Theater

Josh Hartwell Takes Off This Week With Grounded, Dylan Went Electric

Page 2 of 2

Also on Hartwell's mind is Dylan Went Electric. Followers of the folk movement will remember that when Bob Dylan switched to an electric guitar, a lot of his fans felt betrayed. This play is about the inhabitants of an underground bar in Greenwich Village in 1969 --- although Dylan had actually gone electric some years earlier. "It feels like such a turning point, 1968 and '69," says Hartwell. "And it has to do with the turning point that Dylan created when he turned his back on his folk fans. I wanted to have a little piece about the Stonewall Riots that took place blocks away, too. The show is meant to give people a feel for that era and place. It has a lot to do with music. One of the main characters is a folk musician, an acoustic musician rehearsing songs in this bar during the day. I wrote the lyrics, leaving the actor who plays the character, to come up with the music." That actor is Damon Guerrasio, who plays with several local bands.

Being asked what kind of plays he writes "kind of surprises me," Hartwell says. "I don't get asked that question very much. It's a combination of things. Sometimes a phrase, sometimes music. I write from a lot of darkness, but I'm also influenced by music, rock and roll. I had my John Lennon play, Reaching for Comfort, and my Jim Morrison play, Contrived Ending, based on a friend of mine who had been a big Doors fan. The starting point is music and pop culture, and then the other things come later. This is generally speaking. I've written all my plays differently. If it wasn't pretentious and wouldn't make people laugh, I think it would be cool to have a card that said 'Rock and Roll Playwright.' But with that card, I don't think they'd expect a 41-year-old bald guy with no tattoos."

Grounded opens Thursday, September 11 and runs through September 28 at Avenue Theater, 417 East 17th Avenue. Tickets are $16 to $27; call 303-321-5925 or go to avenuetheater.com .

Dylan Went Electric opens Friday, September 12 and runs through October 19 at Miners Alley, 1224 Washington Avenue in Golden. Tickets are $12 to $23; call 303-935-3044 or go to minersalley.com.


KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Juliet Wittman is an investigative reporter and critic with a passion for theater, literature, social justice and food. She has reviewed theater for Westword for over a decade; for many years, she also reviewed memoirs for the Washington Post. She has won several journalism awards and published essays and short stories in literary magazines. Her novel, Stocker's Kitchen, can be obtained at select local bookstores and on Amazon.
Contact: Juliet Wittman

Latest Stories