Remembering Ike Through Drama And Comedy

Fernando Dovalina, who along with Island ETC artistic director Kim Mytelka organized this Saturday's Eyes on the Tempest - The Ike Plays, has often hosted readings of new plays in his home. Most of those readings were themed, with all the participating playwrights agreeing to write on one topic. The aftermath of Hurricane Ike seemed an natural topic for Dovalina and his friends to tackle. Given the topic, Dovalina wanted to hold this reading in Galveston which mean that not only did he have to find playwrights and actors willing to work for free, but they had to be willing to go to Galveston to work for free.

It turned out finding participants was easy.

Once the participants were lined up, Dovalina worried about the tone of the work. "I thought, 'Are we going to have just a bunch of downer plays here?' But the human spirit is so resplendent, it just bounces back. Even in the worst of times we make jokes," he says.

The range of the work surprised even Dovalina.

"There are some serious plays, some are serious and funny both, and some that are just out-and-out comedies, including a couple of farces. Some of them are very short, there's one that's probably just a minute long. There are a couple that are five minutes long, but most of them are in the ten to twelve minute range," he says.

Dovalina's own work, a drama called Water Line, is based on his experience during a recent visit to Galveston. "I noticed lines everywhere marking how high the water came up. Some of them are just slashes of paint or chalk, but one of them, I think it was the Saltwater Grill, had it in metal. It occurred to me that for [Galveston residents] those lines could mean a lot of things. They could mean fear, they could mean outrage, or survivability. So I added that to some conversations that I had with a guy in a bar and got Water Line.

"I created a scene in a bar on the seawall. There's a bartender who has a very tragic secret, a bickering couple from Houston and a Houston Chronicle reporter -- all fictional." (Hair Balls will resist the urge to point out that it could just as easily have been a Houston Press reporter as they've been known to sit around in bars, too. Then again, Dovalina used to work for the Chron.) "One of the characters says, 'Everybody has a story,' and the reporters says, 'Yeah, but most of them are boring.'"

Besides Water Line, the plays include Jim Bain's farce Mayday in September and Lauren Tunnell's comedy, Anderson Cooper and Other Things that Blew in from the East. Playwrights J.R. Marshall,Aaron Alon, Eric James, Peter Wittenberg Jr. and Kay McStay also contributed works.

Eyes on the Tempest -- The Ike Plays benefits Island ETC, a theater troupe on the island. The readings is at 2 p.m. Saturday The Strand Theatre, 2317 Mechanic Street, Galveston. For information, call 409-762-3556 or visit www.islandetc.org. $10.

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