Playwright stirs excitement for Cedar Creek Lake
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
CEDAR CREEK LAKE-He’s back.
Local resident and playwright Forrest Attaway is back in the lake area, having returned from a five-year sojourn in Alaska, where he’s been busy writing and producing his original one-act plays.
The 1992 Mabank High School graduate and class president says he is still finding his voice, though he has written some 50 short one-act plays and 10 full-length plays.
“I’m always writing – working on one piece or another,” he said.
Though his work reflects the many places he has known on his travels and the people he has met along the way, for the most part he writes about life in East Texas, he told The Monitor.
While on a four-month sabbatical to reconnect with “his roots,” Henderson County Performing Arts Center executive director Dennis Gilmore offered him a job, as the center’s educational director and to oversee its marketing efforts.
“I had been gone so long, I was afraid I was losing my authenticity,” he said.
Well that’s for his audiences to decide.
Three of his pieces are being featured during the center’s Black Box season, with performances set for April 7-9.
The contemporary series of performances are meant for mature audiences and attempts to portray modern-day issues and adult situations.
The first two one-acts are 10 - 20 minutes long.
The first, “Razorback,” is seldom seen in its entirety, as sections are portrayed as a “calling card,” Attaway said, to introduce his work to theatre critics and professionals.
Attaway has been selected to present his “calling card–Razorback” at the First Annual Great Plains Theatre Conference in Omaha, Neb. in May, hosted by the only three-time Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, Edward Albee.
It is being produced in its entirety for the HCPAC special performance.
He describes “Razorback” as a bit “disjointed and dark.” He believes in trying new things, though he admits his cynical tone doesn’t really change that much from piece to piece.
The next short, is called “Outta Beer, Outta Space,” a.k.a. “Jeb and Earl’s Galactic Adventure,” a very funny slapstick comedy about “two good ‘ole boys who get abducted by aliens on their way to buy beer,” he described.
Winner of the Northwest Drama Conference Award for Comedy, this one-act has been well received every place it has played.
Attaway is hoping for a similar response here.
The third one-act is brand new and runs for about 45 minutes, following the intermission.
Attaway describes his newest production as a sentimental piece about unfinished business, when a dead man’s ex-wife and the mother of his children meets his young girlfriend at the graveside.
“It’s a woman’s show,” he said.
Two fine actresses have been cast in the roles.
LaDonna Davis, who first won notoriety as the backbone for the Eustace High School drama department and then as the director of the Trinity Valley Community College drama program, plays the ex-wife.
A relatively young actress, Amber Broughton, who has played in several HCPAC musicals, plays the younger other woman.
“It’s by far the most sentimental of the three,” Attaway said.
He is hoping for good things to come of the upcoming Omaha conference, where Albee, along with other noted theater luminaries such as playwright Arthur Kopit, actress Patricia Neal and director Lloyd Richards, will critique Attaway’s “Razorback,” during the Memorial Day weekend conference.
“It (the conference) gives me (as a playwright) greater exposure to the national theatre community,” he said.
With one eye on his career, Attaway is also very excited about developing more theater opportunities for residents of the Cedar Creek Lake area, he said.
“I believe the lake area is ripe for live theatre and cultural growth,” he said.
Gilmore is giving him full rein to develop this vision.
A round of winter acting classes he presented at The Library at Cedar Creek Lake has recently finished, with plans for a summer session in the works.
He hopes to bring a few simple productions to the library for local audiences and participation.
Library director Marc Machand supports this idea 100 percent. “It would be phenomenal,” he told The Monitor.
Machand had spoken about getting a small theater group active here at the library several years ago.
“The most important thing is to expose people to theater who may have never experienced it before,” he said.
In connection with this effort, the Henderson County Performing Arts Center has named The Library at Cedar Creek Lake a co-beneficiary in its annual fund-raiser.
For every $35 ticket purchased by someone mentioning the library, $5 goes to the library, Attaway explained.
Table sponsorships by those mentioning the library also guarantee a portion of the cost gets allocated to the library.
This year’s dinner-theater event is set for Friday, April 21 at the Cain Center in Athens with cocktails at 6:30 p.m. and a 7:30 p.m. performance of “The Andrew Brothers,” a comedy spoof.
View Other Pages