What Happened in Minsk? New Theater Company Delves into Psychological Drama
As the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination nears, multiple biopics and news programs are looking at JFK and the fateful events in Dallas. A new theater company, TE San Pedro Rep, is taking a less traveled route, with its readings of a new play by Julio Vera that looks at the two years Lee Harvey Oswald spent in Minsk, Belarus, after defecting from the United States. The play, Alik, had its first reading Oct. 25 as the theater company inaugurated its new space at 311 W. 7th St. downtown San Pedro.
A second reading will be at 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 17, at The Wende Museum, 5741 Buckingham Pkwy., Suite E, Culver City. (There is no admission fee, but reservations are required and need to be made at [email protected] or by calling 310/216-1600, extension 304.)
The two-act psychological drama is both a memory play and exploration of Oswald/Alik’s relationship with Marina, the Russian woman he impulsively marries, and one of his co-workers at the television manufacturing plant where Oswald finds work. It is directed by Aaron Ganz, the artistic director of San Pedro Rep with a cast of eight, led by a convincing Mark Kopitzke playing Oswald/Alik. (Alik is the name Oswald used in Russia.)
Ganz said he was drawn to the play for “its depth of storytelling. Alik is a character who would be very easy to portray as a cliché,” he said, “but there is great texture in all the humans in this work.”
Vera, a screenwriter who also is the collections manager of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, said the readings are a useful step toward a full production. The reading in San Pedro was the first time he had seen the play read all the way through. “Prior to that, it was only something I’ve imagined in my head,” he said.
For information on TE San Pedro Rep, which plans to regularly present new works, click here. The theater’s current production is Hamlet, which runs through Dec. 21.