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Monday, Feb. 16, 2015

IMPROPER INSPECTIONS

Audience to witness serious emotions

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Tickets went on sale Feb. 17 for the Shreveport Little Theatre production of Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons.” Directed by Richard Folmer, the drama is based on an event involving aircraft parts during World War II.

The event involved the Wright Aeronautical Corporation plant in Lockland, Ohio. In 1943, a committee headed by Sen. Harry S. Truman investigated complaints of improper inspection practices which resulted in defective engines and parts being delivered to the government. A preliminary inquiry indicated that there was evidence the Army and company officials should have been aware of the problems. In 1944, three Army Air Force officers were relieved of duty and later convicted of dereliction of duty.

In Miller’s play, defective parts are also supplied to the Army Air Force resulting in pilot fatalities. The owner of the plant that made the parts and his partner are arrested, but only Joe Keller, the owner, is exonerated.

Folmer was asked by SLT Managing and Artistic Director Robert Darrow what he would like to direct this season, and he picked “All My Sons” as one of the shows he will stage. He acknowledged that many equate Miller with heavy drama, but he sees other attributes as well.

“I’m a big fan of character-driven dramas.

I’m a fan of [Arthur Miller’s] writing. The way that he can build characters and build relationships. The way he puts a family together not only brings out the drama, but also brings out the humor that you find in a family. It makes the humor a part of the reality so it’s not just sturm und drang. It is a dramatic story, and all of these characters are facing a dramatic situation, but they do it in such a way that is relatable to an audience.” He said most people face a difficult situation at some time in their lives, and how they chose to deal with it is the stuff of which drama is made.

Folmer said, despite the subject matter the play remains relevant. “I think it’s an up to date approach, even though it’s set in the ’40s,” Folmer said. “The screw-ups that happen in the military affect the families of the people that screw up. Gen. Petraeus, big hero overseas. He screws up, we hear all about that in the news. What do we hear about when they sit down to have breakfast? How does that family deal with that kind of a thing? Anytime a problem comes to a family, the way they deal with it, to me, is very interesting.”

The SLT production stars Shawn Dion as Joe Keller, Ginger Folmer as Kate Keller, Miles Oliver as Chris Keller, and Cara Johnston as Ann Deever. In support are Sloan Folmer, Bo Harris, Debbie Posey, David McCart, Holly McCart and Matthew Born. This production unites the Folmers in a single production in a unique way.

While they have shared a show in various capacities before, this is the first time that Sloan will have dialog with his real mother in performance.

Asked what the hardest part of putting a serious drama on stage, Folmer said it was keeping the audience in mind. “It’s our job to tell them the story and touch their emotions. Whether they are dramatic emotions, serious emotions and humorous emotions. All of those emotions come out of a reality of the situation. Getting to that point can be the most difficult thing to do.”

He also said it was important to avoid stereotypes. “It’s not buying into the heavy drama that is very easy to slip into. In any kind of drama, there is a serious elephant in the room. But, that’s not how we deal with the elephant in the room as real people. We deal with it in totally different ways. I think you can fall into that pit of playing to the end of the show. You’ve got to play it moment to moment, like it’s real, like it’s really happening. But, in order to get the drama, you got to get the giggle. In order for an audience to react to the drama you’ve gotta have the giggle.”

Will they get the drama with this show?

Folmer said he’s confident in his cast who are finding the drama and the humor and thinks it will pay off for the audiences. “I think the audience will go out of here having seen a really good show. They will be moved. They will relate to the family dynamic.”

For ticket information, go to www.shreveportlittletheatre.com or call 424-4439.

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