This year marks Road Less Traveled Productions Tenth Anniversary Season, and to celebrate they are presenting a special Curtain Up show, Buffalo Rises, featuring Western New York’s exceptional talent in playwriting, performance and fine art. RLTP asked eight WNY playwrights to tell Buffalo’s story through their eyes and imaginations. The result is Buffalo Rises—a collection of eight short plays, accompanied by original artwork by local artists, that recall our city’s history, humor and hope. In one night we are taken on Buffalo’s rollercoaster history as seen from the highs of the 1901 Pan American Exposition, the lows of post-industrial decay and all that’s in between. Over the next few weeks Road Less Traveled Productions, generously sponsored by Buffalo Rising, will present an eight part series taking a look into the plays and playwrights that make Buffalo Rises.
What makes Buffalo, Buffalo? To outsiders it’s the snow, or its football (defeats) or hockey (defeats) or perhaps our struggling economy or that city on the way to Toronto. To us it’s good food, family, museums, arts, sports, festivals, Canalside and the open swath of space that is the our waterfront—our untamed frontier. And maybe a little of the other stuff. But Buffalo is no stranger to innovation, invention and adventure. From electricity and grain mills to culinary creations and the World’s Largest Disco, Buffalo has a talented—and fun—past informs our present, as playwright Donna Hoke illustrates in her cheeky nod to the Queen City entitled “Spirit of Buffalo”, part of Road Less Traveled Productions Buffalo Rises premiere this fall.
Chicken wings, beef on weck, ice cream sundaes, loganberry, cocktails, ice cream sundaes, Mighty Taco, windshield wipers, the pacemaker, air conditioning, ball jar, sponge candy, non dairy whipped topping. The first day care, first railroad suspension bridge, the first laboratory dedicated to cancer research. Garden Walk, Taste of Buffalo, Italian Fest, Allentown Art Festival, Dingus Day. There are a lot of things to love about Buffalo. There are a lot of points of civic pride. And there are a lot of things to do. It’s easy to get lost in the bad reputation, to find yourself defending her, bemoaning her fate or criticizing her in that way you can only do with family. But in actuality, there are a lot of things to celebrate and enjoy.
And our greatest days aren’t all past, we haven’t exhausted our potential. Recently we’ve drawn attention for our architectural gems, our preservation work, and developing waterfront. Movies have flocked—okay maybe not flocked—but buzzed a bit around our Rust Belt City. Sports events like the Junior World Hockey Championships, which brought international attendees, could increase with the building of facilities downtown. Medical campuses are sprouting up, and higher education campuses are expanding. All are unknown variables, exciting and potentially lucrative, and all with the ability to disappoint with unrealized dreams. Yeah, it could happen. Anyone of these could follow the fate of Bass Pro, or a Downtown Stadium or a Veterinary Hospital. And we’ll be disappointed, and we’ll winge and moan. But we’ve been there before. We’re a city that has shouldered its fair share of letdowns, false starts and missed marks—but we haven’t given up, succumbing to the leers of outsiders. We might laugh at ourselves, but that’s because we can. It’s this spirit—an ability to poke fun, to celebrate accomplishments and acknowledge defeats—that Hoke calls up in “Spirit of Buffalo”, a playful look at all things Buffalo.
Donna Hoke is a vital player in the rise of the Buffalo theater scene. She is a writer and editor, New York Times-published crossword constructor, children’s book author, editor of Buffalo Spree Home and a member playwright of the RLTP ensemble. As a journalist for over 25 years, Hoke has written hundreds of feature articles for national media outlets. Her creativity and energy expand beyond Buffalo, as she serves as the WNY representative for the Dramatists Guild and is a member of the International Centre for Women Playwrights. Hoke’s work has been seen nationwide as well as in England, Korea and Australia. Her credits include Seeds, which recently premiered at RLTP; The Couple Next Door; Cockeyed Today; Lost at Sea; and Flowers in the Desert.
Buffalo Rises, directed by Scott Behrend, premieres September 13, 2013 at Road Less Traveled Productions theater inside Market Arcade Film & Arts Center on Main Street in Buffalo. Shows are Thursday through Saturday at 7:30pm and Sunday at 2pm (with the exception of Friday, September 20th at 8pm for Curtain Up!). Tickets are $33 for Adults, $15 for students. For more information and to purchase tickets visit www.roadlesstraveledproductions.org.
See Buffalo Rises #7 – Steps by Darryl Schneider
see buffalo rises #6 – The Fountain at Gates Circle by Matthew Crehan Higgins
see buffalo rises #5 – Bride of Buffalo Movie by Jon Elston
see buffalo rises #4 – Mad Dogs by Ibn Shabazz
see buffalo rises #3 – On the Eastern Shores of Lake Erie by Justin Karcher
see buffalo rises #2 – Good Neighbors: Caitlin McAneny
see buffalo rises #1 – The Man Who Saved the President, Almost by Gary Earl Ross