Morgan Lund on set at Helper's Rio Theatre.
Let's talk about feeling lonely in a crowd.
That's where Morgan Lund is going to be when the curtain goes up for "Wake Up and Smell the Coffee" at Helper's Rio Theatre Oct. 21. Lund, the artistic director of the OtherSide Players, has decided to stage a one-man show of Eric Bogosian's comedy.
That means he'll be doing all the characters, complete with voice inflections and accents, with a chain-link fence for a set and with about 200 sets of a eyes and ears in the audience following every word and move. Sounds scary.
But Lund has been on stage as a professional actor for 30 years now and besides, he really likes Bogosian's style of comedy. "He asks questions in a way that makes me smile," he said.
"It's a running rant of dark humor," he said of the play. "Bogosian uses humor to attack some scary issues. He's beyond being angry. He's infuriated."
"Wake Up" is what Lund calls a "New York comedy," in that it pokes fun at the fears that seem to plague our society these days, fears drummed up by both extremes of the right and left. In other words, it's not slapstick or a stream of jokes.
In fact, it's not even recommended for viewers under 15. "The actions and the story are clean, but there's some language that some people may find offensive," he advised.
Lund said the play should work for Carbon County audiences because there is an appreciation for diversity here, sort of a micro version of New York City. It also suits his idea of what theater - or art in general - is all about.
"Theater should create action in someone's mind. It should inspire change, or at least open you up to compromise. Compromise is another word for change," he declared.
Change is what the Helper City Council was looking for when it gave the contract for managing the Rio Theatre to the Helper Arts Council earlier this year. As reported in the Sun Advocate, the city wanted to make more use of the facility to boost the local economy through the performing arts. The Arts Council linked with the OtherSide Players to do that.
OtherSide means anything off the Wasatch Front, Lund explained. It's a way of letting people know that there is a Utah outside the metropolitan areas.
He's no stranger to big cities, though. After leaving Sandy in 1977, he earned a degree in theater and worked on stage in Cleveland and Detroit for years. Along the way he worked with actors such as Anthony Hopkins and Morgan Freeman and with playwright Arthur Miller.
What he has learned over the years is that audiences want something different each time they go to a show. Lund said that's why the OtherSide Players will be looking for works that offer a diversity of writing and styles.
He compared it to driving through Ninemile Canyon. "You never know what's around the next bend," he said.