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Tale of two strangers takes center stage

October 13, 2004

Photo of "Danny and the Deep Blue Sea" actors Aaron Buer and Alycia TomlinRhonnie Washington, associate professor of theatre arts, discovered several years ago that "Danny and the Deep Blue Sea" is pure gold.

He recalls a routine scene reading in his Acting Workshop II class that was admittedly going along at a ho-hum pace.

"But when we got to the scene from 'Danny and the Deep Blue Sea' something magical happened," Washington said. "Two actors, Emily Wilbur and Mark Larkin, who had been content to play the words, felt compelled to make the other actor change. They went to war with each other while everyone watched, in awe. That spark caused a chain reaction. My class was infected with 'the struggle.' Every scene was about making something happen."

Written by John Patrick Shanley, who won an Oscar for his screenplay "Moonstruck," "Danny" will run on campus from Oct. 14-17, 21-24 in the Little Theatre of the Creative Arts building.

The production is directed by Washington and features students Aaron Buer as Danny and Alycia Tomlin as Roberta. It begins as the two lonely outcasts meet in a run-down Bronx bar and begin a halting conversation. They talk and argue and ultimately share their most guarded secrets.

Theatre Arts doesn't often produce plays with such a small cast so Washington is excited about the chance to bring something unique to the SFSU stage. And, he says, he has two actors that are up to the task of such intense, demanding roles.

At Washington's prompting, Tomlin performed an excerpt from "Danny" as a monologue in one of his Acting Workshop II classes.

"Again, magic struck. She really seemed to know where Roberta lived," he said. "She connected with her immediately. I told her afterwards that if I ever got a chance to do the play, I’d give her a call. Neither of us thought it would actually happen."

Buer first caught Washington's eye in a Players Club production of "Raised in Captivity," and the professor was so impressed with the performance that he "put the word out" to encourage Buer to audition for the play. Buer did, and Washington had his Danny.

But even though Danny is the title character of the play, in the end it becomes clear that the title refers to Roberta. She is the one caught between Danny -- who offers to rescue her -- and the loneliness of the deep blue sea.

Tickets are $10 for the general public and $8 for students and seniors. Performances are at 8 p.m. Oct. 14-16 and 21-23 and at 2 p.m. Oct. 17 and 24. For tickets, contact the Creative Arts Box Office at (415) 338-2467.

-- William Morris


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Last modified October 13, 2004 by University Communications