Santa Cruz Good Times

Thursday
Feb 11th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Far from Heaven

ae1Veteran solo performer revisits childhood trauma in ambitious one-man show

When an 8-year-old Mark Kenward and his family moved from Normal, Il., to Nantucket, Mass., they did so with quintessentially great expectations. “My parents moved us to an island with all the dreams you would expect of people moving to an island,” remembers the now-adult Kenward over three decades later. “Dreams of spending summer afternoons on the beach, and just having this life that’s away from the chaos of the mainland.”

Any such dreams came to an abrupt end, however, when Kenward was 16, and his mother committed a violent act that would ultimately shatter his family and send shockwaves through the community.

That event is the focal point of the solo show “Nantucket,” a simultaneously haunting and humorous stage memoir about Kenward’s coming-of-age on the fabled titular island. Written and performed by Kenward and directed by Rebecca Fisher, “Part One: Great Attempts on a Small Island” is being presented by WEST Performing Arts this weekend at Broadway Playhouse.

Whether consciously or not, the play has been decades in the making. “It was just a natural outgrowth from the work that I had been doing,” explains Kenward, who has been performing solo theater for 22 years. “I’ve done a lot of different kinds of shows—I’ve done adaptations of literature, I’ve done adaptations of history, and I’ve also done a number of shows that are autobiographical in nature, so at some point I knew I would be telling this particular story of my family.”

ae2NantucketSo how did Kenward decide that this was the right moment in his career—and life—to tell this uniquely personal story of his childhood? “Oh, boy,” sighs Kenward, responding with a deep exhale, “I don’t know.” He pauses for a thoughtful beat. “To be honest with you, I don’t know that there was ever going to be a time where I felt like, ‘Oh, boy, I can’t wait to tell that story,’ because it involves some difficult material from my childhood,” he says. “But at the same time, there are things about Nantucket that interest me because they relate to themes that I’ve always been excited about in my work; certain kinds of American themes, like the pursuit of happiness. So those sorts of things—how people live, what motivates them, and the idea of trying to move toward happiness—were really exciting to me when I started working on this a few years back.”

It’s a dense narrative rich in thematic potential, a veritable epic presented within the counterintuitively intimate confines of a solo show. “It’s been a fun—well, not fun—it’s been a creative challenge,” says Kenward. “I know that the story that I’m trying to tell cannot be told successfully in a conventional 70-minute one-man show—it needs more time than that, so I’ve experimented with different lengths.”

It’s not surprising, then, that the play was originally conceived and developed in a novelistic format—Kenward works from his own 300-page manuscript. “In some ways, the performance piece is an adaptation of the book,” he says.

He has presently settled on a two-part structure for his story, the second half of which he hopes to bring to Santa Cruz later this year. That said, Kenward emphasizes that “Part One” stands capably on its own, focusing primarily on his family’s journey to Nantucket, and especially the culture-shock that ensued after leaving behind Illinois and arriving on the island.

“New England’s temperament is a lot different than Midwestern sensibility, and a lot of the humor comes from me as a fish-out-of-water,” says Kenward. “Living on Nantucket can be tough—the winters are really gray and really long, it’s 30 miles out to sea, and there’s only 7,000 people living on the island. It’s a lonely place and it can be challenging for the psyche.”

As the show’s narrator, the present-day Kenward makes wryly perceptive observations regarding the history and culture of Nantucket’s isolated community, but the play also finds him interacting with and playing his younger self. And even decades later, Kenward recognizes some of himself in his younger incarnation. “I remember that person, and I have a lot of fondness for that kid,” he says. “But also, thank god I’m not there anymore.” 


‘Nantucket, Part One: Great Attempts on a Small Island’ will be performed at 8 p.m. June 7-8 at Broadway Playhouse, 526 Broadway St., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $15/general, $25/front row reserved. For tickets, visit brownpapertickets.com. For more information, visit markkenward.com or rebeccamfisher.com.

Comments (1)Add Comment
See this show!
written by steve c., June 08, 2013
See this show. You will not be disappointed. Wait, maybe you might because there's a part two that will be presented at a later date but, you want to know how it all turns out now. Then again this piece stands on its own mainly because of the brilliant writing and fluid performance.See this show. You will not be disappointed.

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Heart Me Up

In defense of Valentine’s Day

 

“be(ing) of love (a little) more careful”—e.e. cummings

Wednesday (Feb. 10) is Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins. Friday (Feb. 12) is Lincoln’s 207th birthday. Sunday is Valentine’s Day. On Ash Wednesday, with foreheads marked with a cross of ashes, we hear the words, “From dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return.” Reminding us that our bodies, made of matter, will remain here on Earth when we are called back. It is our Soul that will take us home again. Lent offers us 40 days and nights of purification in preparation for the Resurrection (Easter) festival (an initiation) and for the Three Spring Festivals (at the time of the full moon)—Aries, Taurus, Gemini. The New Group of World Servers have been preparing since Winter Solstice. The number 40 is significant. The Christ (Pisces World Teacher) was in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights prior to His three-year ministry. The purpose of this desert exile was to prepare his Archangel (light) body to withstand the pressures of the Earth plane (form and matter). We, too, in our intentional purifications and prayers during the 40 days of Lent, prepare ourselves (physical body, emotions, lower mind) to receive and be able to withstand the irradiation of will, love/wisdom and light streaming into the Earth at spring equinox, Easter, and the Three Spiritual Festivals. What is Lent? The Anglo-Saxon word, lencten, comes from an ancient spring festival, agricultural rites marking the transition between winter and summer. The seasons reflect changes in nature (physical world) and humanity responds with social festivals of gratitude and of renewal. There is a purification process, prayerfulness in nature and in humanity in preparation for a great flow of spiritual energies during springtime. Valentine’s Day: Aquarius Sun, Taurus moon. Let us offer gifts of comfort, ease, harmony, beauty and satisfaction. Things chocolate and golden. Venus and Taurus things.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Making Dreams

Coen brothers salute vintage Hollywood in sly comedy ‘Hail, Caesar!’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Pub Watch

Mega gastro pub-in-progress at the Old Sash Mill, plus the best pasta dish downtown

 

How do you know love is real?

When you feel the groove in your heart and you’re inspired to dance. Becca Bing, Boulder Creek, Teacher

 

Temple of Umami

Watsonville’s Miyuki is homestyle cooking, Japanese-style

 

How would you stop people from littering?

Teach them from the time that they’re small that it’s not an appropriate behavior. Juliet Jones, Santa Cruz, Claims Adjuster