Mercy or Justice?
An unforgettably groundbreaking story of survival, hope, and retribution. Written by Travis W. Inman and directed by Jesús Quintero, this highly experimental piece, both provocative and intense, was performed in Sandpoint, Idaho In March and April to sold-out audiences in the intimate setting of Monarch Mountain Coffee.
Executive Producer: Carolina Sa
Directed by Jesús Quintero
Produced by Julie Berreth
"Thanks for bringing works of this caliber to Sandpoint."
"... a very unique experience!"
Avant-garde production lets
the audience take the lead
By Lynne Haley
Bonner County Daily Bee
March 27, 2016
SANDPOINT – Interactive theater debuts this evening with the opening of “16 Hours,” a one-act play written by Travis W. Inman of Bonners Ferry.
American Laboratory Theatre is producing the play under the direction of Jesús Quintero. Four performances will take place at Monarch Mountain Coffee, 208 N. Fourth Ave., in Sandpoint March 25 & 26 and April 1 & 2. Opening night is sold out.
The small venue, with seating for 38, provides an intimate setting for the play, which tells the story of a Holocaust survivor looking for revenge on those who killed his family. While this may sound like a straightforward drama, it is anything but, said Julie Berreth, directing producer for ALT.
“It’s a groundbreaking, avant-garde experimental piece,” she said, “with elements of dance, movement, voice, song and symbolism.”
Inman, who has also authored the “Glenfield Series” of novels, has given ALT a wide berth to experiment and innovate with the production, Berreth said. A unique aspect of “16 Hours” is that the audience will actually be a part of the play. “We’re pushing a lot of boundaries,” said Berreth. “We’re making people take what they’ve seen and draw their own conclusions.”
Local actors make up the cast. Mason Jones plays Isaac Jacobs, Keely Gray is Katrina, and Haley Nicholson plays Rose. Rhonda Reed, Jeremiah Guidos and Cory Repass play Miss Kincaid, Mr. Cato and Franz Behr, respectively. The executive producer is Carolina Sa.
ALT produced “The Rocky Horror Show” in October 2015. The organization has also hosted its premier session of an international theatre school this past summer.
“We invited some of our collaborators and some of Jesús’s contacts from throughout the world. They worked very hard and created five different compositions in five days. Then we had a presentation in town at the Little Panida Theater,” said Berreth. “We plan to do it again August 10 – 17.”
Quintero, ALT founder and artistic director learned his craft at Teatro Libre in Bogota, Colombia, but he has been active in theater throughout the world. He and his family moved to the area from Miami, Fla., in 2012. With American Laboratory Theatre, he hopes to create the theater hub of the Northwest,” Berreth said.
Quintero also teaches drama and Monarch School in Heron, Mont., and at Sandpoint’s Waldorf School.
“Our mission is quite simple,” said Berreth. “To educate, inspire and entertain.”
Art from Chaos
Playwright Travis Inman describes the production of ’16 Hours’
By Travis Inman
March 31, 2016
In 1991, I was out adventuring with a handful of my fellow seminary students in South America. We stumbled across a Jewish settlement in the mountains near Cordoba, Argentina. The little town looked like a series of gingerbread houses and cuckoo clocks. I learned that the community was full of Jewish refugees who fled Europe during the war, which is why the settlement so strongly resembled Germany.
There was a large tree with a rope hanging from its limbs. I asked them when they were going to repair the tire swing so the kids could have a place to play. The man shook his finger and said, “Not a toy. This is where they hung the Nazi who was hiding amongst us.”
The experience stuck in my mind. Many years later, I wrote a play about a Holocaust survivor who lost his wife and children to the Nazis and becomes determined to track those responsible down. He takes the entire group hostage at a bank, intending to publicly execute them. But nothing goes according to plan.
Jesús Quintero of American Laboratory Theatre decided to direct the play. He is a man of vision and his mind works like a van Gogh painting. When I presented him the script, he saw an opportunity to do something significant. He stuffed the entire story into a cocoon and allowed the chrysalis process to transform that sleepy caterpillar into a work of art. What emerged was an incredible interpretation of my story, but with amazing theatrical elements that are almost impossible to describe.
The first thing I noticed was a new character in the script: Death. I know, right? Death! But it was brilliant! And his new character was smug and manipulative. And enchanting. And tempting. And I loved it. I really wish I’d thought of it myself. How can you tell a story about the Holocaust without death? And once the audience figures out that the characters are dancing with Death, then the play begins to make sense.
Jesús also wanted to direct the play from the stage while it was happening. It sounds like chaos. And it works.
Jesús chose to make the play a very intimate experience, transforming Monarch Mountain Coffee from the small café into an interactive theatre. The audience sits at their tables, and the play is performed all around them, from one end of the room to the other, and it goes back and forth for the entire performance. There is no perfect place to sit. At some point, your chair will be right in the middle of the action, and it happens without warning.
We worked out an idea where the play would have two possible endings: mercy or justice. Should the gunman execute the murderous Nazi, or should he grant mercy and allow him to live? Well, you, Mr. Audience Member, get to decide just that. As soon as you see the ending you voted for, you want to see the alternate, but that won’t happen. You’ll be left wondering.
After I saw the performance and experienced the transformation of my story for the first time, many people approached me and asked if this was my original vision. Of course, I have to say, “No.” It’s not at all what I envisioned when I wrote it. But it’s exactly the same story. And it’s told through dance, song, dialog and acting. And it’s uncomfortable. There are some very painful moments that I won’t discuss. You have to experience it. Having said that, this story is a celebration of life, and I’m so proud to be a part of it. I wish I could take full credit, but I wouldn’t dare. Jesús and I worked together to make something that neither of us could do on our own. And from chaos comes art.
About the Playwright
Travis W. Inman grew up in the ranch country of West Texas and worked as a cowboy for his first 20 years. Travis graduated from seminary in Dallas, Texas, and later served a year in the mission field in Mexico and South America. He returned home and married Sarah, his wife and sweetheart of more than 20 years. They have two teenagers whom they home school.
Over the years, Travis has applied his skills to a variety of fields, ranging from marketing and real estate to criminal justice and law enforcement. Travis served in the United States Army where he overcame a devastating injury and was able to walk again despite the odds.
Writing is a life-long passion for Travis. His short stories and poems have been selected for publication in a variety of newspapers and on Internet sites. Travis’ writing includes children’s literature, action adventure, short stories, one act plays, love stories, westerns, sci-fi, thrillers, and drama.
Travis and Sarah Inman currently reside in New Mexico.
by Travis W. Inman
Secret societies, dangerous passions, and untold millions await Justin “Flip” Grey when he arrives at a banking conference for a weekend seminar. Little does he know he is being auditioned for inclusion with The Lair, a group of businessmen who influence more than theeconomy. They hold the President’s ear. And they need to know what Justin is made of.