Sandra, a middle-aged woman who is a professor of theater at a small college, attempts to safeguard her irascible mother, who is a desperate hoarder. While Sandra begins preparations to direct a production of The Glass Menagerie, a clever, non-traditional student who is a veteran of Iraq enters her life. Abby, Sandra’s mother, jealous and lonely, discovers surreptitious ways to obstruct her daughter’s opportunity for meaningful connection.
This play began some years ago. I was inspired by a friend who became increasingly responsible for an aging mother who was unpredictable and not mentally well.
My work on Front Room intensified when I discovered the relevance of the archetypal novel Jane Eyre to the circumstances of my main character Sandra. The tone of Charlotte Brontë’s novel—an atmosphere of quiet desperation—struck me as fundamental to Sandra’s life: her growing isolation as she fights to somehow gather patience and kindness in the face of her mother’s overwhelming hoarding…the symbol of which is her exhausting, unsightly front room.
The play asks: what are the limitations of duty and fealty to a parent? What does the adult child owe her mother? And regarding the twisted notions of “happiness” that most of us cling to in our lives…do we have a right, or maybe an obligation, to pursue them? These are questions that vex me. For me, plays are an attempt to wrestle rigorously with difficult things: in this case, self-sacrifice side-by-side with loneliness. Front Room also makes space for the absurdly comic, where the odd trip over an unlikely object might bring forth sad laughter.
|Alicia, Waitress, Social Worker||Maddy Flemming|
|Stage directions||Grant Luecke|
The present, at a university city in the Midwest.
A Wisconsin native, Richard Kalinoski has distinguished himself as a playwright by writing plays with great international appeal. His full-length play, Beast on the Moon, won the 2001 Best Play from the Repertory prize at the Molière Awards in Paris.
Indeed, since emerging as a “triumph” (Ben Brantley, The New York Times) at the 1995 Humana Festival, Beast on the Moon has been translated into 20 languages and produced in venues all over the world, including Athens, Brussels, London, Moscow, New York (off-Broadway), Prague, Sao Paolo, and Toronto. It has garnered a host of awards including the Osborn – Best New Play in America by an Emerging Playwright, awarded by the American Theatre Critics Association in 1996, and in 2001, five Ace Awards, including Best Play, in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
In 2005, President of Armenia Robert Kachadarian awarded Kalinoski the Khorenatsi Medal for contribution to the Arts from the country of Armenia.
Mr. Kalinoski’s recent plays include Front Room (read at Next Act Theatre, Milwaukee); My Genius of Humanity (commissioned by the theatre program at California State University, Fresno); The Boy Inside (university production in 2015); and A Bear in Winter.
Kalinoski has a BA from the University of Wisconsin Whitewater and an MFA from Carnegie-Mellon University. He studied film at the American Film Institute.