Merely A New Space

10/22/2021

Mona Wood-Patterson and Charles Ford have found a new home for the Durango-based theater company Merely Players. Merely Underground, the new space opened their first production since 2020 October 1st and are looking forward to sharing community-based theater once again. Sponsored by San Juan Basin Public Health and Tafoya Barrett and Associates

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Lights camera action. It's been over a year since most live theater productions were shut down by the pandemic. Merely Players, Durango's community-based theater company were able to take advantage of the hiatus to transform a warehouse into a permanent home for the company. You're watching the Local News Network brought to you by San Juan Basin public health and Tafoya Barrett and Associates. I'm Wendy Graham Settle.

Merely Players is a local theater company that's been housed in Durango for 30 years. Merely Players before finding the space Merely Underground has been essentially a traveling company. We have found different spots all over the county to do shows, up at the fort, out at James Ranch, at the Old Fort Library. So, we've been a found space theater company for an extremely long time, which has a whole lot of merit, being able to do a play about, like a Shakespearian summer play out in nature has its value.

As a found space company, Merely Players directors, Mona Wood-Patterson and Charles Ford we're constantly on the lookout for places to perform, often asking places with, for sale or for rent signs, if they could use the space for a few months to put on a production. Ford was on one such expedition in the tech center when he saw a for rent sign on an old warehouse across from the recycling center.

And the people who own the space happen to be former students who went through the theater program, Mona and Charles were their theater directors at Durango High School for a long time and have been solid standing in the community because of that for so long. A lot of people here have taken classes with Mona and Charles when they were younger and it happened to be that this person was a former theater student of theirs, and they were so excited with the notion of bringing a new theater space, a new performing venue to Durango. And when they first walked in here, there was this sort of sense of, oh wow, I think we might have something. I think we may have found home.

[Wendy Graham Settle] Over the last year Ford and Wood-Patterson have worked to transform the space into a functional theater space with a main performance area, as well as rooms to store extra props, costumes, and equipment for the company. On October 1st, Merely Underground opened its inaugural play with a full cast and company to a sold out theater.

So currently as the inaugural show in Merely Underground, we are doing the show called 'Men On Boats' by Jacqueline Backhaus. It's about the 1869 Powell expedition from Wyoming through the Grand Canyon and into Lake Mead. It follows the 10 men who were the historical figures of this what seems like larger than life expedition. That was a real thing that happened. But the twist of the play, written into the play is that it's female or femme identifying people, playing these male historical figures who actually did this huge adventure. We wanted the notion that opening a theater and a huge unknown expedition felt very parallel in our artistic choice making. The fact that they wanted to pair such a deeply ensemble and community-based show with the notion of bringing in all of our extended community for a new adventure of our own just felt sort of right.

[Wendy Graham Settle] After 'Men On Boats', the company will perform 'All Together Now', a musical celebrating being back together into All Things Musical. 'The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940', a musical murder mystery, 'The children', a dramatic play and "Matilda', the musical. Merely Players is excited to be back performing live and are looking forward to how their new space will provide many opportunities for community involvement.

We as a company, want people to feel welcome, included, inclusive. I would say that the thing that we would want anybody coming into this space to feel is at home, as at home as we finally do.

To buy tickets, check dates for upcoming shows, or to learn more about Merely Players, visit their website at merelyplayers.org or follow them on Instagram at merely_players_durango. Thank you for watching this edition of the Local News Network. I'm Wendy Graham Settle.

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