SPARE’s Letter Writing: So Different and So Fantastic

 Cast members Samantha Heatherman, Eli Carlin, and Darius Fuller in rehearsal for  Letter Writing .

Cast members Samantha Heatherman, Eli Carlin, and Darius Fuller in rehearsal for Letter Writing.

SPARE Productions is thrilled to announce our late-summer 2016 play: a new work by SPARE member Marisa Valent, Letter Writing. Valent, who is also directing the show, and her cast say the production is a chance for a different kind of collaboration than the ones usually afforded in Binghamton’s theater community.

“It’s an original play, so everyone should come!” said cast member Darius Fuller. “It might be your only chance to see it.”

Valent, who wrote the play and directed a campus version of it as part of her theatrical studies at LeMoyne College in Syracuse, says this Binghamton production is a chance for a different perspective on the work – even for her.

“The Letter Writing that we performed at LeMoyne College was the first time it had been performed,” she explained. “I’ve been able to workshop it since then, and the cast and crew that are putting this show on in Binghamton are just bringing so many new and creative ideas to the table.”

Letter Writing centers on five college freshmen as they navigate the various clichés that a first time away from home can bring – but each with its own twist. SPARE Productions board member Brian Ives says the show just felt right when the company considered it last fall.

“Marisa is a huge part of our organization to begin with, so we obviously trusted her to bring us something great here,” he said. “But beyond that, this a story that we are particularly well-equipped to tell. It’s a story that a lot of our artists can relate to.”

SPARE was founded in 2012 to provide opportunities in stagecraft for college students home on academic breaks. The non-profit organization has expanded well beyond that initial vision in the four years since and now has members “from 14 to 74,” Ives explains, but still retains a core group of volunteer artists around the college age.

“Our members know what this play speaks about,” he said. “If they don’t personally relate to one of the characters, they probably know someone who does.”

With under a week until performances begin, cast member Fuller says it’s all about his character and the onstage relationships between the cast now.

“It’s making sure, not only do we know the lines, but also that we know why we’re saying them,” he said, “what purpose we have behind our characters.”

Writer-director Valent agrees, adding that SPARE’s production is full of surprises that keep her, as a writer, on her toes.

“With these new actors, I’m finding new pieces of characterization that I didn’t even know existed,” she said. “As a director and a writer, it’s just fantastic to see the characters brought to life in this different way.”

Even those cast members with smaller parts are giving it their all – something Fuller highlighted when we spoke with him.

“Jordan Walker – he really creates an entire character for being an ensemble member,” said Fuller. “He’s really fun to watch – for not having a ton to work with, he creates an entire story for himself.”

Fuller also highlighted the work done by Samantha Heatherman, who plays Holly, while Valent named Eli Carlin, the production’s Michael, as someone who brings new depth to the work.

“He has some of the most ridiculous jokes, some really outlandish opinions,” she said, “and the way that Eli brings him to life onstage is remarkable.”

Valent, a young artist herself, is relishing this chance to bring her stories to life.

“To hear other people reading these thoughts that I’ve been able to put on paper is amazing,” she said, “because they just put this incredible twist on it that I don’t think I could’ve ever done myself, and I think that’s what makes it so different and so fantastic.”

Fuller had one last appeal for anyone interested:

“Support local artists!” he implored, driving home the point that SPARE’s production is by and for the Binghamton community.

Performances will be 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 18th; Friday, August 19th; and Saturday, August 20th, at the Cider Mill Playhouse in Endicott. Tickets are $15.00 for adults, $10.00 for students and seniors, and can be purchased by visiting https://cidermillplayhouse.thundertix.com/ or calling (607) 748-7363.

For general information, visit www.spareproductions.org or call (607) 542-9057. Audience members are advised that this production contains mature content.

Funding is provided, in part, by a project grant from the Broome County Arts Council’s United Cultural Fund.

Cast members and production staff will be available to speak with the press before our dress rehearsal on Wednesday, August 17th.

Media contact: Brian Ives, Communications and Publicity Director; publicity@spareproductions.org. 

Full Cast List:

Alice – Kileen McLeary
Anna – Natalie DeBoer
Holly – Samantha Heatherman
Michael – Eli Carlin
James – Darius Fuller

Ensemble:

Zariah Walton
Jordan Walker
Shaun McManus
Marisa Kreidler