Local Talent: Howard Schor on his new play, D's Place | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Local Talent: Howard Schor on his new play, D's Place

A veteran theater producer with more than 30 plays to his credit, D's Place, written and directed by Howard Schor, will debut at 2nd Street Theater.

"My play is mythic more than seedy. I see D as a cross between Mary Magdalene and Don Corleone," says Howard Schor, co-founder and executive director of the Bend Experimental Art Theatre (BEAT).

A veteran theater producer with more than 30 plays to his credit, D's Place, written and directed by Schor, will debut at 2nd Street Theater. Five years in the making, the playwright views his piece, which encompasses two acts revolving around prostitutes and brothels, the first in Denver in 1864, the second in 1881, as "My ode to women. My myth of the first liberated woman."

Schor researched Denver in the late 1800s to make D's Place historically accurate. Books like Soiled Doves and exploring the Denver Historical Society lead Schor to believe that prostitutes of this era can be seen as the first female entrepreneurs of the Old West.

"And prostitution was totally legal at this time," says Schor, "Some of these women made tons of money."

Schor has been active in the local theater community since arriving in Bend in 2002 and by 2006 he had founded BEAT, the youth theater education program that has produced 28 plays and musicals since its inception. A native of New York City, Schor has also written books, including 2002's A Place for Starr, a story about domestic violence told from a child's point of view. He's currently working on two other projects - a novel and a nonfiction book.

During our conversation, Schor and I discussed the idea of a liberated woman. Is it naïve to assume that Central Oregon audiences will embrace prostitutes as forerunners of the feminist movement, or will they see D's Place as too controversial, or even worse, too idealistic or even exploitive?'

"How would D think at this time in history? I believe the first woman who wanted to be free of reliance upon men financially would think like a man. She would not think like Gloria Steinem or Betty Friedan," Schor says. "D is actually very erudite. Very independent. She has very high morals. She is a true independent thinker when she says things like, 'We just killed millions of people [in the Civil War], but we are ostracized for giving pleasure.'"

The plot of D's Place focuses on D as she rises through the ranks of prostitutes to becoming a high-class madam.

"And one of the richest women in Denver who wants to bring her daughter into the family business the same way a man would pass his legacy onto his son," says Schor.

Though D's Place is recommended for mature audiences only, Schor also stresses that his play is tastefully done. "What we are doing here is not gratuitous. The language of the play is dense and highly stylized. There is no violence, no nudity, but tons of innuendo. There may be some controversy because of the provocative material, but this should be seen as a myth that happened 160 years ago," he says.

D's Place stars Central Oregon actors Elise Franklin, Dakota Foote and Danika Golombek with a supporting cast that includes Schor's wife and B.E.A.T. co-founder Mary Kilpatrick, in addition to Tiffany LeGuyonne and Rebekah Sharpe. "Bringing this play to life has been a profound experience with an incredible cast."

Schor hopes audiences that view D's Place will understand his appreciation of women. "I've always truthfully felt at a certain level that women are of course not only equal to men, but in many instances more evolved." There is much for both women and men to appreciate in this tribute. "I hope women who come to the play think it is an interesting and powerful piece. I hope men will come and see a production filled with beautiful, powerful women surrounded by men who adore them."

D's Place

Opens May 13 and runs through May 28 at the 2 nd Street Theater, 220 NE Lafayette Ave., 541-312-9626. Tickets available at beattickets.org.

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