Despite living in New York City, Samuel D. Hunter writes plays that are centered in Idaho, where he was born and raised. He wants to represent a world formerly unknown to many audience members. In “The Few” specifically, Hunter sheds light on a counterculture that audiences may also not know that of truckers.
Christopher Goodrich, co-producing artistic director of the Unexpected Stage Company along with Rachel Stroud-Goodrich, said he was drawn by “‘The Few’s’ unique group of people, fantastic writing and wonderful story.”
Hunter, the recipient of a MacArthur Genius Award, is best known for his plays “A Bright New Boise,” which won the 2011 Obie Award for playwriting and “The Whale,” winner of the 2013 Drama Desk Award and the 2013 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Play.
“The Few” is a play set in 1999 about the universal theme of loss, said Goodrich.
Bryan, a trucker, had left the community four years before the time of the play for a reason he did not reveal. Previously, he had been putting out a serious newspaper named “The Few,” which he hoped would bring the truckers together “to fight the loneliness we all feel.” In leaving, he had abandoned the idea of the newspaper and QZ (Dawn Thomas Reidy), a woman he was involved with.
When Bryan returns, one of his friends is gone, and QZ has hired a young man, Matthew (Andrew Flurer), to take over the paper. It was now full of personal ads.
One line in the play that Goodrich found particularly compelling is Bryan’s statement that a trucker is alone for so long, he starts to forget he even exists.
Portraying Bryan is Baakari Wilder, who grew up in Prince George’s County and participated in his first professional show at the Folger Theatre when still in middle school.
Wilder’s gift of tap dancing, however, took him to Broadway, where he appeared in “Bring in Da Noise, Bring in Da Funk.” If dancing is his number one love, acting comes in as a close second.
“(Goodrich) and I have a great relationship,” Wilder said. “So, when he asked me to be a part of “The Few,” I considered it, and accepted.”
“I take any opportunity to work on my craft, and this is a very strong, passionate play,” Wilder added. “It has been challenging, and there’s a lot here to work with.”
That includes a “great number” of lines, the actor said.
“It is one thing to read a play and get in touch with the character’s emotions. It’s a whole different experience to try to embody the character and to move in sync with other actors. I must understand what the play needs, and the character needs, to stay in the moment,” Wilder said.
“If the play is, on the surface, about truckers,” he added, “it is really about relationships and personal connections.”
To emphasize human loneliness and the need for people to connect, Goodrich decided to stage “The Few” in a way that audience members are looking at each other rather than the stage.
To add authenticity, Goodrich also has trucker memorabilia on the set.
“The Few” runs July 11 – August 4, taking place at the River Road Unitarian Universalist Congregation’s Fireside Room, 6301 River Road, Bethesda.
The preview performance on July 11 at 7:30 p.m., is Pay What You Wish. There are discounts for military, seniors and students. For tickets, visit www.unexpectedstage.org or call 800-838-3006.