Coronado Theatre Group Discovers New Talent

By Martha Look

Karen and I came to Panama in April of this year with nine suitcases and a sense of adventure.  This sense of adventure has led us to get involved in activities we would not have even considered if we had stayed in Texas. For example, we participated in the play “Smalls Talk”, which was done at Picasso in December.  Neither one of us had ever been in a play.  Karen had worked on sets for plays when she was 12 and thought it would be fun to do that again now that we had “free” time.

We met T. Rob Brown, or “Roberto Chocolate” as he sometimes calls himself, at the play “Proof” that the Boquete players did at Picasso in August.  Karen told Rob that she would like to sign up with the Coronado theatre company, Panama and Cocle Theatre Company (PaCT) to help with sets for the next play. In October, the crew involved with “Smalls Talk” began getting together on Sunday afternoons to read the play and talk about sets. We were still newbies and didn’t have a lot on our schedule yet, other than The Pool and Happy Hour, so we were excited about meeting new people and doing something different.

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Martha and Karen with their castmates onstage at Picasso!

The crew met at Wayne and Lise Halladay’s bohio to read parts and discuss the play over wine, beer and hors d’oerves.  People had already been chosen for parts, but if someone didn’t show to read, Karen would be asked to read their part.  Before she knew it, she had been invited to BE that character!  So, then, I started participating in the Sunday afternoon gatherings so that I could help with sets as well.

But, you guessed it! One of the characters stopped showing up, and after reading that part for two weeks so that the cast could practice, I asked if I should start memorizing the part. If I wanted the part, it was mine!  Heady excitement! Something we both had never done before!

Reality jumped in and slammed us when we started having to memorize our lines. We would NEVER be able to do this! No way! But we kept at it – we would take our script to the pool and memorize after a swim. We would take our script to lunch and dinner and attempt to memorize! We would take the script to bed and memorize!  We worried and worried! There was no way we could memorize all of the parts!  We looked forward to practice which was fun! We worked hard, we practiced hard! We made good friends out of the people we were working with and felt like we were part of something.  Soon we were practicing daily (we had to stop having wine and beer at each get together).  The play was shaping up!

Finally, the first night of the play arrived!  It was SOLD OUT, BOTH NIGHTS!  Waiting list only!  Nerves big time! We’ve been told that it was great and funny! Nobody knows how many lines we botched. In the end, although it was way outside our comfort zone, we enjoyed doing “SmallsTalk”.  We got to know the group of people in the play and now count them as good friends – we went through a crisis together! And we felt very loved by our community of ex-pats and Panamanians. In fact, we were in Riba Smith, a couple days after the play, and a guy came up to Karen and said, “I know you! You were in the play! My girlfriend has to meet you!” Stardom!

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