Mt. Airy theater live-streaming political powerhouse

by Rita Charleston
Posted 10/22/20

It's the eve of a major election. The country is on the verge of upheaval over a battle between progress and tradition. The press will stop at nothing to influence the result. Challenged by a friend …

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Mt. Airy theater live-streaming political powerhouse

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It's the eve of a major election. The country is on the verge of upheaval over a battle between progress and tradition. The press will stop at nothing to influence the result. Challenged by a friend and activist Rebecca West, John Rosmer is the last descendent of the Rosmer dynasty, and his family estate and private life become the epicenter of the national debate.

Such is the tale of Henrik Ibsen's “Rosmersholm,” penned in 1886, and presented as the second of four politically-themed offerings from Quintessence Theatre Group. Mt. Airy's classic repertory theatre is live-streaming “Shout Into the World,” a virtual reading festival of four plays that continues through Nov. 9.  Scheduled for presentation during the upcoming presidential election, “Rosmersholm” started streaming Monday, Oct. 19, and continues through Friday, Oct. 23, at 7 p.m.

Actor, writer and activist Paul  Stovall, a Chicago native, will be heard in the reading. But Stovall said he was not into acting growing up but rather originally contemplated a career in sports. “I was groomed by my father to be an athlete, and I thoroughly enjoyed the process. I enjoyed the teamwork and all the camaraderie that accompanies playing a team sport.”

And although Stovall said he isn't quite sure how and why he made the transition to the arts, he believes the two are not too dissimilar. “You know, it takes a village to put a show on. And with each endeavor you do, whether sports or acting, for instance, you have to trust in your body to do what you want it to do, have the nerve to do what you know how to do and do it well once an audience shows up.”

Stovall's entrance into the arts actually began when he started writing poetry while in high school and actually had a book of his poetry published when he was just 16. “That kind of writing stayed with me throughout my college years at DePaul University, and then I started writing plays, mainly because I was told I couldn't. That's just the way I've always been,” he laughs. “Tell me I can't do something, and off I'll go to try my hardest to do it.”

And he's been doing a lot of things over the years. As an actor, he's appeared on Broadway and several years ago appeared in Philadelphia starring as George Washington in the national touring company of “Hamilton.” His production company has completed three projects.

Today, writer, actor, producer, director and so much more, the multi-talented Stovall has just added songwriter to his resume. “I've also spent a lot of time in politics. For instance, I spent eight years with the Obamas and others. And I learned a lot about protocol and staying in your own lane and getting your stuff accomplished. I was able to travel all over the country and enjoyed it very much.”

Now working with Quintessence for the first time, Stovall insists his current project is exciting. “But make no mistake about it. I can't wait to get back to doing theater in front of a live audience. Meanwhile, I play Kroll in this production. He is the activist, the one who wants to make change and rally the troops,” Stovall explained. “I myself am an activist, and it's interesting how often I find plays that are as resonant and relevant as they are. So I'm really relating to this man who's trying to persuade his friends to join him in the cause but winds up just hitting a brick wall.”

Single tickets and discounted full festival passes for the “Shout Into the World” reading festival are available. Call 215-987-4450 or visit QTGrep.org to purchase.

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