John Morogiello yearns, lives and breathes theater. Stories I May Not Tell is a sneak peek in the mind of a playwright so stuffed with story ideas that characters and scenes cascade out of him in waves of exuberant expressions.
Talking to the audience presentation style, Morogiello provides one of the most effective enactments of what are the core essential elements of a play that I’ve experienced. It all boils down to a main character, or somebody wants something to set the motivation, but must overcome obstacles along the way, to resolve and then get to conclusion. With these simple concepts, Morogiello covers motivation, intent, journey, obstacle, climax, resolution, all with exuberant and entertaining anecdotes, and Lots of jokes.
His first example, the story of Cinderella, works beautifully and his easy-going manner invokes audience participation (a few invited guests in his Gaithersburgh theatre) and hilarious quips along the way. Sure, we all know the story, but he frames the segments with head-smacking clarity that explains the structural mechanics of satisfying moments. Same thing with Toy Story and Wizard of Oz. The favorites are favorites for a reason, and it’s fun to get ideas why.
With the basic elements under our belts, Morogiello shares scene ideas for three plays that he’s been contemplating that have been swirling in his head for years. His descriptions and portrayals bring the characters and scenes to life in front of our eyes.
“Founding Fathers” sheds fascinating new light on Benjamin Franklin –spoiler alert, an illegitimate child, William, wreaks havoc on Franklin’s American Revolutionary ideas by being a loyalist to the crown! Who Knew? Morogiello has a way of excavating historical tidbits and presenting in captivating character interactions. Here he sets up the premise and wonders aloud about its challenges to complete and stage.
In “Teaching Artist” a white substitute teacher assigned to a classroom of “challenged and challenging” students guides them to present a final class performance project. Morogiello sets up the students’ precocious and sometimes exasperating personalities, and shows that a little attention and care go a long way to impact their lives. He carefully steers clear of stereotypes and also candidly admits concerns about taking undue liberties with these different perspectives and points of view. It’s refreshing to see such respect for inner city/ urban voices and experiences. He wonders if he’ll continue, and hopefully he will.
The final story, “This God-Blest Country” inspired by his wife’s father’s legacy shows the range of Morogiello’s reach. He sets up and portrays a young protagonist in 1940’s Germany trying to stay true to his core beliefs while the tide of Nazi mentality slowly creeps along the edges of neighbors and communities. Morogiello is riveting as adolescent Walter who escapes being rounded up with others sent off to prison camps or worse. His quest to make it to America is harrowing, and the actual life experiences ratchet up the tension and stakes. The climax in sight, Morogiello struggles to capture so much in a script. Is it a play? Does it work? It’s a lot, the voices and stories still jumble around in his head, and his wrestling with what to do sheds light on the entire process all while sharing a tale that touches to the core.
Teaser video for Stories I May Not Tell
The digital stream format is engaging with camera operation by Stan Levin, who also directed, and Betsy Morogiello at the helm.
“Stories I May Not Tell” is a small yet satisfying theatrical portal providing insight about the foundational structure of the theater experience that you’ll remember long after the pandemic runs its course and we’re hopefully back to the boards and footlights.
Tickets for Stories I May Not Tell are $10. Available here.
Stories I May Not Tell (or Somebody Wants, But, So, Then) by John Morogiello . Directed and Edited by Stan Levin. Featuring John Morogiello . Sound Design: Stan Levin, Karen Dugard . Stage Manager: Karen Dugard . Produced by Best Medicine Rep . Reviewed by Debbie Minter Jackson.
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