Aug 08, 2020

“Speed-the-Plow� aims to please

Fresno State students Christine Andrews, Daniel Moore and Elliott Montgomery star in the Experimental Theatre Company’s performance of “Speed-the-Plow.� The ETC play is a student-run production, directed by theatre arts student Brandon Lindner. The play marks Lindner’s directorial debut.
Juan Villa / The Collegian

Love versus loyalty. Art versus business. The best friend versus the girl.

Those are just a few of the themes represented in “Speed-the-Plow,� a play written by David Mamet, which comes to life under the direction of 21-year-old senior theatre arts major, Brandon Lindner.

In his directorial debut, Lindner takes on a play that deals with Hollywood and the ruthless nature of the movie industry. He chose this play as his first because it combines elements of comedy, romance and action –— all essentials sure to be a crowd pleaser.

“The audience can expect to see jokes, romance, fights and a little bit of everything,� Lindner said. “There is a wide range.�

The play is relatively simple with only three characters. Bobby Gould is a film producer from Hollywood who moves up in the industry after he lands a job at the head of a film production company. His friend, Charlie Fox, is a sly movie producer looking for his big break.

Fox brings Gould a script for a possible movie and is sure his longtime friend will consider it. But in comes Karen, Gould’s temporary secretary. In true sly manner, Fox bets Gould $500 he cannot get Karen to sleep with him.

The result? Gould sleeps with Karen and ends up falling for her and ultimately chooses to produce a film she likes instead of the one his friend, Fox, brought to him.

That is where the different themes come in. Lindner said because of the complexity of the situation, the audience can expect to walk away feeling for each of the characters.

“You are unsure about who to root for,� Lindner said. “You don’t know who to sympathize for because you understand everyone’s situation. But no one is happy because somehow someone gets screwed.�

Lindner said this play is different than most plays because the dialogue is realistic and the action is fast paced. “The actors are always one step ahead so you’ll never guess what happens next.�

Helping Lindner bring “Speed-the-Plow� to life is Elliott Montgomery as Bobby Gould, Daniel Moore as Charlie Fox and Christine Andrews as Karen.

Montgomery, a fifth-year theatre arts major, said he hopes to bring a sense of fun to his conniving, corporate climber character.
“Bobby Gould has no interest in the art of filmmaking,� Montgomery said. “He is a businessman first. He’s not interested in making art. He just wants to make money for himself.�

Montgomery said in a way he can relate to the character of Gould because as a theatre major himself, he knows a lot about movies and the value of production.

“I can sympathize with the idea of art as a product, especially for the mainstream,� Montgomery said. “I can appreciate the way he deals with movies.�

That appreciation for art is one reason why Montgomery chose to be part of this play.

“The script is fantastic,� Montgomery said. “I’m a huge fan of the playwright. His hyperrealism and language is like poetry.�

The play is being put on by Fresno State’s Experimental Theatre Company, which is run entirely by students, with faculty advice. Each semester, they are given $900 budget to produce one play. Because they are only given a minimal amount of money, most plays rely on simplicity, with costumes and sets created by students.

“The set is simple,� Lindner said. “In the third act, there is only a desk. It was a very vague time period in the ’80s, but we modernized it.� It really is more about the story and bringing the script to life, rather than presentation, he said.

Montgomery said he shares a lot of the same artistic vision and desire to create theatre as Lindner, who happens to be a good friend of his.

“Because of our friendship, we managed to maintain a casual atmosphere on the set,� Montgomery said. “I can trust him and his artistic value and I can give him what he needs. As a director, he is very good and relaxed.�

Lindner said this experience has left him with a deeper desire to direct. “It’s been a really amazing process. I’ve acted before so it’s interesting learning what it’s like being on the other side and dealing with actors and getting stuff out of them. More and more, I want to be a director.�

With seven weeks of rehearsals under their belt, Lindner said his actors are “very, very prepared and doing great.�

There are five performances of the play, which will be held in Lab School 101 with a 100-seat capacity. Lindner expects a good audience turnout for each. “The ETC has a good record, so I believe we will sell out all 500 seats,� he said.

The Experimental Theatre Company’s production of “Speed-the-Plow� opens tonight with two shows at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. On April 21, there is a 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. show and on April 22 there is a 2 p.m. show. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased at the theatre department box office.

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