Santa Cruz Good Times

Thursday
Mar 26th
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

 

Best of Santa Cruz 2015

In 40 years of publishing, Good Times has seen a lot of “bests.”

 

Spring Triangle: Three Spring Festivals—Aries, Taurus, Gemini

The Spring signs Aries, Taurus and Gemini constitute a triangle of force that sets the template for the nine signs that follow and the template for the entire year (Spring 2015 - Spring 2016) ahead. Aries initiates new ideas, Taurus stabilizes the new thinking of Aries and Gemini takes the initiating stabilized ideas of Aries/Taurus and disperses them to all of humanity. It is in this way that humanity learns new things, with the help of Mercury, the messenger. As Spring unfolds, three elements emerge: the Fire of Aries (initiating new ideas), the Earth of Taurus (anchoring the ideas of God through Mercury) and the Air of communicating Gemini. These three signs/elements are the Three Spring Festivals. They are the “triangle of force” forming the template (patterns) of energy for the upcoming new year. After these three we then have the soothing, calming, warming, nurturing and tending waters of the mother (Cancer). Cancer initiates our next season under the hot suns of summer. Planets, stars and signs create the Temple of Light directing humanity towards all things new. March 29 is Palm Sunday, when the Christ, World Teacher, was led into Jerusalem (City of Peace) on a donkey (humility). Palms waving above His head, signified recognition of the Christ’s divinity. Palm Sunday is the Sunday before the Easter (Resurrection Festival). Palm Sunday begins Holy Week, the week of capture, imprisonment, passion, sacrifice, crucifixion, death and resurrection of the christ. All events in the Christ’s life represent events (initiations) that humanity experiences through many lifetimes. We turn our attention to these holy events this week. Their concepts portray and reveal to us greater spiritual understanding. Then, Aries, the “light of life itself” shines through us.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

The Magic Touch

Stage magician vs. charlatans in engaging ‘An Honest Liar’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Spring Spirits

Sean Venus’ gin straight up, remembering Rosa’s and a tasting of Hungarian wines

 

What’s your favorite most recent outdoor discovery in Santa Cruz?

A hike that’s across from Waddell Beach. I didn’t realize you could go across the highway and do a super simple loop, and it’s beautiful. You can see the coastline. Liz Porter, Santa Cruz, Community Outreach

 

Martin Ranch Winery

Muscat 2012

 

Front Street Kitchen

Pop-up spot attracts paleo crowd with locally sourced low-carb meals