On November 27th, The Malted Barley will host a public reading of the international hit comedy Red Hot Mamas penned by South County playwright and novelist David Christner. A Russian translation is currently running in State theaters in the cities of Tula and Magnitogorsk, Russia and Minsk, Republic of Belarus. Leonardo Franchini’s Italian translation of “Hot Moms” completed an extended run in Northern Italy in 2017. In addition to the U.S., the show has also been produced in Australia, Ghana, India, and Canada.
Victor Weber, Christner’s Russian translator, recently told Elena Kuklina of the MR News Service in an interview for the Magnitogorsk Worker: “I probably translated 150 or more plays and there were two among them combining brilliant box-office with brilliant dramaturgy and literary basis – these are Red Hot Mamas by David Christner and Ravenscroft - Crow Farm by Don Nigro.”
Weber, a former aeronautical engineer, employs his engineering skills when looking for plays to translate. In the case of “Hot Moms”, he simply searched the noun “playwright” on one of the professional social networks and came up with a list of names, Christner among them. This led him to a Website with links to Christner’s professionally produced plays, reviews, and complete scripts.
Left to right, Bashtanova Tatyana, Igor Panov, Nina Busygina Tatiana & Nina Filonova in Magnitogorsk Drama Theater’s Production of Red Hot Mamas Photo by Igor Pyatinin
“Hot Moms, written in 1999, is an amazing, kind play on a very important topic,” said Weber. “I really liked this work, maybe because I am the same age with his heroines and I understand them well. This piece says that at 60 plus, life is absolutely the same as in 20s, 30s, 40s.” The lead roles of the moms are usually played by two of the producing theater’s most beloved actresses and this show allows them to “show themselves in all their glory,” according to Weber. Currently Weber is working with his grandson on the translation of another of Christner’s plays: A Cat Named Dog & A Dog Named Cat, a comedy for young audiences.
Weber passed Red Hot Mamas along to playwright friend and fellow translator, Leonardo Franchini in Trento Italy; Franchini translated the play and had it produced by the GAD Theater City of Trento under whose auspices it toured Northern Italy for two years. Franchini’s translation of Christner’s comic novel, Huckleberry Hill, was published in June by Eclipse Publishing in Milan and is selling well in the Italian market.
Maxim Kalsin, Artistic Director of the Magnitogorsk Drama Theater, who directed the show in Magnitogorsk said, “The play is universal. These events can occur in the Eskimo igloo and in the Amazon – anywhere. This is an indicator of very powerful drama. Here the author with brilliant drama, excellent language and lively characters manages to get in the eternal theme. “
Director Maxim Kalsin (left) with translator Victor Weber (right) Photo by Igor Pyatinin
Christner, who lives in Saunderstown, is fresh off another successful production. Cambridge University in the UK produced his dark comedy about capital punishment, This Blood’s for You, to much critical praise and full houses in October. “This Blood” will premier in France at the University of Poitiers in May 2019.
Before retiring from his day job to write plays & novels full-time, Christner worked for RMC Technologies in Westerly as a technical writer, a job he considers to be far more difficult and challenging than writing plays. “You can’t make a mistake writing aircraft maintenance manuals,” said Christner. The writing is highly structured and there is no place for humor. In the creative realm, there are no such barriers; a writer is only limited by his or her imagination.”
The fun begins November 27th at 7:00 PM at the Malted Barley on Canal Street in downtown Westerly. The playwright will call for volunteers from the audience to read the parts and everyone who wants to “play” will get a role. No formal training is required, and for the faint of heart, a hardy brew and tasty hot pretzel from the Barley’s kitchen is guaranteed to calm the nerves and sooth the pallet.
Copies of Red Hot Mamas will be available in English; Huckleberry Hill will be available in English and Italian.