I’m here in Upper Jay amidst the hubbub of rehearsal for an original play by Upper Jay Art Center (UJAC) artistic director, Scott Renderer.
Scott, who is a former NYC Wooster Group actor, is also featured in the play which is titled: “Nick (A Christmas Pageant)” and will premiere at UJAC on Dec. 19, 20 and 21.
It’s an unusual mix of real-life and fiction as well as an homage to most of the plays that Scott has produced in this modest but innovative venue in Upper Jay.
The cast is large—20 something community members, including myself in a bit part as the diner waitress.
Here’s the low-down on the plot: in 1997, Adirondack author Russell Banks’s novel, “Affliction” was adapted and released as a film with the same title. The all-star cast included Nick Nolte, Willem Dafoe, Sissy Spacek and James Coburn, who won an Academy Award for his performance. To prepare for his role in the film as Wade Whitehouse, a small-town sheriff, Nick Nolte made a trek to the Adirondacks to meet with Russell Banks. Banks took him to some local establishments including the M&M Diner and a bar called 20 Main in AuSable Forks, or so the story goes. But there’s a bit more to it than that and certainly much more that this playwright has contributed to add to the humor.
Fact and fiction become a bit blurred as Scott Renderer takes on the persona of Nick Nolte and talks about the reality of the film “Affliction” and Nolte’s trip to the North Country to do research.
Some of the sets from previous shows produced by UJAC have been preserved and will make an integral appearance in this performance, as well as some characters, costumes, and key props.
The camaraderie at this rehearsal adds to the fun and mayhem of the production which seems zany at times.
Things move along rather quickly as the play opens in the Adirondack hamlet of AuSable Forks and switches to Hollywood with a simple zebra sofa scene change. As Scott pulls out the sofa he jokingly says, “Next scene Hollywood, can’t you tell?”
“Nick” is sure to be a hit with anyone who has seen a production at The Recovery Lounge but folks not “in the know” will enjoy it too.
The language is a bit rough in spots, so parental discretion is advised.
There’s more on tap at the Upper Jay Arts Center before “Nick” takes center stage. Click through to find out what else may be on the schedule.
For more information about cultural events in the Whiteface region, click here.
Kathleen Recchia has been enjoying the arts in the Adirondacks for about 20 years—both as observer and participant (acting, directing, and producing). She also enjoys cross-country skiing, swimming, juggling, and hosting visitors to the area at her bed & breakfast in Jay.