In the spirit of sharing the humanity that comes from theater, a new group has sprouted on Cape Ann.
In its first welcome to the community, the newly created theater group Lanes Coven is offering a free radio play, "Savannah," as it plans a late summer show — a nautical-themed "Taming of the Shrew."
The one-hour radio play will be available until July 11.
Lily Narbonne, co-artistic director of Lanes Coven along with Justin Genna, described the play as an existential, fast-paced dark comedy, created to provide an experience to theater lovers during a pandemic.
“We want to engage people with this socially distant radio play, and garner faith for the performing arts to come back soon,” she said.
This virtual production is presented as Lanes Coven’s inaugural production because the group wanted to offer the public an alternative for entertainment at a time when theaters remain shuttered.
"This came to be because one of our New York actor buddies and playwright, Dylan Waite, who will be involved in 'Taming of the Shrew,' wrote this during the pandemic, the day after his 29th birthday," Narbonne said. " 'Savannah' is about two women who in their voyeurism are looking at a much younger girl of 16 and thinking how can they help her."
Belle Aykroyd and Beatriz Miranda play the two lead women. Rounding out the cast, directed by Justin Edward Keim, is Rivka Borek and Vincent Randazzo.
"We are all friends from school at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco where we did our master's degree," said Narbonne of the four actors.
“'Savannah' is truly about people’s dissatisfaction with their situation in society. It’s about despair and having no material recourse. It’s about how you deal with it when you have no immediate options to alleviate it. But it’s a comedy," said Waite, the playwright.
The group produced this radio play while the members were distanced from each other — Aykroyd in Los Angeles and the others on the East Coast.
"None of the creators were ever in the same space, and the actors communicated with each other via Zoom, and used the podcasting app 'Cast' in order to get their audio captured. Our audio engineer was able to download all this content from the internet, and master it in his studio," explained Narbonne. "Then he would send his work via a dropbox back to Justin and I in Gloucester. In a radio play, the life of the work is all about the sound."
Narbonne noted that DogTown Books in Gloucester connected Lanes Coven to this audio engineer, Sean Dorian, a Berklee College of Music graduate.
The founders and actors of Lanes Coven are eager to share a variety of creative endeavors with the community. The artistic directors bring an array of experience. Genna was a professional ballet dancer, and Narbonne worked in both classical and experimental acting.
Just prior to the pandemic, they were part of the Fishtown Players production "Mauritius," which delighted local audiences. Included in that cast were Michael McNamara and his son, Max McNamara, both who will be involved in Lanes Coven.
"We may be the newest local community theater group but we are a professional company," said Narbonne.
And for those wondering about the name, Narbonne and Genna live in Lanes Cove, so with the addition of an 'n,' the name "Lanes Coven" evolved because its connotation refers to a gathering of like-minded individuals — in this case, those who love transformational theater.
Looking ahead, Lanes Coven received awards from the Awesome Gloucester Foundation as well as the Rockport Cultural Council to support its "Taming of the Shrew" production. In its hands, the play will be set in 1910s Gloucester with the backdrop of the decade's thriving seafaring industry. Genna and Narbonne will star as Petruchio and Kate, respectively, and Max McNamara will play the lover, Lucentio.
The radio play "Savannah" is available at Apple Podcasts and Spotify by typing in "Lanes Coven Presents." The work comes up as the first "episode."
More details and updates may be found at www.lanescoven.com.
Gail McCarthy can be reached at 978-675-2706, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.