The Grandview Carriage Place Players, the Grandview Parks and Recreation Department and the Carriage Place Recreation Center are presenting “Man of La Mancha,” June 7 through June 9 at 7:30 p.m. at the Van Fleet Theatre in the Columbus Performing Arts Center.
“Man of La Mancha” is a musical based on the poet, Cervantes, and his prisoners who perform “Don Quixote,” as they await trial during the Spanish Inquisition.
The GCP players are a troupe, formed in 2011, aimed to strengthen the theater and arts community, which encourages anyone who is interested in theater to get involved.
The formation was inspired by the thought of bringing back theater programming, said John Heisel, director.
“Arts is always the thing that gets cut first, in any kind of a program,” says Heisel. “So we said why don’t we join forces and try to bring back some of the theater programming that has been lost due to budget cuts.”
To Heisel, the arts are an important part of life, especially in a community.
“We always talk about how important it is to be physically fit,” Heisel said. “But I think we also have to consider the creative soul and spirit inside of us all, not only individually, but collectively.”
According to Heisel, the story of “Man of La Mancha” represents this concept extremely well.
“The idea is that a community of people get together and put on a play in a prison,” he said. “It bonds them, it makes them understand that they’re more than what the establish has told them what they are. It brings glory to the soul of not only the individual but to the community, to a group, socially as well.”
Aside from emphasizing the importance of arts in a community, “Man of La Mancha” is a production that Heisel can very much relate to, and said that, in some ways it’s basically his “life story.”
“Cervantes was in his late forties and he said, ‘I have seen life as it is,’ and the thing is we’re always asking the question ‘why?’ life’s not as it is but as it should be, the madness of it all, not dreaming, not hoping,” Heisel said.
Heisel also said that the loss of his father, about a year ago, makes this production one that he connects to.
“He was sort of my Don Quixote in my life,” he said. “He was always striving for things, for impossible dreams and its not whether you win or lose its that you try.”
“So this is kind of a tribute to my fathers memory,” said Heisel.
The GCP players will be performing “Man of La Mancha” in its own studio, to give it a more “stripped down, bare bones” feel.
The dark and black box look of the studio can give the audience the feel of a prison setting, such as the one in the story, said Heisel, and makes for a more genuine experience.
“How the artist can transport an audience to some place completely different, Shakespeare was able to do it just by his words and by the poetry and the imagination of the actor,” he said. “So this is a nod to the Shakespearean tradition that we are taking everything to a basic level of story telling and using all the tools that we have in the theater to make this happen without all the bells and whistles, but the imagination.”
The play gives the idea of going for impossible dreams and reaching for the highest star making the world a better place, according to Heisel, and he hopes that’s what the audience takes away when watching this classic Broadway musical.
“The idea of, yes, we can dream impossible dreams, we can help other people to achieve their dreams, it’s a story of hope.”
“Man of La Mancha” is playing June 7, 8, and 9 at 7:30 p.m. at The Van Fleet Theater in the Columbus Performing Arts Center at 549 Franklin Avenue. Tickets are $5. For more information visit www.gcpplayers.com.