“In the time of a global pandemic, a community gathers online and starts sharing their memories of school lunches. The Good, the Bad, and the Leftovers. These memories of the past and a little bit of fantasy will help them get through the present.”
Instead of talking about how I got involved as an editor for this project, I thought it would be best to share this press release with the full story.
NAMRON Players Theatre announces the premiere of its new Oklahoma StoryWorks production, Lunch Box, on Depot TV on Facebook at 5 pm on June 4th.
Imagine, if you had spent nine months conducting workshops, seminars and over 50 interviews with individuals, families and groups to collect their stories of school lunch. Then you spend weeks distilling those stories down into a 90 minute script for public premiere in June by a company of Oklahoma professional actors.
The culmination of 11 months of work was on the horizon.
And then someone cancelled June.
This is what happened in mid-March to NAMRON Players Theatre’s Playwright-in-Residence and Artistic Director Sheryl Martin.
Almost immediately, Sheryl announced on Facebook, “We are going to do it online.”
She set about doing a complete rewrite of the script, a script that was then rehearsed online and recorded independently from the homes and studios of the acting company, and, finally, is being edited into a video production for air on June 4 at 5pm.
Thanks to a grant from the Oklahoma Arts Council, Oklahoma professional actors Jane Gibbons, Terry Veal, Richard Lockett, Kathy Kelley Christos and Sue Ellen Reiman are featured in the production, with “cameo” appearances by local favorites Kym Bracken and Nicholas Bartell, and the debut of recent Norman North High graduate, Moira Mosely. A Norman Arts Council Arts Projects Grant, and private donors, covered the research and writing of the script for production.
Central to the creation of this new video is the work of Dennis Spielman of The Show Starts Now Studios, who volunteered his services to Norman arts organizations through the efforts of the Norman Arts Council and its Norman Arts & Humanities Roundtable. Dennis introduced the idea of producing the play as a series of vlogs, or video logs, recorded by the individual characters / actors. Local painter, sculptor, and scenic artist, Laura Sullivan, will provide some very special artwork for the production as well.
“I could not have wished for more talented, competent, and inspiring people to work with,” Sheryl says. “They took the script and brought it to life—everyone has made brilliant suggestions that have found their way into the show that you’ll see.”
Lunch Box, while a documentary play much like her first community-based script ,Potluck, differs from the earlier work in a fundamental way, Martin says.
“Changing the medium by which we delivered the play changed the way the play had to work.
“It went from being very presentational, with actors telling what are plainly other peoples’ stories, to being a show in which characters tell their own stories. But those stories are still the stories of folks in our community.”
The Depot has been a collaborative partner with Ms. Martin since the inception of the Oklahoma StoryWorks program in 2018. The Depot was scheduled to be the venue for Lunch Box, but that live premiere was cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions. For this reason, and many more, The Depot then offered to host the premiere of Lunch Box on its new enterprise, Depot TV, which airs on Facebook.
Lunch Box will remain on Depot TV for up to a week after the June 4 premiere. NAMRON Players Theatre also plans to stream the broadcast on its YouTube channel as well as other platforms.
“We had planned to offer a video element to our original theatrical productions,” Norman Hammon, Managing Director, “but, we had originally planned that to be a few seasons away. COVID-19 changed all of that.”
“It’s been too exciting a process to regret not doing it live,” Martin adds. “That said, I think we’ve created a show that will stand on its own, and that we can perform live, even after this crisis is past.”
NAMRON Players Theatre and the Oklahoma StoryWorks Project: Lunch Box are made possible through the generous support of the Norman Arts Council / Arts Projects Grant Program, the Oklahoma Arts Council Project Assistance Small Grant Program / National Endowment for the
Arts, the Kirkpatrick Foundation, Armstrong Bank, 2×4 Productions, The Depot, The Show Starts Now Studios, David Slemmons and the Friends of NAMRON.