The Magnetic Theatre presents the world premiere of local playwright Peter Lundblad’s Buncombe Tower, opening Friday, May 10, and running Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through June 2. Set in the fictional Wolfe City, a mirror of Asheville, the play is a fable about gentrification told through poetry, puppetry and fantasy.
“I used puppets in the play because they’re fun and people don’t give them enough credit,” Lundblad says. “A puppet can immediately make something potentially serious into something playful, and when something is playful, people just enjoy it.” His inspiration for the occult history of a city where tourists exist on sky bridges and everyone else is relegated to living in the pits came from many places, he says. “I like history, mystery, myth, legend and comic books. There is a comic book I got into which used occult as if it were commonplace. I thought it would be interesting to apply the idea to Asheville and the tourism industry.”
Artistic director Katie Jones promises an “evening filled with wonder and imagination. The play itself is darkly humorous and also takes scathing jabs at the city’s patterns of gentrification,” she says, “so it is the perfect balance of humor and social criticism. Buncombe Tower will appeal to anyone that loves the weirdness that is Asheville.”
Cast members are Lindsay Lee, Corey Parlamento, Jay Allen Ponton and Marlene Thompson. Other production members are Jason Williams (lighting design), Andrew Gall and Tyler Johnson (set design and carpentry), Mary Zogzas (sound design), Rachel Weisberg (costume design), Jessica Johnson (properties), Valerie Meiss and Jim Julien (puppet design and consultation) and Caroline Daniels and Kristen Hernandez (stage management and board operation).
The Magnetic Theatre is at 375 Depot Street in Asheville’s River Arts District. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. Tickets are $18 for general admission and $10 for students. For more information or to reserve tickets, visit TheMagneticTheatre.org or call 828.239.9250.