• May 26, 2013 · 3:00 PM
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From the man who brought you (wrote) AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY, another play with a very different theme and mood. The Man From Nebraska is about a man's loss of faith and his journey to regain it.

On the surface, the life of Ken Carpenter, a solidly married fifty-seven-year-old insurance salesman, is uneventful: silent rides in his luxury sedan, cafeteria encounters with Salisbury steak and lime Jell-O, visits to his mother in the nursing home, and the minister's sermons at the Baptist church. Then one night he is jolted awake, tortured by the discovery that he no longer believes in God. Encouraged by his minister, Ken decides to find himself and his faith by impulsively flying to London, where he navigates the new and somewhat dangerous realm of British counterculture. Tracy Letts's play dares to ask the big questions, revealing the hidden yearning and emotion that can spur eccentric behavior in outwardly conventional people.

PRELIMINARY CASTING (Subject to change)











Ken Carpenter, previously a devoted Baptist, suddenly finds that he no longer believes in God. Ken’s wife, Nancy, is shocked and uncomfortable with Ken’s sudden loss of faith and initiates a meeting between Ken and their pastor. During his discussion with Ken, the Reverend learns that Ken’s life is going fairly well, with the sole exception being his mother's declining mental and physical health. The Reverend suggests that Ken should get away from his daily routine and after some coaxing, Ken accepts the idea of going on a vacation by himself.   And the play action goes on from there with Ken's physical and spiritual odyssey.

It's a quiet piece for author Letts, shot through with silences and nuances — of dread, loss, confusion, and hope.

The playwright limns the pattern of the couples lives in Lincoln, Neb., with a series of near-silent scenes at the top of the show, as the husband Ken and his wife move from car to church to diner to nursing home. Nancy's first line of dialogue — "They're finally going to tear down that ugly house" — serves as foreshadowing of Ken's own actions. But what do you do once you've broken up the foundations? Do you rebuild on the spot or dig elsewhere?

It's like having a mirror held up to one's own nagging questions about roads not taken. When Ken clutches shakily at his bathroom sink and confesses his loss of faith to Nancy, you want to jump up and wrap a quilt around his heaving shoulders. When Nancy wordlessly nurtures Ken's mother, Cammie (Marssie Mencotti), in his absence, you want to slap him. Why should Ken get to enjoy sex, drugs and art in London while Nancy tends to the messy business of death?

But both the script and the production don't allow easy character judgments to stand.  Its a complex play about very fundamental issues that we all face.   And "Man From Nebraska" suggests that being lost and uncertain is our destiny. The best you can hope for is another person groping their way in the dark beside you.




CAMMIE CARPENTER, their daughter








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  • A former member
    A former member

    I have a kanikapila. maybe next time

    May 16, 2013

    • Susan D.

      I'm so glad it wasn

      May 27, 2013

    • Susan D.

      I'm so glad it wasn't serious Jay!! I thought it was an illness til I looked it up in Wikipedia. Hahaha

      May 27, 2013

  • Susan D.

    One of our best post-reading discussions. Its interesting how a seemingly slow, and almost "boring" play can strike so many chords in different members of our group. Its the genius of Tracy Letts, the playwright, that he can work so much with what seems very little in terms of dialogue and action. Bravo Letts!

    May 27, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Hi, I just joined the group and am excited to see that there may be some open parts for this reading. I'm brand new to this, but I'd love to give it a try!

    May 11, 2013

  • Joan L.

    Susan and Jeff, I would like to attend the May 26 reading of
    The Man from Nebraska. The play readings are always such fun.

    April 29, 2013

  • Bob B.

    Sorry to miss this, but something else just came up. Looks like a great play to read!

    April 11, 2013

  • Elizabeth M.

    Happy to participate or just be entertained.

    April 9, 2013

  • Janet K of Walnut C.

    I'd like to read the Nancy Carpenter part.

    April 7, 2013

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