By Pamela Dozois

Contributing Writer


Gerald DiPego is once again bringing his skillful writing to the stage in his new production titled “Imagine That!” starring The Laketown Players.

The evening will be made up of two one-act plays and “A letter to my younger self.”

A younger Jerry DiPego is pictured with his mother and their dog Belvedere in the yard of their home in Round Lake, Ill.

This is all new material by the screenwriter, novelist and playwright who has written nearly a dozen theatrical performances over the 10 years he has lived in the valley. One of his plays went on to be performed in Santa Barbara and another in Napa Valley. He is also the author of the films “Phenomenon,” “Message in a Bottle,” “Words & Pictures,” and many others.

The Laketown Players consist of DiPego and seasoned actors Fran Bowen, Ian Cummings, Eleanor Lin, Carey McKinnon, Jeff McKinnon, Christopher Rydman, and KC Thompson.

New to the theater company this year are five more actors.

Derrick O’Connor is an actor and writer who has worked in films, TV and theater and was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Greg Peraskou is the former Chief Public Defender for Santa Barbara County; Clare Carey has acted in four television series over the years; Ron Colone is a local author, columnist, and music promoter; and Reed Wolfington is a recent transplant to the valley who has performed in theater in Ohio.

The evening will begin with “A letter to my younger self,” a 20-minute reading by DiPego.

“The inspiration for this letter came when I was looking at family photos, looking at this child who was between seven and eight, and I was amazed it was me. I thought, ‘What would I say to him to help him avoid something that has happened to me?’” DiPego said.

DiPego, at far right, beams as one of his favorite uncles, Tony, does a Bogart imitation.

The opening paragraph of the letter reads, “I study an old photo of a boy who is between seven and eight, posing in his back yard at 911 Idyllwild Drive in Round Lake, Illinois, around 1950. The boy is slightly smiling, but I see, also, a hint of worry in his eyes, and I want to ease the worry in that boy, who is me, writing this in 2018 at the age of seventy-six. We are both Jerry, or, as I still call myself, ‘Jer.’

“Through this letter, I’m going to speak to my younger self as if I were there with him, maybe bending over, with my hands on my knees, so I can look into his eyes and tell him what I know, tell him what he needs to know so that his worry may be erased and his smile more full and certain.”

DiPego says the letter is done in the spirit of warmth and humor, though a little of it deals with heartache as well.

The first play of the evening, titled “The Time of Your Life,” is a thoughtful drama. After intermission, the second play, “Night Games,” is a comedy that asks, “Where does your mind go when you turn out the lights?”

This is a benefit performance for Loyaltech, which offers guidance for disadvantaged kids to help them get into college. The organization was created by Cummings.

“Imagine That” will be performed at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, May 18 and 19, at the Los Olivos Grange Hall, 2374 Alamo Pintado Ave. in Los Olivos.

Tickets are $15 at the door. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., with open seating. Ages 13 and older are suggested due to language content.