by Alec Clayton for OLY ARTS
In mid-January 2017, Olympia Little Theatre will produce a staged reading of A Lollard in the Wind: Chaucer’s Dilemma by local actor-turned-playwright John Pratt. Pratt was most recently seen in the leading role, Arthur Putnam, in OLT’s An Act of the Imagination.
Based in part on Chaucer’s stories from The Canterbury Tales, Lollard is a period drama with comic elements. In each of the three acts, Chaucer receives a guest in his home on the property of Westminster Abbey. In the first act his guest is an old friend, Sir Lewis Clifford, a crusader and veteran of warfare with France. In the second act Chaucer’s son, Thomas, drops in for a visit. In the final act Chaucer is confronted by a member of the clergy.
Pratt says all the play’s characters were real people. “We know something about the activities of these people, but less of their character,” he says. “That gives the playwright much opportunity to develop the way they think and opportunity to guess at the gaps in their bios.”
Pratt toured the Globe Theatre in London six years ago. “Our guide,” he recalls, “a young man in his 20s, entertained us quite well, but at the end of his presentation about Shakespeare and the theater, he praised the Bard of Avon by denigrating Chaucer. He said, ‘Chaucer is dead. Nobody reads him anymore.’ My son looked at me and whispered, ‘Are you going to let him get away with this?’…So I thought I would do my bit, on the local level at least, to try to bring Chaucer back into focus. This play, six years and 15 drafts later, is ready for presentation.”
The cast includes Christopher Valcho as Geoffrey Chaucer, Austin Houston as Chaucer’s son Thomas, Jim Patrick as Sir Lewis Clifford, Tom Riedlinger as Adam of Usk and George Wood as Archbishop Arundel. The ensemble actors playing multiple roles are Lynn Couch, Hannah Eklund, Tre Gambrell, Meghan Goodman, Bonnie Vandver, Jessie Weaver and Wyatt Wilson.
What: A Lollard in the Wind: Chaucer’s Dilemma
Where: Olympia Little Theatre,
1925 Miller Ave., Olympia
When: 7:25 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Jan. 13-14;
1:55 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 15
How much: $5-$7
Learn more: 360-786-9484 | Artful.ly