Be Gentle 

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You are a just-graduated-from-college budding director with big ideas and no money to transform them into a show. How do you get something onstage in order to showcase what you can do? Call on your friends, make a deal and find a good play to produce. At least that's what Brad Tuggle has done.

Tuggle, a recent graduate of Longwood University with a bachelor's degree in theater arts, wants to launch his career as a director. But like most recent graduates, he has little scratch to finance a full-blown theatrical production.

So when he was hired by Theatre IV and negotiated the contract for his journeyman year (half "real job," half internship) with Artistic Director Bruce Miller, he asked to have use of the black box Little Theatre at Empire Theatre as part of the deal. Tuggle will make his showcase directorial debut with Harold Pinter's classic one-act play "The Dumbwaiter" Aug. 2-4.

"I chose Pinter's 'Dumbwaiter' because the text is brilliant," Tuggle says. "It's not absurdist and not realism. The situation is real with hyper-real dialogue. What is not said or done in the play is more important than what is said and done." Tuggle's version will be the first Pinter play produced professionally in the Richmond area since Pinter won the 2005 Nobel Prize in literature.

Three fellow Longwood alumni round out the production team: actors David Janeski (of "Smoke on the Mountain" and "Austin's Bridge"), Carl Calabrese (making his local acting debut) and "Bridge" Stage Manager Maggie Szydlowski.

Tuggle says he's glad to be working with friends. "We are handling all aspects of this show, like set-building, public relations, ticket sales and costumes," he says. "It is really difficult to put on a play on your own without a full-fledged company behind you." S

"The Dumbwaiter" at Empire Theatre shows Aug. 2 at 8 p.m., Aug. 3 at 9:30 p.m. and Aug. 4 at 2 and 8 p.m. Tickets are $5. 399-5513.

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