Scott Barry – playwright, screenwriter, actor, filmmaker, UC Davis engineering grad, and one-time San Francisco 49ers draft pick – was looking for just the right “costume” choice for the world premiere of his one-man comedy “Rise,” which continues its run through June 29 at Sacramento’s Ooley Theatre.
Though he was primarily seeking the advice of wife Mary Alice as he made several quick changes from an array of possibilities laid out on a trio of front-row seats at the downtown theater, he wasn’t above soliciting additional opinions from his tech crew, as well as this photojournalist, as he modeled the still-tagged clothing under the stage lights.
Should he pair a T-shirt (the gray one? the green one?) with his casual brown pants? The plaid, long-sleeve, button-down shirt with the khakis? Did the shirts look too tight? Were the hard-soled shoes too loud?
In the end, with the endorsement of all those present for the Friday afternoon tech rehearsal, Barry decided to wear his original picks: a blue button-down shirt, distressed Levis and a pair of casual brown boots.
Barry’s concern wasn’t about vanity, but based on his experience in the spotlight. Even minute costume details – like the color of shoelaces, or the presence/absence of a wedding ring, can derail an audience’s suspension of disbelief, or distract them from the storytelling at hand.
It’s the Los Angeles-based Barry’s attention to detail, and his self-stated desire to please, that prompted him to gather second (and third) opinions – just as he did when he began suffering from “male health issues,” the focus of the appropriately titled “Rise.”
“‘Rise’ is primarily autobiographical, but I have taken some creative license to condense the story into a one-act play with the aim that it be compelling and funny rather than entirely historical,” said Barry. “I don’t consider myself a historian or journalist. If anything, I’m a dramatist and storyteller. Entertaining show; subtle message that’s a contribution; emotionally true to my experience. Those are my three mantras.”
“Rise,” which was developed under the direction of Joshua Townshend-Zellner, is Barry’s third one-man show. His first, “Solo Gig Squared” (aka “The Greener the Grass”), was nominated for solo performance of the year by the Bay Area Theater Critics Circle. His second, “Who’s Frank?” – co-authored by friend Jeff Cahill – enjoyed a memorable, if short, L.A. run.
He has also written more than a half-dozen ensemble plays, including: “Answer Man”; “May Guy”; “Fifty Cars”; “Anonymous M.”; “Curious Yellow”; and “Sermon in the Suicide.”
Given that Barry spent the majority of his time as an Aggie in a locker room rather than a green room, one would have to say any staged production that emerges from his play book is a miracle play.
“I started doing community theater in the Bay Area more just looking for something to do that involved performing,” said Barry, whose theatrical training includes classes at San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theater. “I’ve always enjoyed being on stage. But what hooked me was my acting role in Tennessee Williams’ ‘Camino Real’ – I played Kilroy – and I just fell in the love with the language. It was all new to me. That was the beginning for me. I started talking acting classes in San Francisco and ended up getting my SAG card by booking a couple of commercials and then moving to L.A.”
Though he had trained since childhood for a career in football, he found his body wasn’t up to competing against the best of the best.
Recalling his days at the 49ers’ training camp, he still speaks in awe of quarterback Joe Montana’s unholy accuracy with a football, but bears no bitterness as that closed door led to an even greater passion.
“I think I’m like most people: I just find something magical about the theater,” he said. “It’s live – in the moment. It’s never the same night to night. It’s human, and not sanitized by a computer. Nothing like it. I also have creative control over my work. When writing screenplays there are so many other people with their hands in the soup that you just never know how it’s going to turn out.”
As “Rise” is a world premiere, Barry is still unsure what kind of reaction the full-blown production is going to receive from general audiences. But as he shares during the course of the show, he is nothing if not a hopeful, positive-thinking kind of guy.
“Anyone who has ever loved, been in love, longed for love, will see themselves in ‘Rise,'” he said. “I think that covers just about everybody.”
To view additional photographs, click here.
JUST THE FACTS
WHAT: “Rise,” a “provocatively funny and fast-paced” one-man show by actor-playwright Scott Barry about “finding love the hard way”
WHEN: Plays at 8 p.m. June 15, 22 and 29
WHERE: The Ooley Theatre, 2007 28th St. (at T Street), Sacramento, Calif.
WHO: Written and performed by Scott Barry (developed under the direction of Joshua G. Townshend)
HOW LONG: approximately 90 minutes
HOW MUCH: $15 (student/senior discount available with I.D.)
FOR TICKETS: Click here.