The Cabin


One asks: how can such a young person already be staging plays? Caity Shea Violette, now a senior at UMD, may have had a hand up. Her high school was St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists. Violette’s “The Cabin” runs through this weekend and will finish its Play Ground world premiere Saturday, September 22, 7:30pm.

A one-act story of a steadfast, gentle but out-of-touch father and his skittish, tortured daughter, the tale describes how unresolved childhood suffering can cripple us. It also shows that sharing our pain can be the way through.

Violette uses action and dialogue counterposed with soliloquy. Actor Paul George Waterman plays James, father of Kim. Down-to-earth Waterman convinces me. He’s the substrate of a reliable but distant dad. He soliloquizes first, a funny speech about getting old. Young Violette must be very observant or else have good sources, because she hits the nail on the head.

Daughter Kim, somewhere in her late 20’s, meets her Dad at their cabin, which he’s preparing to sell. Her Mom is dead, and she begrudgingly goes through things to help her dad decide what to keep, what to sell, what to give away.

Violette makes her characters real, with remarks about the inappropriateness of drinking something cold out of a mug, or Kim’s cynical, comical explanation of her corporate job. Kim, played by Elizabeth Efteland, is a bitter woman, unhappy in her job, unhappy in her marriage (she calls her husband her roommate). She carries great sorrow for the fact that her mother lived only a short time at home when Kim grew up.

Efteland delivers a touching soliloquy about seeing her mother after long last when Kim is eight years old. Mom is in an institution. We learn: her mother was an artist who saved all of Kim’s childhood art down to the macaroni pieces; how mom read her “Katie and the Snow Plow” every night; how they both chased butterflies in the yard.
The void from not having her mother long with her is immense. The tragedy of her mother’s illness has left both father and daughter mute. “The Cabin” is a play about opening up the unfulfilled holes we carry, and about beginning to look at them together.

Kevin Kling and Simone Perrin At the Weber

Bill Payne, recently appointed UMD Dean of Fine Arts, began his 2012-2013 season with a coup. He gave us actor/playwright/storyteller Kevin Kling and actor/composer/musician Simone Perrin in a fun  evening for the entire family. Not only that, it was an affordable evening, because Payne accessed an endowment that allowed the tickets to be nominally priced.  

A surprise to me, the show featured two performances by the UMD Fine Arts Academy Fiddlers. These were scads of little fiddlers, bass and cello doing fiddle favorites like “Old Joe Clark”. Simone sang and Kling added mouth organ.
Kling’s description of his Grandma’s Marathoning began his story set. He is a funny man. Between each story, Simone sang, accompanying herself on pushbox. Kling’s description of his German American grandmom reminded me of my own German American mom: she’d give her love out a little at a time, and fast, or you’ll miss it.

Simone Perrin likes to sing in French: “Non, rien de rien”; her rendition of “These Boots Are Made for Walkin” made me for the first time listen to the lyrics.
Kling had a terrific goat-as-homecoming queen story, special to me because I used to have Nubians. He spoke of his disabilities throughout the evening, associating the dis- with Dante: a foot in two worlds, admitting his losses are something “you gravitate towards to embrace”.
My first time to enjoy Kling, other than his and Chris Monroe’s book:”Big Little Brother”. Thanks to Bill Payne for a wonderful night.