World premiere of new work by local playwright opens Thursday

Photo of installation by Tom Block on Kennett Street, courtesy Silver Spring Arts & Entertainment District, by Ken Stanek Photography.

Duck,” a play by local artist and playwright Tom Block, will have its world premiere with performances Thursday, Oct. 12 at The Highwood Theatre at 914 Silver Spring Ave.

Described by the Block as “a psychological thriller posing as an absurdist comedy,” Duck is a former CIA officer whose work has caused him to become unraveled and he can only communicate by quacking.

Duck was a statistician with the CIA, Block said, “and he didn’t know that as he built these probability calculuses for whether someone was a terrorist or not that there was a threshold and when you hit that threshold, that person would be killed.”

His description of the play reads, “the more Duck devotes himself to his clandestine work, the deeper becomes his internal sense of horror, with himself and the world.”

His homeless brother, who also was in the CIA but dropped out of the system, finds Duck on a park bench. He then takes Duck through scenes in his past life to explore how he got in the psychological state that he’s in now.

“There’s this whole kind of dialogue about what is certainty, what is obligation, what are the responsibilities of the individual,” Block said, with specific scenes from his life.

“There’s a lot of very strange moments because I treat this through absurdity and humor,” he said.

Block now splits his time between living in Silver Spring and New York City, where he also produces events, shows his work and puts on theater productions.

“It’s like a New York black box,” he said, describing the Silver Spring theater. “It’s almost exactly like the little spaces I work in New York, so to me, it’s very exciting.

“It might appear quite small and dark, but it’s kind of exactly what, at my level, you’re working in in New York, so it felt very familiar,” he added.

Some of his own paintings, which were funded by a grant from the Arts & Humanities Council of Montgomery County, will be part of the set.

Block has done other art projects in Silver Spring as well.

“I have a permanently installed piece of visual art across from Eastern Co-Housing,” he said. He also got the grant that funded the global culture mural on the side of Kefa Café. He also produced the Amnesty International Human Rights Art Festival here in 2010, and has had a number of art shows in the area.

“Duck” will run Oct. 12-29, 2017 at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with a matinee at 3 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $20 and available now.

An example of some of Block’s art work that will be part of the set, courtesy Tom Block.

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