Adam Luckey has been spending a lot of his evenings recently drinking heavily. Fortunately, he's only acting.
In fact, he's the lone actor in Balagula Theatre's season opener, Drinking in America by Eric Bogosian.
In the play Luckey will take the audience on a journey through a dozen hard-living characters who, in wildly different ways, are grappling with the American Dream.
Luckey has been a mainstay on Central Kentucky stages for more a decade, but he hasn't tackled the full-length, one-man show until now.
"I've done one-person monologues when I worked at the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History, but they were 30 minutes, maximum," Luckey says. "I've not added an hour to that. Yet."
Luckey has the formidable task of not only carrying a show by himself, but of treating Balagula audiences to their first experience in a new theater space. Balagula recently moved its theatrical productions from a theater next to Natasha's Bistro, where the theater grew steadily for many years, to the Farrish Theater at the downtown branch of the public library. The group also will produce some plays at the Downtown Arts Center.
"I'm excited to tackle some Bogosian. I've always liked his work," Luckey says of the playwright, whose play Talk Radio was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. "The challenge will be focus and stamina."
Portraying 12 characters in less than two hours is certainly a tall order, but Luckey began by working with director Jenny Christian to create the details of the characters he portrays.
"We spent a lot of time just reading," Christian says. "It was him reading to me and me listening and us talking about who each guy is and how they are different from one another and occasionally similar as well."
"A lot of these people you probably see on the streets in New York City or a hotel room in Vegas," Luckey says.
"Some are professionals reflecting on lives past and current, some are people who've fallen through the cracks of society but have made the best of the situation. Some are lost, know it, and don't care," Luckey says. "And some are caught in the grind of the capitalist machine."
Christian has had her eye on Bogosian's script since she first read it in the '90s.
"Despite this piece being about 20 years old, a lot of the same contemporary issues that these characters are dealing with are still very prevalent in our society today," says Christian, who described the show as something of a collage, with thematic layers of the individual characters' plight overlapping to form the big picture.
"Culturally, it examines or explores — I don't think it tries to answer anything — what is this thing we call the American Dream," says Christian, who recently completed a master's degree in in theatre directing from East 15 Acting School in London, England.
"What are the trappings of it, what are the ways people get lost in it, what are the ways people struggle with it?" Christian asks. "What does it really mean to have the American Dream?"