Horse Country by C.J. Hopkins

Horse Country by C.J. Hopkins

Ben Schneider and David Calvitto


Best of the Adelaide Fringe, 2004
Scotsman First of the Fringe Firsts, 2002
Scotsman Fringe First, 2002
Herald Angel (Director, John Clancy), 2002
The Stage Best Actor (David Calvitto), 2002


Productions & Touring
Monkey Wrench Theater, New York, 1997
The Present Company, New York, 1999
Amaryllis Theatre Company, Philadelphia, 2001
Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, 2002
Alchymia Theatre Company, Chicago, 2002
Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, 2003
United Kingdom Tour, 2003
Brighton Festival, 2003
Riverside Studios, London, 2003
The Du Maurier World Stage Festival, Toronto, 2003
Adelaide Fringe Festival, 2004
Belvoir St. Theatre, Sydney, 2004
Noorderzon Festival, The Netherlands, 2004
Beyond the Proscenium Theatre, Sacramento, 2005
Needtheater, Los Angeles, 2006

This is just a mere sampling of what the Critics said:

Sometimes, the best shows come swerving at you when you least expect them … in seconds it becomes clear that we’re in the presence of a really substantial piece of theatre here; sharp, brilliant, intense, fast-moving, made for the moment we live in. At heart, Horse Country is a new Waiting for Godot set in contemporary America; the two speakers in CJ Hopkins’ text are off-duty ‘regular guys’, perhaps policemen, who have lost the nine of diamonds from their deck of cards, and therefore, for all their bluster, don’t know what to do next … [but] unlike Beckett’s characters, Bob and Sam belong to a particular country and time. Their task is to take us on a tour not of the human condition in general, but of the human condition as filtered through the presumptions and values of mainstream America today … And although their conversation ranges widely, from God, fishing and beggars to gambling and art, the rhetorical question is, “is this a great country, or isn’t it?” re-echoes like a chorus … And what emerges, over 70 minutes of rapid-fire dialogue, is a portrait of a culture caught in a strange and painful paradox between progressive and reactionary attitudes; of a deep nostalgia for a traditional world of “men with guns and women without clothes”, matched with an unquenchable human yearning towards the unexpected, the creative, the new. 


There aren’t many people left who actually saw vaudeville live. The cultural memory of its frenetic cross-talk floats to the surface now and again, as the Marx Brothers pop up on TV or someone raises the cry of “Who’s on first?”, and occasionally you even see its comic techniques resurrected in contemporary theatre. There, they are rare enough their seeming anarchy can befuddle an audience: One couple leaving Horse Countrylast night after its opening at World Stage Wednesday seemed to think they had just witnessed something without meaning. They couldn’t have been more wrong … With this remarkable duologue, the U.S. playwright C.J. Hopkins mimics the looping and loopy language of classic vaudeville but uses the schtick for a deeper purpose than simple entertainment. In this ironic spectacle in which entertainers cannot entertain themselves, Hopkins mounts a brilliant (and hilarious) critique of the emptiness of American life and the meaninglessness of the popular culture that attempts to fill the void … Toronto, a city that never suffers from a shortage of Broadway pap, needs to see more American theatre like this. Horse Country is also a very timely reminder that the United States is not always the single-minded monolith whose censorious jingoism has been plaguing us in recent weeks. Hopkins’ ability to look honestly into the black heart of existence is a true expression of free speech; his artfulness in fashioning a critique of culture from the ashes of popular entertainment is a true marker of civilization. **** TORONTO GLOBE AND MAIL

CJ Hopkins’s two-hander brings the spirit of Godot to America’s bars and puts the bourbon in Beckett. It feels like a serious piece of theatre rather than fringe fluff … brilliantly directed by John Clancy and acted with terrific flair and feel by Ben Scheider and David Calvitto.*.


To discuss producing Horse Country please visit C.J.Hopkins.



468 ad

1 Comment