By Marty Clear
If you've been to the theater in recent weeks, there's a good chance you've enjoyed Gavin Hawk's work. He directed Jobsite Theatre's Closetland, which recently closed a popular run, and he's currently appearing as an evil minister in The Foreigner at American Stage.
He's now directing Congratulations, Joe! for A Simple Theatre, the 2-year-old company that he co-founded with Meg Heimstead.
"It's the summer of Gavin," Heimstead said.
Congratulations, Joe! is penned by local writer Lee Irby. The Simple Theatre production is the world premiere.
"One of our goals when we started out was to do one world premiere every year," Hawk said, "This is our first."
Hawk and Irby both teach at Eckerd College. In a faculty meeting last year, Irby mentioned a play he was writing. Hawks suggested some tweaks, and after Irby did the re-write, Hawk knew he wanted A Simple Theatre to premiere the play.
Irby's comedy revolves around three parties for 30-something Joe, who still lives with his parents. The first party celebrates Joe finally landing his dream job at the local prison. The other parties note his promotions, but as it turns out the pressure of mid-level bureaucracy is too much for Joe's limited skills.
It's a fast-paced farce with a large cast that includes several local theater stalwarts, including Heimstead, Ricky Wayne and Bonnie Agan.