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Peterborough

Staging ‘Shimmer’

Agnes Table theater workshop staging one-man show about boy’s coming of age at ConVal

  • Jason Lambert rehearses for the debut of "Shimmer," a one-man play to be performed this weekend at ConVal High School.
  • Jason Lambert rehearses for the debut of "Shimmer," a one-man play to be performed this weekend at ConVal High School.
  • Jason Lambert rehearses for the debut of "Shimmer," a one-man play to be performed this weekend at ConVal High School.

A gritty semi-autobiographical tale of a 15-year-old’s experiences as he prepares to leave a juvenile home in Iowa, “Shimmer” will be the next project of the Agnes Table theater workshop, with two preview performances at the Lucy Hurlin Theatre at ConVal High School tonight and Friday.

“It’s sort of a coming-of-age story, about a friendship this boy develops and how it helps him make choices with his life. The character is a great observer of the world around him, but he hasn’t really figured out how to act in that world,” says Jason Lambert of Peterborough, one of the founders of Agnes Table, who will be taking on multiple roles in the one-man play. “It was written by John O’Keefe and first performed in 1988. I first saw it in Seattle in 1989.”

The play has strong language — “I’d say it’s about a PG-13 rating,” Lambert says — and is very realistic.

“It’s a vivid reminder of what it’s like to be 15, on the cusp of so many things,” Lambert says. “This boy was in and out of foster care throughout his childhood. He’s used to following institutional rules. He was never the strongest or the most popular; he was a bit of a wallflower and a dreamer. But the spark of a new friendship helps him to act.”

Lambert, who is 46 and teaches at ConVal High School, said it’s not necessarily a challenge to play a 15-year-old, because that’s just one of the characters he’ll portray. At times he’ll be in the role of O’Keefe as the older narrator looking back on his life. He’ll also be the younger O’Keefe’s best friend, in addition to shifting back and forth among about 10 other characters in the play.

“It’s really satisfying to try on the different people who were an important part of O’Keefe’s life,” Lambert says.

“Shimmer” is the first production of the Shimmer Project, a Kickstarter-funded effort designed to engage and build new audiences and communities in the Northeast, with a particular focus on the northern New England states. Lambert says the members of Agnes Table raised more than $3,500 to get the project started.

“We had 54 backers, at least half of whom were from the [Monadnock] area,” he says.

In addition to presenting “Shimmer,” the project is designed to invite artist residencies where communities, institutions and individuals have the opportunity to participate in workshops in writing, devising and performing for the theater. Lambert says the play’s title is a good representation of what the group hopes to accomplish.

“Shimmer is a multifaceted word for the idea that the world is illuminated, and connected, and full of energy and magic and beauty and mystery,” he says. “It’s a world that’s vibrating with possibilities.”

Following the preview performances at ConVal, the Shimmer Project will premiere the play on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday at the Harbor Stage Company in Wellfleet, Mass. And in November, they’ll do a new work, titled “Momma at the Gate,” inspired by Brecht’s “Mother Courage” and a Korean author’s novelette called “Momma’s Stake,” performed in both English and Korean, at Franklin Pierce University in Rindge.

“Agnes Table is a workshop for professionals and for teaching theater artists,” Lambert says. “We’re a group who come together to investigate new material in the studio. We’re exploring a range of traditional and experimental theater techniques.”

The performances of “Shimmer” will be at 7:30 p.m. tonight and Friday at ConVal High School’s Lucy Hurlin Theatre in Peterborough. Tickets are $10 each and can be reserved by contacting Lambert at agnestable@gmail.com or by calling 646 369-4803. Tickets may also be purchased at the door.

Dave Anderson can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 233 or danderson@ledgertranscript.com. He’s on Twitter at @DaveAndersonMLT.

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