Jim Kent: An act of theater with beer-spilling trial in Rapid City

The following is the opinion of Jim Kent. For more news and opinion, subscribe to the Lakota Country Times today. All content © Lakota Country Times.

Without Reservations, a cartoon by Ricardo Cate. Image from Facebook

The Play’s The Thing – Especially In Court
By Jim Kent

So, there I was as the warm weather blew in, black planner in hand (I’m a bit “old-school”), scrolling through Rapid City’s entertainment events trying to decide which were worthwhile.

The U.S. Marine Corps Band of New Orleans in May? A given for a former Marine. “Nana’s Naughty Knickers” in June? Hmm…what would my late Irish Nana think? Dave Chappelle in June? Got to be! The man is back… and in town.

July. What-to-do…what-to-do? Oh, right. There’s that special performance of “The Civic Center Hockey Game Beer Spilling Trial." Mark that down as a definite “can’t miss."

Two shows only for this limited run production. No road-trip planned and sure to draw a crowd. Not quite in the style of “12 Angry Men”, or even “A Few Good Men”, for that matter. Closer, perhaps, to “The Wrong Man” – a Hitchcock classic where an innocent Joe’s mistaken for a criminal.

Now there’s a unique tale: “Honest, your honor. I’m innocent.” Sounds a bit trite, but this play was written with several unique twists that would, literally, have crowds marching in the streets.

And where to stage this recently written cultural drama that promises to be a local classic few will forget? Why at the Performing Arts Center of Rapid City – a recently renovated historic theater that supports a wide range of high quality arts performances.

Jim Kent. Photo from South Dakota Public Radio

As for which category of the arts “The Civic Center Hockey Game Beer Spilling Trial” falls into, I’d have to stamp it a “post-modern (breaking accepted conventions and practices) absurdity” (presenting a perspective where all human attempts at significance are illogical while the ultimate truth is chaos) with basic “realism” (portraying characters on stage that are close to real life) flavored by intense overtones of “expressionism” (distorting the truth lying within man).

In an unusual writing style, the main character: the defendant - accused of throwing beer at Native American students attending a hockey game as well as hurling racial slurs their way, didn’t appear til the second act. A touch of suspense even Hitch missed.

The first plot twist saw the prosecuting attorney’s key witness – a friend of the defendant, testify in support of his friend saying it was all an accident and no one made any racist remarks (to which the prosecutor gently kicked a pile of dirt placed on stage for that purpose, shook his head in dismay and mouthed “Golly, gee…I sure hate when my witness statements backfire.”)

Subsequent surprises arrived when the defense counsel called no witnesses to counter the allegations of beer slinging and racist behavior aimed at the vacant chair of his client; a sub-plot alleging the prosecutor sent e-mails supporting the defendant and the announcement by the judge that there would be a surprise final performance in 3 or 4 weeks - but only after he’d written his lines for the closing act.

Though some feel the finale seems a bit drawn out for a worst-case climax of a Five Franklins fine, we must remember that the play’s the thing – and justice is but a performance.

Find the award-winning Lakota Country Times on the Internet, Facebook and Twitter.

Join the Conversation