TheatreXP is gearing up for the world premiere of a new play that uses an intriguing mix of dialogue in a monologue paired with an otherworldly premise to explore the triumphs, challenges and shortcomings of family members gathered to mourn the death of one of their own. Inspired by true events, Crossing the Veil, written by Theater XP Artistic Director RT “Bob” Bowersox, is coming to Philadelphia for a limited engagement, November 5-26 at Plays & Players’ Skinner Studio.
Crossing the Veil was inspired by an event during Bowersox’s own father’s funeral visitation. His brother Paul – a man with 30 years of experience and training in the senses and crafts of shamanism (he studied extensively with Carlos Castaneda’s disciples in Mexico) – reported that he sensed the spirit of their father in the room as they came to say their last goodbyes.
“It was a very real feeling for Paul,” Bowersox said, “to the point that he felt aware of where our father’s spirit really was in the room. We wondered if he could hear what we were saying, or even thinking. Would he be aware of the emotions we were feeling? This experience scarred me for years, cooking just below the surface until last year, when I finally felt that I had treated it enough to write the play.
Many of the thoughts and emotions expressed by the characters in the play are drawn from Bowersox’s own life and his relationship with his father, giving the play an authenticity and immediacy rarely captured in a theatrical experience.
“I hope it leaves the audience with truths that they might find relevant in their own lives,” Bowersox said. “That’s what theater is supposed to do, isn’t it?
On the day of his funeral, the spirit of a recently deceased man finds himself in the viewing room of the funeral home with his wife, son, and daughter as everyone comes to bid farewell. As he tries to interact with them, he realizes that they can neither see nor hear him, although he has no trouble doing either with them. As the afternoon progresses, what he learns from each of them is not at all what he remembers of his life. The play is an intriguing mix of dialogue in monologue as the characters grapple with the triumphs and shortcomings of each of their lives, leading them to an uplifting reconciliation with the love they have for each other.
Crossing the Veil will be Bowersox’s 41st theatrical production. He began producing and directing full-time during his 12-year stint in South Florida – not only his original works, but also stagings of some of the most iconic plays of the modern era. . He went south after leaving a 22-year stint as a host for electronics retail giant QVC, where he was the first hired host in 1986, and its flagship show, In the Kitchen with Bob, was the highest rated show on the network for over 19 years. He returned to Philadelphia a little over a year ago, looking to get involved again in what he considers one of the best theatrical communities in the country.
Bowersox leads a cast that includes Mark Del Guzzo as Martin Hopewell, Heather Plank as Maggie Hopewell, Julia Rose Majerscak as Lisa Hopewell, Jared M. Calhoun as Ben Hopewell, Bob Weick as the role of Father Patrick O’Shea and Nancy Segal as Constance Rustin. The technical director is Kathryn Wylde and the stage manager is Melody G. Moore. Crossing the Veil is produced by Bowersox for TheatreXP and Nancy Segal for Fever Dream Productions.
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