‘MEADOWLAND’ at Phoenix Theatre

Saturday night I went to see my friend Ian Walker’s play Meadowland, about “a small town sheriff, the ghost of a brother who died under shadowed circumstances, forbidden love, and a missing woman.” I got to see this play in various drafts as it was being created, and in fact even read some of the parts around the table as Ian was creating the script, so it was extremely cool to see it come to life.

If you’ve ever been to a show at the Phoenix, the production values that Ian has put into this piece will blow your mind. The space is tiny, so the typical Phoenix set is usually a chair, perhaps two, and a table. This show has a fully-built set with three separate playing areas, plus live and prerecorded film, plus gorgeous costumes including masks, plus beautiful sound design. At the Phoenix!

For the theater practitioners reading this, let me point you to something even more fantastic. Ian has documented the entire process of creating this production through a video diary. Everything from the costume design to the challenges of a playwright directing his own work is discussed. I remember a while back the theatrosphere was wondering how to use backstage video and production blogs to promote a play and build an audience. This is how.

And I do believe it’s building an audience. The Saturday show I attended was sold out, as was the show the night before. Here’s hoping that trend continues.

Meadowland by Ian Walker at Phoenix Theatre, 414 Mason St., San Franicsco, Jan 9 – Jan 31. Tickets at www.secondwindtheatre.com