INDIANAPOLIS — Butler Theatre begins its spring 2013 season with "Pigeons," a new play by Butler English Professor Dan Barden, Feb. 20 to March 3 in Lilly Hall Studio Theatre 168.
Tickets are $15 for general admission, $10 for senior citizens, and $5 for Butler students with identification. Tickets are available online at butler.edu/theatre/productions/reservations/ or may be reserved by calling the box office at 940-9247 beginning two weeks before each production opens.
"Pigeons," directed by Theatre Department Chair Diane Timmerman, begins with previews at 8 p.m. Feb. 20 and 21. It opens at 8 p.m. Feb. 22 and runs at 8 p.m. Feb. 23, 28, March 1 and 2, and 2 p.m. Feb. 24, March 2 and 3.
"Pigeons," which takes place on a sidewalk outside an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in a metropolitan area, tells the story of a group of young women who are all sponsored by the same charismatic and powerful woman named Sarah. They're gathered on the sidewalk because they have the sense something is wrong with Sarah, and they're trying to find out what it is.
"It's an intense moment in all their lives where they're hashing out a lot of the things that have happened to them," Barden said, "and basically trying to save their friend who has something going on that she won't share with them."
"Pigeons" is Barden's second play for Butler Theatre. He wrote his first one, "Luke's Father and the Sled," in 2004 at Timmerman's request "and it was one of the most delightful experiences I've ever had as a writer," he said.
"It opened my mind to ways of doing things that I'd never been open to before," Barden said. "The primary reason for that was that I wanted to provide something for these young actors to do. I wrote the play with them in mind, I revised the play as they were doing rehearsals, and it was just a great experience for me."
Since rehearsals began, Barden has attended all rehearsals and revised his script as needed. Timmerman said having him there "is an amazing experience. Dan generously responds to the actors, incorporating their ideas into the play. The actors are truly enjoying the rare opportunity to be deeply involved with the script revision process."
Barden, whose second novel, The Next Right Thing, was published by The Dial Press in 2012, said writing plays is "infinitely more fun" than writing novels because "you get to bring the characters into your room and say, 'Hey, say this for me and let me see how that sounds.'
"If the lines are not funny or dramatic or moving, it's clear to everyone in the room, and it's clear to everyone in the room that it's my fault," he said. "So the moment of horrible reckoning is very sharp and very short and I go back and make it better very quickly."
Ultimately, Barden said, what audiences will see is "a good, short, powerful, dramatic, and, hopefully, funny play."