Author Kathleen Keena was a part-time college English teacher, Method-trained actor, and community director when she met Clark Bowlen, theater chair at Manchester Community College in Connecticut in 1988. They formed an artistic partnership that combined their diverse strengths to produce classic and contemporary shows.
Actors joined them as fellow artists on a journey that spanned the academic, community, and theatrical world. Their work included a hip-hop "Midsummer Night's Dream," a rock-and-roll "Taming of the Shrew," a postwar-themed show performed by Vietnam veterans, and several original musicals. Nontraditional theater productions that addressed contemporary social issues became their signature work.
In The Play's the Thing, Keena documents the nature and process of that work to show how they developed a theater department at a local community college and took it beyond the campus walls. She also offers additional information about theater including: what makes a good script; the interpretive analysis of a script; challenges common to specific script categories and the continuity of lighting, sound and costuming to create a sustained suspension of reality.
Documenting an artistic journey, The Play's the Thing shares one couples' contributions to theater and shows how they facilitated innovative approaches to conventional theater.