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Provincetown :: Wednesday, April 23rd 2014

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What's up at WHAT

Notes from Land's End: Apr. 4


April 4th, 2012

In 1985, a group of young actors and directors took over an old nightclub tucked along Wellfleet’s harbor for a one-night production of Ionesco’s RHINOCEROUS. Since that fortuitous performance, The Wellfleet Harbor Actor’s Theater, known as WHAT, has created over 120 productions, received multiple awards and built the extraordinary Julie Harris Stage. This premiere facility is now used year-round for live performance, streaming opera, cinema and offseason programming.

This month, Provincetown resident and playwright Meryl Cohn is participating in the lab with her play-in-progress THE FINAL SAY.

One of their fabulous winter events is WHATlab, an invitational play development intensive that supports new works for American theater. This month, Provincetown resident and playwright Meryl Cohn is participating in the lab with her play-in-progress THE FINAL SAY. For five days, she will immerse herself into a creative laboratory with six actors, director David Drake and WHAT’s Dan Lombardo as the dramaturg. “We will hear readings of the play and I'll rework it based on what comes up in the process,” says Cohn. The lab ends with a staged reading of the re-worked piece, followed by a “TalkBack” with an audience.

“In some ways, THE FINAL SAY is my most serious play, but there are still a lot of comedic moments,” remarks Cohn. Protagonist Betsy Goldstein might finally get her play about her grandmother’s war heroism produced-- if only PEARL THE DIVINE: HOLOCAUST SUPERSTAR weren't just about to open. When Betsy learns that the upcoming musical has an oddly similar story line and was written by her former mentor, she must decide how far to go to protect her play and her beloved grandmother’s story.

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Who owns a story? Can an idea really be stolen? This new comedy/drama attempts to answer those questions.

Cohn’s plays often blend feelings from opposite ends of the emotional spectrum. Her 2006 play “Naked with Fruit” followed four women confronted simultaneously with loss and love, while her 2005 play “And Sophie Comes Too” explored the liberating experience of becoming who you are against the backdrop of loved ones' constraining wishes. She splits her time between Provincetown and Northampton, MA.

The public is welcome to attend WHATlab’s staged reading and “TalkBack” for THE FINAL SAY on Saturday, April 14th, at the Julie Harris stage in Wellfleet beginning at 7:00p.m.

In 2011, the formidable Artistic Director Jeff Zinn moved on to explore other opportunities after twenty-three years developing WHAT into a powerhouse regional theater. Three men have come forward to maintain a legacy of excellence. Bruce Beinhans is the President and CEO, Dan Lombardo is the new Artistic Director and Provincetown resident Jeffry George just accepted the position of Executive Director. It’s clear that WHAT is in good hands as the theater enters its 2012 season.

“Notes from Lands End”, by artistic bon vivant Laura Shabott, is a weekly account of the people, places and events that make our town so special.

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