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'ARTiculation' draws on Boston and local talent for inspiration

Banner Staff | 1/7/2009, 4:37 a.m.
“ARTiculation” follows six Boston poets using wordplay, written by the performers themselves, to wend their way through an imaginative landscape featuring ruminations on life, love, youth, race, art and more. Company One

Local theater group Company One has developed a reputation of late for presenting vibrant artistic fare. Over the past three seasons, the Boston Center for the Arts resident company has produced challenging works by acclaimed playwrights like Lydia Diamond and Stephen Adly Guirgis, opened the door for emerging talents like John ADEkoje and Kirsten Greenidge, and staged sharp adaptations of classics by the likes of Stephen Sondheim and Toni Morrison.

While the subject matter of Company One’s recent productions has spanned the cultural spectrum, one constant runs through each performance — a font of young, ethnically diverse players that imbue each scene with the energy and edge that makes the company relevant.

Company One’s newest production, “ARTiculation,” which opens tomorrow, draws deeply from that font in the hopes of achieving what it calls an “artistic revolution.”

The seeds for “ARTiculation” were planted five years ago, when Company One performers Tory Bullock, Terri Deletetsky, Nik Walker and Daniel Balel (along with two other members no longer with the company) began working together to craft the show’s unique mix of poetry and theatrics. After a half-decade of performances at educational and community venues across New England, the piece is finally getting a mainstage run at the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre.

According to advance materials provided by the company, “ARTiculation” follows six Boston poets using wordplay, written by the performers themselves, to wend their way through an imaginative landscape featuring ruminations on life, love, youth, race, art and more.

The show possesses a uniquely local character, as each of the poets calls Boston home.

“‘ARTiculation’ owes its fire to Boston; the pros and cons of this city ... make it work,” said Walker, son of WBZ-TV’s Liz Walker, who earned praise for his portrayal of the Balladeer in Company One’s 2008 staging of Sondheim’s “Assassins.”

“As Boston has changed, so has this piece, and we’re constantly reworking bits to make it current with where our city stands at that moment,” Walker added.

For Bullock, who originally came up with the idea to pen the piece, the way “ARTiculation” depicts youth is as important as the way it reps its city.

“I wanted to create a show that showed youth as young, very intelligent, very aware and artistically inclined,” he said.

And now, as both city and show have grown up, “ARTiculation” is ready for its coming-out party, according to Balel.

“I feel like the piece started as an awkward teenager with braces and glasses that was pretty talented, and turned into a pretty hot twenty- something with a devil may care attitude and nothing to lose,” he said.

Veteran director Lois Roach has been tapped to guide the young poets/performers through “ARTiculation.” With a résumé that includesstops at the Black Folks Theater, the Lyric Stage Company, SpeakEasy Stage Company and New Repertory Theatre, Roach has seen her fair share of performance pieces, and said she is happy to helm this production.

“I love words,” said Roach, who directed Company One’s production of “Six Rounds / Six Lessons” in 2007. “I love the energy, dynamics and spirit of this ensemble. They have something powerful and interesting to say.”

“ARTiculation” opens tomorrow, Jan. 9, 2009, and runs through Jan. 24, 2009, at the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, 949 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston. Tickets for the Thursday and Sunday performances cost $25, Friday and Saturday shows cost $30, and student and senior discounts are available. For show times and tickets, call 866-811-4111, visit www.companyone.org, or purchase them in person at the Playwrights’ Theatre box office at 949 Commonwealth Ave., Boston.

For more information, visit www.companyone.org.