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Performing Arts

Durango Arts Repertory Theatre stages ‘Wish You Were Here’

Paul Laakso, left, and Jeff Cordell rehearse a scene from “Wish You Were Here,” the latest production by Durango Arts Repertory Theatre. (Courtesy of Jason Lythgoe)
New production inspired by vintage postcards

Great ideas can come from anywhere at any time. In the case of Durango Arts Repertory Theatre’s latest production, “Wish You Were Here,” those ideas have come from vintage postcards.

The show, which opens tonight at Durango Arts Center, features seven scripts by playwrights from Durango and around the country. Each writer got to choose a postcard as the starting point of their script.

The theme of “Wish You Were Here” was developed by DART Artistic Director Jason Lythgoe.

“There are endless possibilities from a single postcard,” he said in a news release. “You can give two playwrights the same postcard and they’ll come up with radically different scripts.”

Lythgoe said he got the idea for using postcards as prompts from a theater company he was a member of about 20 years ago in California. The artistic director’s father collected old postcards, he said, and the idea came up about doing plays based on some of them. Writers gathered around the box, reached in and picked one and then they were tasked with writing as the person who was writing the postcard, the person who received the postcard or something else totally different – anything that would spark that writer’s imagination from that real-life moment that was on that postcard, he said.

If you go

WHAT: “Wish You Were Here,” presented by the Durango Arts Repertory Theatre.

WHEN: 7 p.m. July 15, 16, 21, 22 and 23; 2 p.m. July 17.

WHERE: Durango Arts Center, 802 East Second Ave.

TICKETS: $15. Available online at https://bit.ly/3ccrUaF.

MORE INFORMATION: Visit durangoarts.org.

The DART version is a little different. In this case, instead of mystery postcards, Lythgoe found a handful of vintage cards, scanned them and sent them to writers he thought might be interested in participating.

“I’d go to the antique market downtown, find the little section of postcards and start looking through them and find ones that had writing on them that we could read, or that made sense, because a lot of them are just little bits of information or something that you couldn’t really take and turn into a story. So, I vetted some of them out,” he said. “We’ve got a nice, big stack of about 30, 40 of them now and we’ll start doing this more and more – there are so many more to choose from, which is nice. What’s really cool is if two people pick the same postcard, the script is going to be completely different. And, in fact, two of the scripts were written based on the same postcard and they are completely different types of scripts – one’s like a three-person film noir on stage, and one’s this wacky lady doing a monologue. So it’s really nice to see, even the same source material get turned into something, two things that are completely different.”

Putting on a play like this requires a number of moving parts, which is challenging, Lythgoe said. Along with the seven different scripts, there are six playwrights, four directors and 12 cast members to keep track of – and while it’s tough logistically, it’s also a lot of fun, he said: “It really just kind of feels like this great in-house and community project that we all get to play with.”


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