A deserving artist

Burholme resident Scott Grumling is starring in ‘The Most Deserving,’ a play about politics, art and unfulfilled dreams.

On stage: To manipulate her husband’s vote, Jolean (Janet Wasser) first manipulates his back (Scott R. Grumling) in The Most Deserving. Source: Tom Ryan

There’s no objective way to measure art.

Artistic subjectivity doesn’t stop the characters in the play The Most Deserving from trying, though. In the play, the characters end up in a confrontation about which local artist should win a prize for their artwork.

Scott Grumling is well-aware everyone will view a piece of art differently, though.

“Two people could be side by side viewing a piece of work in a gallery, and one person may love it and other person may absolutely not like it,” said Grumling, a 10-year Burholme resident. “I think the artist has done their job if they move you to some sort of reaction.”

Grumling said he’s not well-versed in the world of sculpture and painting, but he’s a stage veteran. He moves between acting and directing local shows, having recently directed Rasheeda Speaking last year.

Now he’s taking to the stage to play a different kind of role. Grumling plays Ted, the neglected husband of Joleane, the head of the local arts council who views him as just another checkmark on her to-do list.

In the comedic play, a small Kansas town arts council is given $20,000 to award to a local artist they feel is the most deserving. The two candidates are a safe Bob Ross-type painter, and a sculptor who makes elaborate works out of trash.

Everyone in town has their own agenda for who should win, though, and Grumling’s Ted gets swept up in the middle of it. Life has deflated Ted — he had big dreams of being a national journalist, but instead writes art and obituaries for the local paper. The battle over the grant ends up giving him second wind, though not in the way many would expect.

Grumling was drawn to the character for the complete journey he makes throughout the play.

“A lot of his lines are very truthful that allow the deliveries to be very vulnerable and revealing,” he said. “I would say there’s a lot to really explore with the character, and it’s always satisfying as an actor to go on a journey from beginning to end and make a change along the way.”

Grumling and Ted are not entirely alike, though. For one — Ted has a British accent, which Grumling had previous experience working on with a linguistics coach.

Two, he’s satisfied with his artistic career.

“I’ve had a more fulfilling career than Ted because I haven’t let as many dreams go to the wayside,” he said with a laugh.

As the play progresses, the stakes get more personal to the characters. With a cast of just six actors, Grumling said the play thoroughly explores each of them and delivers a memorable, quirky cast.

Each character is also on the search for some kind of fulfillment, too, which Grumling said he is excited for audiences to see.

“There’s a lot in many of the characters that you can personally relate to,” he said. “It’s a very common experience and emotion to always be seeking something, whether it’s searching for fulfillment or the path to fulfillment.”

Since the play is about championing art, there will be real life tie-ins. Allens Lane Arts Center at 601 W. Allens Lane displays an art gallery as soon as you walk in that will be featuring work of local artist Colin Pizzano. In theme with the play, there will also be a contest where audiences can vote between paintings, sculptures and other art projects by local artists at the end of the show.

The play will run March 2, 3, 9, 10, 16 and 17 at 8 p.m. and March 4, 11 and 18 at 2 p.m. Tickets are available by calling 215–248–0546 or at allenslane.org. Tickets are $25 in advance or $30 at the door. ••