul Octane Burner, A Bit Much and Have At It is also featured.

“We really sort of try to blur” which audience goes to which kind of thing, whether that’s by putting on zombie plays, or trying to bring music fans to see theater and vice versa, Sefel said.

Haksever and subUrbia cast member Chrissy Coates directed Cannibal, the Musical for Ghostlight, which won an audience vote in the 2007 New England Fringe Festival.


If you go
What: subUrbia, by Eric Bogosian, presented by Ghostlight Theater Co.
Where: Amato Center (at the Souhegan Valley Boys & Girls Club), 56 Mont Vernon St., Milford.
When: Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 7 p.m., July 31-Aug. 8.
Tickets: $12-$15, www.gltne.org, 893-2217. 
Note: Because of adult language and content, subUrbia is better suited for those 18 or order.

Who’s playing?
Get to the Amato Center at 7:30 p.m. Friday or Saturday or at 6:30 p.m. Sunday to hear bands featured in subUrbia, live. Here’s the schedule so far:
• Zack Howland, July 31.
• Zack Howland, Aug. 1.
• A Bit Much, Aug. 2.
• Night of Our Lives, Aug. 7.
• Mydas Ascension, Aug. 8.

The actors
The subUrbia cast includes Babak Alian, Lindsey Bombard, Taryn Cagnina, Mike Carney, Chrissy Coates, Joe Coppellotti, John Kneeland, Tina Sheehan and DJ Spinelli. Robert Fitzgerald produces.

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