Curtain rises on ‘A Modern Encounter’

September 5, 2014 | Bill Hoban

"A Modern Encounter” is the latest offering from the Experiential Theatre Company as part of the Sonoma Theatre Alliance season.

The play runs Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Sept. 21, on the Rotary Stage in Andrews Hall at the Sonoma Community Center.

An original multimedia play, written and directed by James Wood, is a romp through the world of relationships in the Internet era. Using live theater, film, music and machinima, the play explores how people succumb to their fantasies despite conflicting reality and how this surrender to fantasy is greatly exacerbated by technology.

The story was inspired by Noel Coward’s play, “Still Life,” in which two strangers meet in a cafe and feel an strong attraction for each other. “A Modern Encounter” explores the question: How might this encounter unfold in today’s world, where communication is instant, constant and ubiquitous? With humor and pathos, “A Modern Encounter” explores the fun, peril and shifting boundaries of relationships in today’s world.

Wood says, “Noël Coward wrote a one act play titled ‘Still Life.’ Later he made it into a film titled ‘A Brief Encounter.’ Emma Rice, of Kneehigh Theater, then adapted the film back to the stage. I saw the production of Kneehigh’s ‘A Brief Encounter’ at the ACT. Rice had integrated film into the production. It was very well done. So I started to think about how that play might unfold in the Internet era.

“Coward’s play was written in the 1930s, so the social mores were very different then of course, as was the way in which we communicated,” Wood continued. “I wrote a play that takes that scenario – two strangers meeting in a cafe – and let it unfold in the context of modern relationships and technology. Then I put together a great cast from Los Angeles and elsewhere in addition to some terrific local actors. And Cat Austin helped me gather an excellent crew.”

The cast includes Greg Louis, Kerstin John, Sean McQueen, Jennifer Peck, Jim McFadden, Arianna Keever, Frances Wiener, and appearing only on film, Anthony Abate.

Curtain time is 8 p.m. Thursday, Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets are $25 Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and $20 on Thursdays.