For Dominick Palamenti, theater is a family affair. He first became involved in theater while living in Italy, working in Shakespeare troupes. When he moved to New York City to study acting, he met Sea Aviar, whom he married. Aviar was originally from Virginia, and when the couple decided three years ago to move back, it was the theater scene that drew them to Charlottesville. "It seemed alive and accessible," Palamenti says.
When in Charlottesville, Palamenti met Janine Reagan, president of Horseshoe Bend Players in Scottsville, which he regarded as a "small group with a great space." With Aviar, Palamenti took on a collection of one-act plays, directing two and acting in a third for Horseshoe Bend. It was all part of his plan to "re-energize the mission of bringing good theater to the Scottsville area."
Palamenti recently took over the reins as artistic director for Horseshoe Bend. As is typical of small troupes, this artistic director schedules the season’s productions and runs every aspect from audition to promotion. He even fills in as director or actor when needed. For Horseshoe Bend’s current production of Donald Margulies’ Collected Stories, which runs through November 23, Palamenti directed.
Palamenti says he was attracted to Collected Storiesfor basic technical reasons. The play, which he says is easy to cast, is "very smart with an intellectual bent." The play follows a familiar story line as an established writer becomes a mentor for a young aspiring writer, who, in time, becomes an equal to, and then surpasses the older writer. Palamenti is intrigued by the play’s dynamics.
"It deals with loyalty and betrayal," he says. "It’s about the conflict the older generation feels to let go but retain their own individual achievements, while being overshadowed by a younger generation."
Though he just recently began working for Horseshoe Bend, Palamenti already has long-term goals for the Players to establish it as a company "that can be depended upon to produce a series of shows."
Meeting that goal could mean reorienting Scottsville audiences, who have yet to get used to the idea of a resident theater company, he says. "We hope that the town itself and local restaurants will benefit from theater nightlife," he says. "We want to be a dependable source of theater, rather than ‘catch it while you can.’"
Horseshoe Bend is in the process of remodeling its current Valley Street space, Victory Hall. The former firehouse is being made more conducive to theater. Lobby construction is underway, and wall partitions have gone up to create a backstage and green room area, as well as a tech booth.
As far as life beyond Collected Stories, Palamenti is playing it by ear. He will stage three shows for Horseshoe Bend this season, and looks forward to ongoing collaboration with Aviar, who is assistant directing Collected Stories.
"It’s fantastic working with her," he says. "She brings a keen point of view. It’s a blessing and it works well."
For a schedule of Collected Stories performances, see InsideOut’s Stage listings, page 21 in this weeks paper.