CULTURE

Charles Evered Brings “Class” to the Falcon Theatre

0 Comments 26 March 2015

class falcon theater

Playwright and filmmaker Charles Evered talks mentors, the acting profession, and his play “Class,” opening late March at the Falcon Theater.

by Daniel Barron

 

At first, Elliott can’t place her as she invades his dreary New York acting studio. Disguised under big sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat, she says her name is Sarah and that she wishes to learn from the best, privately and well above his usual rate. He sourly rejects this request, dismissing her as a vapid amateur. What Elliott doesn’t know is that Sarah is no novice, but in fact a multi-millionaire Hollywood starlet. She yearns for legitimacy, he is covetous of her success, and over the course of a year these two very different people will form a bond that will change them both.

Such is the premise for Class, a new stage play making its West Coast premiere at Burbank’s Falcon Theatre on Friday, March 27th. Written by Charles Evered, it’s an honest, ground-level look behind the glamor of Tinsletown. “Even though the play deals with showbiz and actors I have found that it’s very relatable to other people,” he says in a phone interview from New Jersey.

 

class charles evered

Callie Schuttera and Gildart Jackson in Class at the Falcon Theatre. Photo by Jill Mamey.

Evered has been the playwright behind such acclaimed works as Running Funny and Adopt A Sailor, of which he also directed the film version. Now a professor of theater at UC Riverside, Class draws as much from his own experiences as an educator as it pays tribute to the three “spiritual fathers” who were formative to his development.
Raised in Rutherford, Evered’s love of theater was first seeded by an English teacher named Hugh Thomas. Unbeknownst to him at the time, Thomas was a prolific stage actor who was among the original 1960 cast of The Fantasticks. “He really taught me how to have courage in a place that isn’t necessarily accepting of that.”

His second big inspiration arrived when he studied drama at Yale under George Roy Hill, the Oscar-winning filmmaker behind such hits as The Sting and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Despite achieving substantial commercial gains, Hill’s populist sensibility was often disparaged around campus. It was a situation to which Evered could relate. “He was really the only professor that reached out to me and said, ‘Maybe you have something.’ He spent a lot of time with me on plays and giving me advice based off of his own experiences.”

His third mentor was Austin Pendleton, a character actor that he met at the Williamstown Theater Festival in Massachusetts. After a stint as an assistant, Evered would eventually become his Assistant Director, while Pendleton would go on to direct some of his pupil’s own plays.

“In their own way, they were all taskmasters. They were sort of intimidating and they didn’t suffer fools. They’re sort of all in the stew of this character Elliott that I created for the play.” says Evered.

 

charles evered class

Callie Schuttera and Gildart Jackson in Class at the Falcon Theatre. Photo by Jill Mamey.

If Elliott is drawn from Evered’s teachers, tabloid-fixture Sarah is reflective of his long experience working with actors. “What I’ve found is that almost all movie stars want to be great actors, but sometimes they’re just great movie stars. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s one of those ‘grass is always greener’ things.”

Critiquing the movie biz nothing new, and Evered describes his story as a balanced look at the profession. “It’s easy to make fun of [Hollywood]. I tried to give a point-of-view that people don’t usually see, which is that acting is a job, it’s not easy. Just because you’re famous doesn’t mean you’re dumb.”

Rather, Evered expresses sympathy for those involved in a notoriously mercurial craft. The key, he says, is to ignore industry standards and find a personal definition of success. “As a writer-director who has worked with some amazing actors and I just know that it all comes down to the work. Everything comes down to the scene between them and the other person onstage or the other person on film. If you concentrate on that it’s hard to go wrong.”

 

charles evered

Playwright Charles Evered.

Staying in the moment, himself, Evered is currently hard at work on a number of new projects he plans to debut later in the year. His film script Back, which he hopes to shoot in the fall, concerns a returning veteran who embarks on a road trip with a prom queen. This December will mark the opening of his play An Actor’s Carol, a comedic take on A Christmas Carol about an actor that’s played Ebenezer Scrooge too many times. He is also adapting Class into a film screenplay.

Our advice: don’t wait for the film version. Stay ahead of the curve and apply for Class now.

 

class falcon theater

Class opens Friday, March 27th and runs thru Sunday, April 19th. Get your tickets here.

NOTE: Ticketholders attending the April 2nd, 9th, or 16th Thursday performances are invited to participate in an informal Q & A discussion after the show with Charles Evered and director Dimitri Toscas, moderated by Garry Marshall.

 

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- who has written 419 posts on Yay! LA | Arts & Culture Magazine.

Rudderless college graduate Daniel Barron founded Yay! LA Magazine on a love of writing, passion for the arts, and a firm belief that people really like talking about themselves. He contributed to a number of publications, including LA Music Blog and the defunct The Site Unscene, before deciding to cover arts and entertainment the way he wanted to read it. He works as a freelance writer and digital PR consultant in his current home of Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter at @YayDanielBarron.

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