Milk’s popularity is soaring in Ridgefield. The play, that is.
The U.S. premiere of Milk by Ross Dunsmore, which was to run through July 30, will now have performances through Aug. 5.
With July 27-30 nearly sold out, the Thrown Stone Theatre Company has just added Thurs., Aug. 3, Fri., Aug. 4, and Sat., Aug. 5, as the final three performances, artistic directors Jason Peck and Jonathan Winn announced Friday afternoon, July 21.
After selling out the first weekend, two additional performance dates — Thurs., July 20 and 27 — were added.
The “theater” for this production is in the Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance, 440 Main Street, Ridgefield, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m. The new Ridgefield-based professional theater company Thrown Stone’s premiere of Milk is about three couples who “struggle to meet their basic needs for food, love and survival. As they try to make sense of a changing world, their inner desires and appetites become driving forces that could lead to either catastrophe or redemption.”
Tickets, $29 (29 and under) and $49, are available at thrownstone.org/events.
Upcoming special events include Meet with the Playwright Ross Dunsmore live from Scotland via Skype, Mon., July 24, 7 p.m. at the Ridgefield Library, 472 Main Street; and Cocktails with the Cast, Saturday, July 22, following the 8 p.m. performance.
Here is the Arts & Leisure cover story that ran on July 6:
At every stage of life — from birth until death — people form connections with one another. They may be good, bad or anything in between.
Human connection is the essence of the upcoming U.S. premiere of “Milk” by playwright Ross Dunsmore in Scotland.
Milk — the first full-scale production by the Thrown Stone Theatre Company — will be performed at the Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance at 444 Main Street, Ridgefield, starting next Friday, July 14. The production runs through July 30 on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.
Thrown Stone Theatre Company was founded by Ridgefielder Jason Peck and Jonathan Winn of Carmel, N.Y. All six members of the cast are from area communities — Westport and Ridgefield and Carmel and North Salem, N.Y.
Milk is about three couples of different ages — teens, late 30s and 90s. “The play addresses questions such as what are the things that nourish you, that feed you, when is the need for connection too much, when it isn’t too much and when is it not enough? It does this in a very artful, beautiful way with these three different stories — they are almost isolated in themselves,” said Peck, who is co-artistic director of Milk.
Peck said he has been deeply moved by Milk ever since he saw the premiere performance of the play last summer at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland. “I noticed there was something very primal and visceral with this idea of wanting to feel whole and complete and wanting to connect with people as a society,” Peck said.
Peck feels that regardless of all the different ways of communicating in today’s age, society is losing out on its ability to connect with one another. “Despite the Internet, Skype and Facetime — all of society’s abilities to connect us quicker, faster and better — this idea of actually being truly connected on a personal level has evaporated,” he said.
He also discussed the theme of the play, which is about how “the things we want are the very things that make us sick.”
Winn, co-artistic director of Milk, elaborated further: “Whether it’s nutritional, sustenance or sex, the six actors in the play crave them in different ways for different reasons.”
While viewers may differ greatly from one another in their reaction to Milk, Winn said that personally, he is “really drawn to the idea of connection intergenerationally. I think there is redemption found in this play.”
Peck said of all the relationships in Milk, he feels the couple in their 90s have one that is the most pure and beautiful. “They are struggling to support themselves financially and they are starving. Yet, one thing is for certain — they love each other so much. They are so self-sacrificial, they are living for each other.
“While they are sad that they are not having their needs met with food, they have a pure honest and open love,” Peck said.
True to the play’s name, the actual beverage of “milk” is also addressed in the play. “There is the literal issue of lactation with one of the characters. She is having difficulty with her baby latching on and struggling with this,” Peck said.
Dunsmore first thought of the idea for Milk while overhearing a conversation on a bus. “Some girls, about 13 or 14 years old, were talking about a party they’d been to. One girl said to her friend, ‘Did you hear that Scott ripped off Tracey’s top’ — and her friend replied, ‘Yeah, I think he really likes her.’
“This exchange got me thinking about how affection can be articulated in some very damaging ways and about how our cravings and desires can become confused and destructive. These initial thoughts opened up themes of nourishment and sustenance and that’s how the play began,” he said.
Dunsmore said he is very proud of Milk, especially considering it’s his first ever play. “I’ve been an actor for many years and only recently started to focus on writing. When I’d finished an early draft I sent it the Traverse Theatre through their open submissions programme. It was then picked up, developed and went on at the Edinburgh Festival,” he said.
He said he hopes an American audience will connect with the play in the same way that audiences in Scotland did. “The stories contained in the play — stories of motherhood, first love and loss are simply universal, played out time after time in every country in the world.
“I think there are certain fundamental aspects to the human condition that are unchanging wherever you go,” he said. “Hopefully in telling very specific stories, the play is tapping into these core aspects of who we are. Mothers are mothers, lovers are lovers, the whole world over.”
Thrown Stone will be at the Ridgefield Library at 472 Main Street for the Milk Discussion Series, which will highlight the themes of the premiere of Milk. Ridgefield’s First Selectman Rudy Marconi will interview the cast in a post-matinee panel on the theme of connection across generations, Sunday, July 16, at 4 p.m. Healthy Indulgences with Alissa Monteleone of Simply Good Thinking takes place on Tuesday, July 18, at 7 p.m. Meet with the Playwright: Ross Dunsmore live from Scotland via Skype, an event sponsored by the Ridgefield Arts Council, will be on Monday, July 24, 7 p.m. Cocktails with the Cast is a special event on Saturday, July 22, following the 8 p.m. performance. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 203-442-1714 or go to thrownstone.org/events