Special events at Thingamajig: Readings of third play in Elkins’ personal trilogy

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    Photo courtesy Carol Siwek Friends of Thingamajig Theatre and 2021 summer season ticket holders are invited to two free readings with Dennis Elkins on Tuesday, Nov. 23, at 3 p.m. and Thursday, Dec. 2, at 7 p.m. at the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts to give input to “blood” (pronounced bloodline), the final play in his autobiographical trilogy.
    Photo courtesy Carol Siwek
    Friends of Thingamajig Theatre and 2021 summer season ticket holders are invited to two free readings with Dennis Elkins on Tuesday, Nov. 23, at 3 p.m. and Thursday, Dec. 2, at 7 p.m. at the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts to give input to “blood” (pronounced bloodline), the final play in his autobiographical trilogy.

    By Carole Howard 
    Thingamajig Theater Company

    Friends of Thingamajig Theatre Company and 2021 summer season ticket holders have a theatrical treat in store — two special events with Dennis Elkins next Tuesday, Nov. 23, at 3 p.m. and Thursday, Dec. 2, at 7 p.m. They are invited to attend free readings and give input to “blood” (pronounced bloodline), the final play of the actor/director/playwright’s autobiographical trilogy, at the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts. 

    This play expands our knowledge of the Elkins family on his mother’s side that we first met in the trilogy’s first show “box.” and explores their influence — good and bad — on his life. We also meet others who have impacted his experiences over the years, including friends, academics, mentors and lovers.

    Elkins began writing about these personal connections on a trip to Northern Ireland in the winter of 2020. Now, after several drafts, he’s looking for input to his script from theater lovers in Pagosa whom he has come to admire from directing and performing in so many Thingamajig Theatre productions.

    Input from the audience

    Those who have attended previous Thingamajig Playwrights Festivals are familiar with the collaborative process involved. The writer reads his play from the stage and solicits feedback from the audience on where the show needs rewriting to improve the flow of the story or clarify the purpose of a scene or character. The break between events allows Elkins to begin the rewriting process before he and the audience reconvene to evaluate the updates and discuss what more needs to be done.

    “Thingamajig audiences are some of the most intelligent and discerning in the theater world,” Elkins said. “They’re also not afraid to express their opinions and ask good questions. I am looking forward to their input, which I know will be invaluable to making ‘blood’ a better play.”

    Vaccinations required

    There is no charge for these “blood” readings and no reservations are needed. But, vaccinations are required, following Actors’ Equity protocols. The Elkin events are an added benefit for members of the Friends of Thingamajig Theatre and 2021 summer season ticket holders. To enjoy the full experience, it’s best to attend both sessions.

    Over the past 10 years that Thingamajig has brought professional theater to Pagosa Springs, Elkins has impressed both locals and out-of-town visitors with his brilliant acting, keen directing and remarkable versatility. He starred in significant dramas including “Red,” “A Picasso,” “A Few Good Men” and “Proof”; played major roles in musicals like “Cabaret,” “Hairspray” and “Sister Act”; earned laughs in comedies like “Lend Me a Tenor” and “Tuna Christmas”; and directed hits like “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” “A Christmas Carol” and “Little Women, the Musical.”

    Three one-man plays

    The three plays in this autobiographical series are written, produced and performed as one-man shows by Elkins. 

    The first, “box.,” originally was performed in Pagosa to standing ovations and rave reviews at Thingamajig’s Playwrights Festival in 2018. It focuses on the psychological trials in our lives associated with packing and unpacking boxes — literally and figuratively. We follow Elkins through major events in his adult life including his mother’s death, his son’s overdose, coming out of the closet and leaving academia at Fort Lewis College. 

    The second installment is “bag—” (pronounced “bag dash”), which debuted at Thingamajig in July. It is based on Elkins’ trip to India in the winter of 2017 as he approached his 60th birthday. In this poignant comedy of travel and identity, Elkins crisscrosses India via buses, tuk-tuks and taxis in hopes of uncovering the mysteries of life and middle age.