Tonight, I had the unique opportunity to attend the KNOW Theatre’s preview event of their world premiere play, “Pluto,” opening next Friday, January 24th. The script mixes contemporary drama with mythology, special effects, and symbolism to explore “tragedy, loss, and the way love can blind us to the truth.”
Producing Artistic Director, Eric Vosmeier, hosted the event in The Underground, the KNOW’s bar and lounge area. He welcomed “The Club of Jacksons” members attending as well as other donors who assisted in the renovations recently made in the theater’s large, comfortable lobby.
Vosmeier was joined on stage by the director, Jason Bruffy, scenic and lighting designer Andrew Hungerford, costume designer Noelle Wedig, and props and stage manager Kristen Ruthemeyer. Sound designer Doug Borntrager was unable to attend but Bruffy talked about the soundtrack for the play and how they arrived at the choices made on his behalf.
Vosmeier announced that the KNOW is now an associate member of the National New Play Network, an accomplishment in the works for several years. This allows for new plays to premiere in places like the KNOW without requiring the expense of commissioning new work. “Pluto” is part of a “rolling” world premiere, which allows for several different theaters to stage the show also allowing the playwright to see his work come to life in various stages, with various concepts and ideas. Bruffy talked about some of his history with both the playwright and the KNOW and how all of the stars seemed to align to manifest in his involvement with this production.
Also present was the cast who were heading into rehearsal once the tour of the set was completed. This talented group will feature equity actors Ken Early, Annie Fitzpatrick, and Torie Wiggins as well as two NKU students making their KNOW debuts, Wesley Carman and Lauren Hayes. Vosmeier talked about how fortunate audiences in Cincinnati are to have Wiggins residing here again full time and I agree. She is brilliant and one of my favorites in town. Her work in “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” at the KNOW as well as her turn as Calpurnia in “To Kill a Mockingbird” at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company were brilliant and while I regretfully didn’t see it, she was praised by critics for her work in “The Black Pearl Sings.”
There were powerpoint presentations from several of the technical artists, which were brief but informative without giving away the key plot points of this new work. Wedig talked about how she was able to use her sculpting talents to create an antique scuba diving suit, as well as using conventional fashion design to dress the characters appropriately for the time and setting of the play. Hungerford, who will be taking the reigns from Vosmeier soon, showed concept drawings that developed into schematics and were then used to create the set by Technical Director Nick Koehlke. I was especially intrigued by the idea of a Cherry Blossom tree coming through the roof of the set and after the presentation we were able to go upstairs to see the still-under-construction set with said tree in the early stages of assembly.
Because the play is brand new, spoilers were avoided throughout the discussions. It’s hard to preview a show like this without giving much away and still be able to talk about the various technical aspects. The charm of the presenters and the friendly audience made these potentially vague discussions fun and engaging despite the limited information they were able (and willing) to share. I’d love to see this type of preview done with well-known works in other theaters in town.
All in all, this event accomplished its goal – to energize the loyal KNOW donors and audience – and to get more buzz going about this intriguing new play. I can’t wait to see it on Opening Night.
Tickets for “Pluto” are available here. The show runs from January 24th – February 22nd and is $15 in advance or $20 the week of the show.