Drop the names "Simplot" or "Morrison" around Joe Golden and Tom Willmorth these days, and you'll be met with cartoonish, mock-shocked faces. The long-time Idaho Shakespeare Festival Greenshow goofs recently premiered their first original full-length satire, The Krumblin Foundation, at Boise Contemporary Theater. The plot, unsurprisingly, draws some obvious parallels within the Boise arts community.
"We hope that the audience enjoys watching sacred cows get tipped, but that it's also a celebration of the community and its relationship to the arts," said Golden.
The two-man play centers on the story of Bess Krumblin, a widow who wants to spend the family fortune on an arts foundation with plans to transform her community into a "cultural Mecca."
"It's more about the soul of this community and how it responds to this new challenge that Bess Krumblin has set out," said Golden. "Rather than using an industry to bring life back to the town [the idea is] that the arts will save this town."
This original production was commissioned by BCT and funded with help from donors on the crowd-sourced online funding platform Kickstarter. Willmorth and Golden's previous two-man performances--ISF's Greater Tuna and A Tuna Christmas and BCT's Stones in His Pockets--helped prepare the Fool Squad duo for this massive undertaking.
"Joe and I have done a number of two man shows over the years at the Shakespeare festival and [BCT], the Greenshows," said Willmorth. "It just felt like the next artistic step was to do something a little bigger and something original."
Dramaturge Leslie Durham helped Willmorth and Golden fine-tune The Krumblin Foundation script so that it can be produced in other communities down the line. Unsurprisingly, it still resonates with a humor that is distinctly Boise.
"Like all good satire, it's smartly drawing on the ideas that are in our community consciousness," said BCT artistic director Matthew Cameron Clark. "[Willmorth and Golden] do that really well and it's always been a big part of their work being able to make people laugh, making references to the world that we're living in, the community that we're living in. In a way, we all end up laughing at ourselves at some point. No one's off the list."
But The Krumblin Foundation, which runs through Saturday, Oct. 30, isn't the only premiere up BCT's sleeves this season.
"Three out of four shows are premieres, which is cool," said Clark. "And all of the playwrights will be participating to some degree with these original productions."
The season's second production and only non-premiere, Tru, runs Tuesday, Nov. 23, through Saturday, Dec. 18. Written by Jay Presson Allen, the play is set during the waning years in celebrity novelist Truman Capote's life, a time when the notorious socialite had fallen from grace among the acquaintances he so acerbically portrayed.
"This is later in his life, a little further into the time where [Capote] is known for being famous as much as he is for being a writer," explained Clark. "He's spending more time alone, and he's starting to alienate some of his closest friends with the candor in his writing."
Tru originally premiered in 1989 at the Booth Theatre in New York but hasn't received many subsequent productions. Actor Tom Ford, who starred in BCT's I Am My Own Wife and will portray Capote in BCT's forthcoming production, brought the script to Clark's attention.
"It's one of those matches that's just too good to be true. Tom Ford as Truman Capote is going to be brilliant," said Clark.
Third on BCT's roster this season is Samuel D. Hunter's Norway, which runs Wednesday, Jan. 26, through Saturday, Feb. 19, 2011, and is a co-world premiere with the Phoenix Theatre in Indianapolis. Set in Lewiston the play explores a 10-year friendship--and possibly more--between drifters Brent and Andy.
"Norway jumps around in time a little bit," explained Clark. "At least one of these characters is gay. We don't know if they both are. There's certainly a relationship between them. It's a friendship that's an important relationship. And there's some discussion and deconstruction of the idea of coming out."
Wrapping up BCT's 2010-2011 season is Eric Coble's The Velocity of Autumn, which runs Wednesday, April 6, through Saturday, April 30, 2011. The play is a stylistic departure from Norway, featuring a real-time, no-interruptions conversation between an aging painter who refuses to move out of her Brooklyn brownstone and her son, who has sneaked in through her boarded-up window.
"The Velocity of Autumn, in contrast to [Norway], is two people in a room talking and revealing truths about themselves and each other," said Clark. "It's full of some of the most beautiful descriptions of images that I've ever come across."
Though Clark acknowledged that he had to keep most of BCT's productions small this season to stay within budget, those constraints allowed him to push the artistic envelope and embrace newer, more cutting-edge, plays. Willmorth and Golden couldn't be more pleased with that approach.
"I think it's great that BCT is really focusing on new works like this, that they really took a chance on us," said Golden. "We certainly do have an established relationship here in Boise, but it's one thing to do that and it's another to put a lot of resources behind a couple of goofballs like us."