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TheaterMasksOver the last few months I’ve been involved with a project to launch a quirky new community theater company in Newton.  The concept behind the Newton Nomadic Theater is that we will produce simply staged plays at a variety of non-conventional spaces around Newton.  Like nomads,we’ll travel light with our supplies on our backs and move from place to place.

We’ve been planning the first production for a three week run starting at the end of Sept in three locations (Upper Falls, Lower Falls, and Newton Center).  This past month, the cast has been rehearsing “The Faith Healer” by Brian Friel and all was going well.  Coincidentally, one of  the actors has been acting this month in a different Brian Friel play.

As today’s Boston Globe reported, Stephen Cooper has been performing in “Translations” at the Calderwood Pavillion’s Robberts Studio Theatre.  At this past Sunday’s performance, just before the curtain call, Stephen plummeted from a catwalk high above the stage and was badly injured.  Stephen’s got a long recovery ahead of him with broken bones and injuries to ankle, knees and back.   Everyone was shocked and rattled by the freak accident particularly because we’ve all known Stephen for a long time and the other actors and director have worked with him over the years.

In the aftermath of all this, we’ve had to decide how or if to proceed with the production of “The Faith Healer”.  Yesterday, the company agreed that we’ll proceed as planned with the Nomadic Theatre’s first production and scramble to quickly cast a replacement for Stephen.  It’s going to be tough because Stephen was perfectly cast and had already done a fair amount of work and prep for  the role.


As the production gets closer I’ll be sure to post more info on Village14 about the play, the cast and the theater.   In the meantime though, here’s a quick summary.

“The Faith Healer” by Brian Friel is a dark and compelling piece of theater by one Ireland’s leading playwrights.  It tells the story of Frank, an itinerant faith healer,  his wife Grace, and manager Teddy  as they travel round the rural countryside in the British Isles.

The play will run on Friday and Saturday nights for  three weeks.

9/26 –  9/27 at Carriage House Violins in Upper Falls

10/3 –  10/4 at Gregorian Rugs in Lower Falls

10/10 –  10/11 at First Baptist Church in Newton Centre (tentative)

I’ve taken on the role of producer but all the other members are seasoned theater pros.  I must say, so far I’ve been enjoying my producer role, especially since I get to sleep with the director.

* Linda Goetz is an Upper Falls resident and one of the founders of the theater.   She’s worked in countless productions in the Boston area.  Her most recent Shakespearean role as Lady Macbeth earned her a nomination for Best Actress by the Independent Reviewers of New England.

* Dave Rich – is a community theater veteran who’s worked primarily on the North Shore at the Salem Theater Company, Marblehead Little Theater, and the Mugford Street Players in a wide variety of roles.

* ??? —  Stephen Cooper’s replacement

The director of September’s production of “Faith Healer” is Marie Jackson who’s had a long career in both film and theater, both in Boston and in Ireland.  She’s written and produced children’s films sold round the world, directed videos for Van Morrison, directed and acted in plays in and around Boston … and oh yes, she’s also my wife.



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