Drama Weave a Tangled Yarn: Rusty Tennant Clark to Postmodern Theater

The Clark College drama department is performing the play “bobraushenbergamerica” in Decker Theater May 8-23.

This non-linear play tells various storylines that take place in America, and displays music, comedy and creativity.

Rusty Tennant directed the play that was originally written by Charles L. Mee. “Bobraushenbergamerica” is the second production Tennant has directed.

Tennant said he is most interested in how the audience will respond to  the play. It should make you feel, “educated, entertained and stimulated,” he said.

Auditions for the play started shortly after Clark’s previous play, “Rocky Horror”, ended._MG_7918

“It’s been a good year of just getting my mind wrapped around it,” Tennant said. “We tried to give it a feel of America.”

Clark theater has worked on the production for two months and Tennant said that they have been working day and night.

“They (the cast) just give up their time and lives for this stuff,” Tennant said.

The play focuses on different fictional instances in America through music, monologues and a sense of togetherness brought alive from the eyes of Charles L. Mee.

There are over 20 distinct sound cues in this play and a lot of music. The majority is country music. Some cast members performed live songs despite having no prior singing experience.

“I had never considered myself a singer,” said Philip Graves, who plays the role of Allen. Graves sings a solo piece in the play.

Since Tennant has only directed one play prior, he was new to the younger cast members.

Samuel Ruble, who plays the homeless character Becker, describes Tennant as a “taskmaster with a heart of gold.” Graves said he loved every second of having him as a director.

The two actors agreed that they have never been in a play like this one. “I don’t think anyone’s ever been in any sort of play like this before,” Graves said with a smile. “Ever!”

“Think if everyone in Portland got together and decided to write a play by throwing poetry magnets at a refrigerator,” Graves said. “That is bobrauschenbergamerica!”

Tennant said that he is proud of this production.

“As a person who loves the world of postmodern theater, I’m excited that I’m introducing another whole generation of people to theater that is not the norm. That makes me feel awesome.”

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