Five by Tenn at Theatre 68

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Shelly Hacco

In the introduction of his one-act play collection 27 Wagons Full of Cotton, Tennessee Williams comments on his former theater company, The Mummers, as a group driven “by some kind of beautiful witchcraft.”

Inspired by the idea of individual spirits collectively producing elusive yet memorable theatrical art, the members of Theatre 68 proudly acknowledge their 10 years of existence as a feat that could only have been accomplished through their “witchy” energy.

Bringing impassioned actors, writers and directors together in the creation of theatrical life, Theatre 68 cultivates its own beautiful witchcraft, one that is sure to continue enhancing the lives of company and audience members alike.

Ronnie Marmo, a founding member and the artistic director of the company, looks upon this milestone with anticipation for the future. From its meager beginnings to its current place in the LA scene, Theatre 68 has come far, and through it so has he.

Shannon McManus (top) and Virginia Novello (bottom)

Known for his role on ABC’s General Hospital, Marmo is busy living television stardom, but he is never too busy for the theater company that gave him his start and his passion. Many of 68’s members enjoy this same success yet still manage to keep the company alive through their commitment to the 68 Cent spirit.

In celebration of the work and dedication that saw Theatre 68 to its 10th year and the joy and prosperity it has brought to its members, the company has chosen to grace its stage with the work of Tennessee Williams, a man whose words fully embody the spirit of 68.

On March 26, 2011, Williams’ 100th birthday, the 68 Cent Crew opened Five by Tenn, a collection of five one-act plays which explore some of Williams’ lesser-known yet equally powerful works, some of which include the early versions of tragic figures that haunt his later classics. Strung together as images of Williams’ imagination, the five individual pieces showcase the turbulence overtaking the writer’s mind and the art that materialized as a result.

Deborah Geffner and Joe Massingill

The show opens with a spotlight on the upper story that serves as Williams’ writing corner, a mess of crumpled papers and booze, while a voice-over of the writer explains himself as the “opposite of a stage magician,” a figure who gives “truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion” instead of the other way around. His ghost-like voice narrates the set-up of each imagined world, keeping the audience aware of his presence throughout the show. As he speaks, the cast of his invented characters physically adjusts the sets to match the descriptions in his head. Then, as if picked out of a magician’s hat, the players of each act emerge in turn and play out the scenes in Williams’ head.

Natasha Makin and Shawn Parsons

The featured one-acts are The Lady of Larkspur Lotion, directed by Jeremy Aluma; Hello from Bertha, directed by Jamison Jones; Portrait of a Madonna, directed by Deborah Geffner; Talk to Me Like the Rain…And Let Me Listen, directed by Lauren Patrice Nadler and Auto-Da-Fe, directed by Brionne Davis. Don’t miss the chance to see Theatre 68 shine as it examines Tennessee Williams’ themes of love, loss and regret.

Five by Tenn, produced by Ronnie Marmo, plays Fri.-Sat., 8 pm; Sun., 3 pm (excluding Sun., April 24); through May 1. Tickets: $20. Theatre 68, 5419 W. Sunset Blvd., Hollywood; 323.960.5068 or http://theatre68.com.

**All photography by Robert Fabiani

Shelly Hacco and Joe Dalo

SHELLY HACCO has been a member of Theatre 68 since 2008. She knows first-hand what the company is and what it reaches to become. She has been involved in multiple productions all over LA, from sketch comedy at ACME to musicals at the Warner Grand. Aside from her passion for the theater, Hacco works at USC’s American Language Institute and will be graduating with a USC Masters of Liberal Studies degree this May. Though unsure of her next immediate step, she plans to continue her goal of life-long education in one form or another.

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Shelly Hacco

Shelly Hacco