Bill Ronis pauses during a read-through of “Taming the Wilderness, or the Founding of a Town” on Monday night inside Craig Middle School’s auditorium. David Morris, a CMS English and theater teacher, took a tongue-in-cheek approach to the founding of Craig when he wrote the play, which Black Mountain Theatre is producing.

Photo by Bridget Manley

Bill Ronis pauses during a read-through of “Taming the Wilderness, or the Founding of a Town” on Monday night inside Craig Middle School’s auditorium. David Morris, a CMS English and theater teacher, took a tongue-in-cheek approach to the founding of Craig when he wrote the play, which Black Mountain Theatre is producing.

Craig resident’s new play takes a farcical look at Craig’s founding

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Sneak peek at 'Taming the Wilderness'

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Craig resident Roni Smith reads a part in David Morris’ play, “Taming the Wilderness, or the Founding of a Town,” on Monday night in the Craig Middle School auditorium. Smith, 59, said she’s been acting off and on in productions since she was 3.

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David Morris gives direction to an actor during a read-through of his play, “Taming the Wilderness, or the Founding of a Town,” on Monday night at Craig Middle School. He did some research through the Museum of Northwest Colorado on the people involved in Craig’s founding, he said. “From there, I left reality,” he said, laughing.

At a glance ...

• Local thespians are rehearsing for a production of a new original play written by Craig resident David Morris.

• “Taming the Wilderness, or the Founding of a Town,” takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to the people and events that shaped early Craig.

• Morris is still seeking actors to perform in the play, which is tentatively scheduled to debut in early May.

• For more information, call Morris at 824-7158.

Quotable

“I’m having this … pretentious, lofty idea and I’m bringing it a little bit more down to earth, you might say.”

— David Morris, Craig Middle School English and theater teacher, about his new play, “Taming the Wilderness, or the Founding of a Town.”

Romulus and Remus are twins who are dead-set on bringing civilization to a barely-settled hinterland.

Only, in David Morris’ farcical retelling of local history, the twins aren’t vying over the future site of Rome. Instead, their story takes place in what will later be known as Craig.

“I’m having this … pretentious, lofty idea and I’m bringing it a little bit more down to earth, you might say,” Morris said about his newest play, “Taming the Wilderness, or the Founding of a Town.”

The Craig Middle School English and theater teacher went to Dan Davidson, Museum of Northwest Colorado director, to get familiar with the historical figures involved in Craig’s founding, he said.

“From there, I left reality,” he said.

The production uses a hearty dose of slapstick humor to re-envision Craig’s creation in the 1880s.

It also includes tongue-in-cheek references to more recent developments.

Romulus and Remus Tucker, the two would-be town fathers, skirmish over where to put Thunder Rolls Bowling Center and other local landmarks that won’t appear on the scene for 100 years or more.

This kind of fanciful approach to local history “gives you an opportunity to rib local issues, and people get a kick out of it because they can identify with some aspects of it,” said Morris, 59.

He’s been writing plays off and on for about 25 years, he said, and his work includes several plays performed in Craig.

Morris begins by toying with a concept for a while before he sits down to write, he said.

Although he has an idea where a play will go, he doesn’t eliminate the possibility the final draft will deviate from his mental roadmap.

“That’s the fun thing about writing plays,” he said. “Things can change in mid-write.”

Morris waited for would-be actors to arrive before the first read-through of “Taming the Wilderness” on Monday night inside the CMS auditorium.

Craig resident Roni Smith was among the first to arrive. The community theater participant has been acting on and off since she was 3.

“It’s a joy,” the 59-year-old said. “When you start out that young, it becomes a part of you.”

She couldn’t pass up the chance to get back on the stage, especially when she learned Morris had written the play.

“I love humor, and David’s plays are a lot of fun to do,” she said.

Bill Ronis, who teaches at Maybell Elementary School, also put in his bid for a part in the play, which is produced by Black Mountain Theatre.

In Ronis’ view, a community theater gives would-be thespians an opportunity they can’t find in metropolitan areas.

“In a big city, I probably wouldn’t get selected for anything,” he said.

“Here, they’re dying for people and I always get a part.”

The play is tentatively scheduled to debut in early May, Morris said, but that date is subject to change.

As for what he hopes the audience gets out of the production?

“A lot of laughs,” he said. “That’s all I ever want.”

Morris is still seeking actors to perform in the play. Rehearsals take place at 7 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays at the CMS auditorium.

For more information, call Morris at 824-7158.

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