From Mary Rumman
Saline Area Players’ March 17-19 Michigan Premiere
Marc Holland, the local playwright and director of Saline Area Players’ next production, Warren’s Peace, is about a small town in Michigan.
“You can say it’s a Michigan play, but it’s about people from small towns everywhere.”
Holland said his inspiration for the play came from the first play he had a part in publishing (“Crenshaw Family Reunion”, co-written with Mike Davis), was set in the fictional town of Wiley Falls, Pennsylvania. People think of Philadelphia, or Pittsburgh, or Harrisburg when they think of the Keystone State, though a large part of the state is rural, filled with State Parks and natural wonders and tons of charming small towns. It was more than fifteen years later that he wondered how is that different from the Great Lakes State, Michigan? People think of Detroit, Lansing, Ann Arbor, maybe Grand Rapids. It’s the same thing.
Warren’s Peace is not really based on real situations, Holland said it is basically a fable. But definitely based on real people.
“My wife, Kathy, co-author of “Warren’s Peace” and I both grew up in small towns, she in South Lyon and me in Plymouth. You get tired of saying, ‘I live an hour from Lansing’ or ‘we’re fifteen miles from Detroit’ or ‘we’re just west of Ann Arbor.’” But the characters talk like us. They think like us. They understand deer camp and an eternal disappointment in the Detroit Lions.
Holland said all of the plays he has written are comedies. “I feel like we get enough angst in our day-to-day lives. I want you to have a good time when you attend my show, just as I want to laugh when I lay down my money at the box office. At the same time, I’m a proponent of family dinners at the table, long-lasting marriage and a devotion to the community. That’s not to say I won’t eat a sandwich in front of the TV or beef when I think the local politicians are leading us in the wrong way. All of that is in the script. The most interesting part of each of us is where we break from the herd. The rest of the herd wonders, ‘Where is he going?’ Because the one that is breaking ranks is easily the most interesting cow in the corral.
Holland said that when directing a play that he has written, he believes he must back off a bit, give the actors space to create a character. “I told the cast at our first rehearsal, ‘There are times when the playwright writes things to make himself look smart.’ Sometimes, those lines don’t work. Theatre is a partnership between artists, but a writer and a performer look at the dialogue differently. Neither of them is 100% right, or 100% wrong. You have to find a balance. I like to offer suggestions about a character and ask the actor to think about it. Their responses are occasionally insightful and often hilarious.”
“I don’t want to be pithy, but I love the parts where people laugh at themselves and see a truth in the story. You can say it’s a Michigan play, but it’s about people from small towns everywhere.”
The Saline production will be the Michigan Premiere, but “Warren’s Peace” was produced just south of Mount Rushmore in South Dakota and just south of Dallas, both small towns.
“It’s a universal feeling among people from those dots on the map. I’m sure they changed some things to make the play fit their geography. I am totally okay with that.”
Holland said his favorite part in any play is seeing someone that reminds him of himself, or a person he know. “With a play like Warren’s Peace, the people will be very familiar, especially if you’re from a small town in Michigan. It is not highbrow by any means, incorporating physical comedy into a story of folks we recognize. If you come out and see this show, you won’t go home wondering, ‘What was it about?’ You’ll know. You might even repeat some of the lines to your co-worker on Monday. I bet your co-worker will smile.”
Saline Area Players will perform “Warren’s Peace” March 17-19 at Fifth Corner. Doors open at 7pm for samplings of Michigan-made treats and seating. Curtain time is 8pm. Full information at www.salineareaplayers.org