Category Archives: Announcements

Spooky Oasis

Today is Halloween and to celebrate all things spooky, I wanted to share this script of mine that was recently featured at an evening of live radio theatre!

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It’s a genre I’ve absolutely fallen in love with over the past couple of years, thanks no doubt to local groups such as the Mysterious Old Radio Listening Society and Conundrum Collective. Between them and some others, I try to lap up as much radio drama as possible and taking note of the technique’s specific to the format has posed an exciting challenge to say the least. One’s dialogue, for instance, has to be as specific as possible so as to accurately convey the scene your writing. Remember, there are no visuals! So if it being “sunny outside” is integral to the story, then make sure you have a character say something about the sun. It’s things like that that can trip you up and as I listen to my first recorded script, I realize I could have done a better job with…

Anyways, give a listen here! The Oasis starts at around the 14:00 minute mark.

Listening to this, I certainly took my notes for revisions, etc. but all that aside, I was just giddy listening to Small Fish Radio Theatre’s adaptation of The Oasis. Performed as one piece in a larger narrative, the story tells of a post-apocalyptic world where the inhabitants of a small desert outpost struggle to survive dehydration, marauding raiders and the fact that the sun’s rays are literally getting hotter and hotter by the minute. It’s an idea that’s gone through several revisions in my brain (first coming to mind as a stage play in the winter of 2016 and now finally, a realized radio play).

Now I can’t wait to churn out all the ideas I’ve got and see who’s willing to produce them. That goes for myself too. Radio drama has been seeing a bit of a renaissance lately thanks to the popularity of podcasts and I’d love to take a crack at something longer than 10 minutes. Whole serials! Half hour programming! Advertising!

OK, slow down than there cowboy. First write another and take it from there.

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The Year of Women and Frankensteins

Well, it’s October again and just as with the past two Halloween seasons, my play Frankenstein lives again!

This time around, the show is being produced by River Company, a troupe who not only knows how to stage plays, but also design one really stellar Franken-bird.

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The genesis of the project started with a dear colleague of mine, Allison Eddyblouin (as seen in Heartwood’s Our Town), approaching me about production. What caught her eye about my adaptation, was the central focus of the Elizabeth character, and how well it would fit into the season theme of “Year of Women”. Not to mention, it happens to be 200 years since Mary Shelley published the famous tale. With all that, I’m happy and honored that my own version as found yet another incarnation three years running.

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Frankenstein from the Hampstead Stage Co. Dir. by Jay Pastucha. 

Therefore, if you happen to be in coastal Maine this October and are in the mood for a classic spooky tale, featuring a strong female character, I’d highly recommend! Torie DeLisle directs and more info can be found here: http://www.skidompha.org/event/river-company-production-trifles-frankenstein/2018-10-20/

 

“Let’s Play Two!” – William Shakespeare

Lots of news to report since my trek through rural Minnesota playing City Mouse during the summer… in July… now it’s October… and most definitely fall!

So what change does the season have in store for me? To start, I’m in two rehearsals for Measure for Measure and Women Beware Women, two Jacobean classics running in rep, presented by Classical Actors Ensemble. Diane Mountford directs the former, more familiar title while Joseph Papke is helming the lesser-known, but no-less dynamic Women, written by Thomas Middleton.

CAEAs for myself, I have the honor and joy to play two wildly contrasting characters – that lying scoundrel, Lucio (Measure) and the hapless, rebellious young lover Leantio (in Women). They’re both so rich in motivations and relationships with others, that I’m really relishing the chance to sink my teeth into ‘em.

Measure for Measure, for instance, has long been one of my favorite Shakespeare plays ever since I performed the famous Claudio/Isabella scene in college. While traditionally listed among the comedies, the show is now more thought of as a “problem” play. For while it may end in (several) marriages, those unions stand in hard contrast to the overwhelming themes of sexual politics, abuse of powers and the general moral degradation of a society.

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Nonetheless, there is hilarity that ensues, mostly around a group of bawds, punks and mistresses –  a group to whom Lucio counts himself among. Often described as a rogue and a scoundrel, he’s always quick with a sexual pun and never shy to boast of his conquests. However, there is a heart of gold under that scurvy disposition, and we see this more noble side when he’s working to free his buddy, Claudio, from the misguided chains of imprisonment. I know, I know, still pretty heavy… but I promise it’s a good blend of both comedy and drama. You know, like a dark comedy.

But I get it. If this holiday season you’re looking for something a little more dark and twisted then Women Beware Women is the show for you. I play a young, lowly Florentine named Leantio who’s fallen in love with a rich Venetian girl named Bianca. Naturally, I steal her away to Florence and promptly lock her up in a tower so no other man may ever look upon her.

Just when you think it’s going right.

What follows then is a story about the perils of sexual abuse, power and good ol’ fashioned revenge killings. Aaahhh, there’s the tragedy we were looking for in Measure!

Q: Sounds good. But it’s not Shakespeare?
A: Nope. Believe it or not, but Shakespeare wasn’t the only guy writing plays back then. Just like in our own world, there were lots of playwrights churning out work. Thomas Middleton happens to be one of the few who remains popular into our 21st century.
Q: But not as popular as Shakespeare, right?
A: I mean, no… but he sounds a lot like Shakespeare and he’s pretty good in his own right!

So there you have it folks. Measure for Measure and Women Beware Women coming soon, featuring some super talented women and men in both casts. Full information can be found below, as well as at classicalactorsensemble.org.

Classical Actors Ensemble presents

Women Beware Women
by Thomas Middleton
directed by Joseph Papke

and

Measure For Measure
by William Shakespeare
directed by Diane Mountford

Playing in alternating repertory
November 30 – December 23, 2018

7:30pm Thursdays – Saturdays, and 2:00pm Sundays
Pay-What-You-Can Performances on
Mondays, December 10th & 17

Performing at the Gremlin Theater
550 Vandalia Street, St. Paul, MN 55114

Tickets: $18 – 42

Featuring
Tom Conry*
Timothy Daly*
Samantha Fairchild
Lolly Foy*
Eva Gemlo
Jackson Gray
Vincent Hannam
Jacob Hooper
Hugh Kirsch
Charles Numrich
Samantha V. Papke*
Tristen Sima
Tyler Stamm
Daniel Kristian Vopava*
Madeline Wall
Joe Wiener*

Tech/Design work from
Chava Curland
Lolly Foy*
André Johnson Jr*
Kaija Pellinen
Dietrich Poppen*
David P. Schneider
Miranda Shunkwiler*

* denotes CAE Core Artist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Climbing Through the Mouse Hole

“On the road again… I just can’t wait to get on the road again…”

It’s finally happened. I’m doing it and couldn’t be more eager for the sense of adventure and romanticism that lays in store for the next two weeks, as I inhabit that mythical role of the traveling performer. 

And the show? The age-old tale of “Country Mouse, City Mouse” presented as Country Mouse & City Mouse: The Mousical by Grace Weiner and Nikki Tuttle. CLIMB Theatre is the producing company and is based in the Twin Cities. This production, however, is being toured throughout northern Minnesota in a region called the “Arrowhead”. Peppered by lakes and small towns, the region is also known as the Iron Range, thanks to it’s rich mining history. This is a part of the state that is mostly rural and happy to experience events such as plays and music.

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I always say that one of the reasons I make my home as an artist in Minnesota is because of the culture of art that the state actively cultivates. This is thanks, in large part to the Clean Water, Land & Legacy Amendment, that voters passed in 2008.

This in turn allows local libraries in small country towns to afford plays like the one I’m touring now. Parents enjoy it, sure, but the children are obviously the target audience and it’s inspiring to see their little faces light up and learn a lesson or two about acceptance and self-care.

I’m two days in right now and yeah, I’m ready to hit the hay after long hours but it neat to know that exhaustion of the road. Packing in, packing out, swilling gas station coffee and eating cheap hamburgers… like a real traveling actor! Or maybe like a traveling actor circa 1920… regardless, I’m going to fancy myself the regular vaudevillian in the coming weeks.

 

 

 

Tikkun Olam this June

This month I have the pleasure to be working on a special little show called, Save a Child’s Heart, that is being presented by the Harmony Theatre Company & School in Minneapolis. It is written by Laura Burroughs, Elena Khalitov, and Matt Saxe. Khalitov is also the founder of the company while Saxe directed the piece.

An original play based on true stories from an Israeli humanitarian organization that provides free life-saving heart surgery for children worldwide.

But what exactly is Save a Child’s Heart; both the organization and the play?

Our story follows a seven year old girl named Maria who suffers from a congenital heart disease known as VSD. In layman’s terms it means she has a “hole in her heart”, which is a surprisingly common ailment of newborns and young children. Fortunately, Save a Child’s Heart (SACH) specializes in curing just this problem and have been doing so since 1995. The best part, however, is that the non-profit hospital reaches out to underdeveloped nations and strives to help all children regardless of their ethnic or religious background. Yes, this even includes all the Arab neighbors of Israel. There is no discrimination and in the play we see young Maria makes friends with a Palestinian girl suffering the same illness.

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As for myself, I get to play the young volunteer who looks after the kids in the children’s home and imparts my knowledge of “Tikkun Olam”, a central tenet of the Jewish faith that means “to fix the world”. It’s a philosophy I was unaware of before joining the production, and holds that all humans ought to continually strive to make the world a better place. Whether that’s volunteering at a place like SACH or simply picking up garbage on the street, we all must do our best to restore the world to God’s original perfection.

It’s a high bar and as we know, humans ain’t perfect. Nonetheless, in times of stress and trouble why shouldn’t we hold ourselves to a higher standard? We all belong to the same earth, after all, so despite our surface differences we really are one human race. Save a Child’s Heart drives home this idea through the lens of children and hopefully the adults in the room can follow suit.

Save a Child’s Heart plays:
June 21 @ 7 pm (University of Minnesota)
June 24 @ 4 pm (University of Minnesota)
September 6 @ 7 pm (Wellstone Center)

And features:
Vincent Hannam
Hannah Shteyman
Dinah Hunegs
Chana Lyubeznik
Alice Khalitov
Esther Khalitov
Jeffry Nordin
Christine Nordin
Sarah Cumes
Liz Swabey-Keith
Ellen Apel
Matt Saxe
and
Tigger, the Orange Tabby as Tikki, the Cat

 

What’s Bloomin’ this Spring?

Two years after I ended my first run on the Heartwood boards, I find myself back in coastal Maine performing in a staged reading of Bloomsday by Steven Dietz.

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Directed by Griff Braley and featuring the talents of Deirdre Manning, Mary Fraser and Cliff Blake, this is a play that… well, it’s a bit trippy to explain, but it’s a play that examines the choices we make and whether or not it’s truly possible to go back and alter our timelines. Fate is a huge theme, and yes there’s a fair bit of “time traveling”, but what makes it so effective to me is that it’s really about the crushing hope of that first love.

Oh, and it is set in Dublin and uses James Joyce’s novel Ulysses as the lens through which to view the story. Characters quote the novel, reference is a hundred times, and though I’ve never read Ulysses I have to imagine Steven Dietz has modeled his characters off of Joyce’s. The date in the play is even June 16, which if you happen to be an English lit nerd, is the date in which the action of Ulysses take place.

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After the novel became a smash, that date has become known as “Bloomsday” and has become a giant festival celebrating Joyce and his exaltation of Ireland and the city of Dublin. (The name comes from the central characters of the book – Leo and Molly Bloom). While you can find parades all over the world, it’s the one in Dublin that is the biggest and where folks dress up in Edwardian clothing and walk the same route that Leo Bloom does in the novel, ducking in and out of shops and pubs.

Sounds right up my alley and while I am aware that Ulysses is a “doorstop of a book”, I’d like to take a crack at it. This play, Bloomsday, has enlightened me to what is often hailed at the greatest novel of the 20th century; quite the reputation! For now, however, I will be content and privileged to read/perform this intimate (and yet heavy) little play.

Previously the only character I knew as Leo Bloom. Apparently not a coincidence.

 

 

 

 

Mr. Hannam Goes to St. Paul

The life of a theatre artist is certainly one of constant activity and at times can be a little unpredictable. One day you’re sitting in your studio, eager to finally finish the novel you’ve been chipping away at and the next you see a production call needing some stage hands. Hmm… I haven’t done that kind of work since college… hmm, but it is a company I know and directors I respect… hmm… let’s do it!

And that’s just how I got involved with Our House: The Capitol Play Project by Alan Berks and Leah Cooper, from Wonderlust Productions!

Described as such:

When a wild card new Governor is elected, the regular order on the state Capitol campus is thrown into chaos. While a chorus of activists, legislators, lobbyists, civil servants, and tour guides attempt to get their way, an idealistic new employee finds herself at the center of an unexpected controversy. Misunderstandings and mistaken identity lead to a crash course in the realities that both constrain and inspire the men and women who have devoted themselves to public service (inside a building brimming with idealism, cynicism, absurdity, significance, and power, plus more than a few old ghosts who have something to say).

Being a part of the project has not only flexed my tiny and withered production-muscles, but really has been an incredible crash course in Minnesota political history and civics. As a newly-minted citizen of the state, I must admit I have zero idea about any of that stuff. In fact, before this show, I had only been to the capitol building once and that was to seek refuge in the cold after the car I was in broke down!

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For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of visiting, I would urge you to as soon as possible. Completed in 1905, the building just underwent a major restoration and is literally shining in beautiful granite, marble and gold. Once inside the building, you’re treated to vast halls with enough portraits and statues to fill any weekend and then for all you architect nerds out there, the building was designed by Cass Gilbert who also designed the U.S. Supreme Court and the Woolworth Building. It just so happens to be the second largest self-supported marble dome in the entire world, after St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

Interested yet? Good. Now know that since it does pride itself as being “the people’s house”, visitors are free to come and go as they please throughout the building (save for such rooms as the Senate and House chambers, of course).

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The rotunda of the building. There happens to be a lot of honor paid to Minnesota’s role in the Civil War – photo by Dave Wilson.

When I decided to get involved in The Capitol Play Project, I didn’t really know what to expect. Now I’ve spent so much time in the capitol that I can’t help but be continually inspired by the quotes on the walls or the sheer grandeur of the construction. Not that I necessarily want to enter the political arena, but it does fuel my interest in being a voice for change in my community, either through activism or simply voting and making my representatives aware of my presence. That’s what the State Capitol building stands for and that’s what The Capitol Play Project brings to life so passionately.

We only run one more weekend, but for more info check it out here.