FAIRFIELD — Solano College Theatre instructor/director Carla Spindt is known locally as “The Queen of Farce” for delivering rib-tickling theatrical fare with the college as well as Solano Repertory Theatre Company, where she is the artistic director.
Spindt hopes to carry on her tradition with “Moon over Buffalo,” Solano College Theatre’s latest production.
“ ‘Moon over Buffalo’ is a funny piece about the survival of the theater and the survival of actors in challenging situations and how they just keep on going,” Spindt said. “A lot of silly things happen to this group of actors and they trudge along.
“I was reading an essay that Frank Langella wrote in 1989 called ‘Theater: The Demon Seesaw Actors Ride’ about how actors are constantly refreshing and renewing ourselves and trying to find the next audition, the next review, the next closing and then the next audition again,” Spindt said. “It’s a cycle that goes on throughout our lives continually. The article is a very serious look at what the actor’s life is like and this play is a very not-so-serious look at what the actor’s life is like.”
In the theater’s past, professional actors were sometimes hired to play the lead roles and the students could learn by working with them, but this time around the cast is all students. Spindt also has an understudy cast to give more students an opportunity to learn, as well as provide insurance in case of emergencies.
Spindt said that some of the actors are brand new to theater and others were in the former Actor’s Training Program, so they have some skills.
“They are doing a fabulous job and it’s wonderful to see their growth from not being sure and not being loud enough and not being specific enough to really becoming very skilled,” she said. “I am very proud of them.”
The setting of the play provided an opportunity for Spindt to kill two birds with one stone. Since the play is set in the 1950s, it includes references to places and theatrical names from that era – such as Ron Colman and Greer Garson – that were completely unknown to Spindt’s students. Given that, Spindt said, the actors are learning about theater history as they are doing “this farcical door-slamming play.”
Budget cuts decimated the college’s theater department, but little by little they are trying to rebuild. Spindt said the community took a hit along with the department.
“There are a lot of places that have picked up the gauntlet and that is good and I am happy about that, but there is not as much opportunity as there was and all we can do is hope to build that up again,” she said.
In addition to onstage training, Solano College Theatre students are trained in the technical aspects of theater by instructor Darsen Long, who was with the Fairfield Center for Creative Arts for decades before moving across town.
“Darsen is amazing – very knowledgeable and I first worked with him in 1982 in Santa Rosa,” Spindt said. “There is never a guarantee that you will get that next job in acting, or any job, but there are more opportunities to gain employment in the technical side rather than the acting side.”
In addition to learning their parts, the students are building the sets, creating the costumes and doing the myriad tasks that make up a successful production. One thing Spindt said is missing during rehearsals is an audience to laugh at the funny parts to help her cast nail down their comic delivery.
“Farce requires timing and it is so satisfying to land a laugh,” Spindt said.
Reach Fairfield writer Tony Wade at [email protected]