Tuesday, October 9, 2007

unCommon Cause's "As Far As We Know"

refers to a press conference held on Sept. 25, 2007

Kelly van Zile, producer, director and actress with the unCommon Cause Theatre Collective, is doing everything she can to get the group’s play, As Far As We Know, into a theater near you, short of making it into a musical or offending the real-life family on whom the play is based.

The play had an initial run during the Fringe Festival, a New York City multi-media festival, in August as one of 200 shows.

“I think the play deserves to have a bigger audience,” van Zile said today at a news conference. “I’m willing to hear what the artistic compromises might be and listen to them.”

unCommon Cause has now joined-up with commercial producer Jed Bernstein, former president of the League of Broadway Producers, and have two options for the future: either to try and go the commercial route and get to Broadway, or to try to receive grants from more experimental groups like The Public Theater or the Culture Project and stay downtown.

“We’re just trying to leave all our options open now,” she said.

As Far As We Know deals with the story of Private Keith “Matt” Maupin of Ohio, one of the only unaccounted-for American soldiers in Iraq to date and the subject of a 2004 profile in Time. Maupin was kidnapped by insurgents in 2004, and was subsequently seen on two videotapes aired by Al Jazeera. The second allegedly featured his execution, but because of the video’s grainy quality the army declared it to be inconclusive evidence of his death. Maupin remains officially missing and has even been promoted thrice, in absentia.

The play is a fictionalized account of the toll the ordeal has taken on his family. Maupin’s character has been renamed Jake Larkin, and Maupin’s real-life brother has been transformed into a twin sister, played by van Zile.

Van Zile and the play’s director, Laurie Sales, have met with the family, but the Maupins are not involved in the production.

“We told them we’re doing a play,” van Zile said, “and that’s the last thing we ever said to them.”

To get the show on Broadway, the producer told van Zile that unCommon Cause would need to do one of three things: get a major director, a big star or a well-known writer on board.

“Kelly van Zile’s certainly not going to sell $85 tickets,” she admitted.

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