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2010/11 Season

Love’s Labors Lost

Director Sara Freeman

Scenic Design by Jarvis Jahner

Costumes by Anie Smith

Lighting Design by Frani Geiger

Technical Direction by Janet Rose

Sound and Video Design by Brian Cook

Cast: King of Navarre: SAM GREENSPAN , Berowne: JOHN JEFFREY, Longaville: BRIAN BUTTERFIELD,  Dumaine: COLIN LAWRENCE, Princess: SONYA DAVIS, Rosaline: KATIE PELISSIER, Maria: STEPHANIE MORGAN, Katharine: HANNAH QUIGG, Boyet: VIRGINIA RICE, Attendant: MEGAN MATTHEWS, Attendant: HALEY HOFELD, Costard: MARTIN DIAZ-VALDES, Dull: RYAN DOUGHERTY, Jaquenetta: KATHLEEN LEARY, Armado: CHARLIE VAN DUYN, Mote: TIM VERGANO, Holofernes: CAITLIN WINKENBACH, Nathaniel: EVAN MARSHALL

Director’s Notes:

Though there is uncertainty about its exact dates of writing, Love’s Labors Lost first saw printing in 1598. The play admirably suits an age where the courtship of a queen was a constant concern for the whole social order. But I have imagined the play set in the period just before the start of World War I for quite a while, largely because of reading, during my own college years, Vera Brittain’s beautiful memoir Testament of Youth about her time as a student just before the war, her service as a nurse during the war, and how her fiancé’s death in the war redefined her life. This book rendered vivid for me the experience of an entire generation of young men and young women, leading joyful, complex, and rather privileged lives who then lived through a cataclysm. Brittain’s narrative about how sometimes things are rent asunder that cannot be put back together again has stayed with me ever since. Love’s Labors Lost’s inherent exploration of the competing claims of love and duty heightens with a 1914 setting in a way that excited the production team and me. The play catches witty young men and women at the intersection of personal discovery and complex developments in the social and political world and this time setting also captures that dynamic: there’s all the foolishness of college men taking a vow to study more and quit getting distracted by girls, there’s all the joy and merry-making of an aristocratic Edwardian country weekend, and there’s the way that we all live in history where events play out bigger than us.

Indeed, because I work at a university, I spend a lot of time with young men and young women figuring out how to balance courtship and study. This might sound sweet and light compared to the burdens of adulthood, except that it isn’t. I watch and I relate to how serious my students are about figuring out how to make those “world without end” bargains that the Princess temporarily refuses at the end of Love’s Labors Lost. My interest in staging Love’s Labors Lost stems from my adoration of Shakespeare’s effervescent concatenation — its language, its humor, and its startlingly honest final turn that complicates comic conventions — and also from my interest in the way it speaks to a process of maturation and decision-making, which I am not sure any of us are ever done with, world without end bargain or not.

–Sara Freeman

 

Rock ‘n’ Roll

By Tom Stoppard

Directed by Joseph Gilg

Scenic Design by Jerry S. Hooker

Costumes by Alexandra B. Bonds

Lighting Design and Technical Direction by Janet Rose

Sound Design by Michael Beardsworth

Cast: the Piper/Milan/the Waiter: KYLE WALLACE, Esme (act I)/Alice: EMILIE MATRZ, Jan: DYLAN GUTRIDGE, Max: RUSSELL DYBALL, Eleanor/Esme (act II): SOPHIE ELEANOR KRUIP, Gillian/Deidre: LIV BURNS, Interrogator/Policeman/Stephen: JEFFREY LAROCQUE, Ferdinand: KYLE LEIBOVITCH, Magda: SARA SEBASTIAN, Lenka: MAGGIE MAY STABILE, Candida: SHANNON MCINALLY

Director’s Notes:

In 1987 my cousin from Nebraska re-established contact with a branch

of our family that we hadn’t heard from in years who were still living in the “old country”- Czechoslovakia. We knew very little about them and even less about that country. It was part of the Soviet bloc, located behind the Iron Curtain; there was very little news about those countries and even less travel access. After the fall of Communism and the opening of the borders several of us have been to visit with that branch of the family and many of them have traveled to the United States to visit, study and work. It is still rather exotic for us to have foreign relatives.

In all these years I have never had a conversation with any of them about what life was like with the Soviets in charge. I suspect that they do not want to go there and I would not presume to ask.

Working on Tom Stoppard’s Rock ‘n’ Roll I feel like I have a window into that world and have gained a greater understanding of that life and those times for the ordinary citizens- for my family. I remember one of them about my age mentioning that he was in a rock band when he was young and my thought was “Weren’t we all”. I had no idea that being in a rock band was a subversive activity in his country. Before the Velvet Revolution most of my “cousins” were assigned work in factories and businesses and had no stake in the growth and success of those enterprises. After the Velvet Revolution each of them struck out on their own and became very successful business people. I am sure my “cousins” would agree with Jan when he says “Life has become amazing.”

So my work on this play has been a gift of understanding for me about my roots and my heritage. I am, along with the cast and production team of Rock ‘n’ Roll, excited about passing this gift on to you.

–Joseph Gilg

 

bobrauschenbergamerica

by Charles Mee

Directed by John Schmor

Director John Schmor

Costumes by Anie Smith

Lighting Design and Technical Direction by Janet Rose

Sound Design by Ryan Rusby

Cast: Woman in Blue with Cane:  MAGGIE CORONA-GOLDSTEIN, Woman in Orange with Pipes:  SHENEA DAVIS, Bob’s Mom:  BRITTANY DORRIS, Susan:  KELSEY MCKEAN, Phil’s Girl:  LACY ALLEN, Girl on Rollerskates:  OLIVIA WALTON, Becker:  RILEY SHANAHAN, Phil:  DILLON PILORGET, Allen:  JONATHAN JAMES, Carl:  SUNIL HOMES, Wilson:  JOSH LANGE, Delivery Boy:  CHRIS DANIELS

Director’s Notes:

I wonder if part of what it means to be “American” is to be constantly wondering what it means to be “American.”  And I wonder if at the core is a historical feeling that some “other America” is lost?  In our arts and histories we have a peculiar emphasis on what is lost to us, usually in the Odyssean tradition of nostalgia, yearning for, journeying, home.  In our case, a “home” that perhaps never was. Not quite anyway.  I do remember, like Becker, being allowed as a child to play with girls and boys in the woods all day – our parents were not fueled by the fear that seems both appropriate to our times and sadly a measure of something lost.

Robert Rauschenberg is an artist who buoyantly collects cultural detritus from a lost “America” and remakes their relation to our experience into a message Paul Eluard promised:  “There is another world.  And it is in this one.”  This play by Charles Mee is not coherent in the conventional sense of a “play” – perhaps in the same way we are not “American” in any coherent “America.”   I doubt a coherent America exists –  except in wondering, striving, resisting, re-making.  With threads of both violence and frivolity, both history and amnesia, Rauschenberg’s “America” is a movement of frictional wonders, not a place or a time.

–John Schmor

 

Playhouse Creatures

By April De Angelis

Directed by Brian Cook

Scenic Design by Frani Geiger

Lighting Design and Technical Direction by Janet Rose

Sound Design by The Company

Cast: Doll Common: JENNIFER BALESTRACCI, Nell Gwyn: JESSELYN PARKS, Mrs. Farley: KATELYN ELIAS, The Earl of Rochester: PHILIP MORTON, Thomas Otway: KARL METZ, Mrs. Marshall: EVYLYN BROWN, Mrs. Betterton: VIRGINIA RICE, Mrs. Barry: MEGAN MATTHEWS

Director’s Notes: In 1660, Charles II was restored to the English throne, ushering in an era of licentiousness and theatricality.   After years of civil war and Puritan administration, everyone was ready to have a little fun.  The Puritans had outlawed anything they viewed as barriers to worship, including the theatre, and Charles was quickly persuaded to grant two letters patent allowing the theatres to reopen.  With the theatre came the debut of the actress in England, at first in competition with boy actors for female roles.  In 1662, Charles decreed that only women should play women, in part because that’s what he liked to see and as a sop to the Puritans, who grudgingly accepted women on stage as long as the “unnatural” boys who dressed as women were outlawed.

Unquestionably, theatre allowed the early British actresses to express themselves in ways never before possible.  Their performances changed history, paving the way for successive generations of women to become actresses.  In the Restoration period, the stage impacted the way its audience understood the world as much as films, TV shows or advertisements do for an audience today.  Bringing women onto the stage to replace the boy actors was a tremendous step forward in representing “real life,” but at what cost?  It allowed women access, but, even after women like Aphra Behn began writing plays, it didn’t much alter how women were viewed and understood by the audience.  As Mrs. Marshall says late in the play, “[I’m] free.  To play a faithful wife or an unfaithful one.  A whore, a mistress.  Where’s the freedom in that?”

As we worked on Playhouse Creatures, we were constantly struck by the many themes in the play that have relevance to our present-day profession.  As the tides change in the course of the play and we see each actress’s fame rise and fall, we are asked to think about the question of fame, the question of who has “It”.  Fame is transitory, and those who are famous one minute will often be outshone in the next by another actress with something “more,” something “new” to offer.  There is always a new “it-girl” waiting in the wings.  Then and now, youth and novelty reign supreme.

For those cast aside, though, the dream does not die.  We might use the term “all washed up” to refer to these women’s lost careers, but, for each of them, the end is far from clean.  In the play, we see the aftermath.  As Mrs. Betterton says after her time in front of the footlights passes, “I knew that [by becoming an actor] I had done a terrible thing and that nothing would ever be the same for me again.  I had tasted a forbidden fruit and its poisons had sunk deep into my soul. … I never forgot that feeling.  The poison’s still in my blood.  Like a longing.  A longing.”

In Playhouse Creatures, the characters’ “follies supply the stage.”  Regardless of the pressures on them from the outside, these women demonstrated that they had dreams, desires, and the willingness to muscle their way to the top of this new profession.  Their successes and failures, their highs and lows, their joys and their sorrows are all featured here for you to witness.  We hope you find them as fascinating to watch as we have to explore.

–Brian Cook

 

Salmon is Everything

Directed by Theresa May

Director’s Notes: In September 2002 an estimated 70, 000 salmon died on the banks of the Lower Klamath River.  At the time I was assistant professor at Humboldt State University, located about 40 minutes south of the mouth of the Klamath, on California’s north coast. The fish kill, as locals called the event, impacted Native fisheries, as well as commercial fishing, in ways that are still being studied. For Native people, the loss of the salmon signified an ongoing loss of traditional cultural ways of life.

As a theatre artist with some faith in the vital role of the arts in democratic processes, I found myself asking, “what can theatre do?” After many discussions with Native colleagues in our Indian Teacher Education, and Native Studies programs, the Klamath Theatre Project emerged. Over two years I worked with Native students, staff and faculty, and many community members, to write a play about the events of 2002, in particular to express the experiences and viewpoints of Native people who share a unique relationship with the salmon. This play was developed from interviews with Lower Klamath tribal members, as well as reflective and creative writing done by myself and my students. Additional research and stakeholder meeting transcripts allowed us to weave in the voices of Upper Klamath tribes, ranchers, and other constituents of the Klamath watershed. Over two years, we read various versions of script at community meetings and then listened to and gathered suggestions from the community for how to develop the play further. The final script, Salmon Is Everything (the title taken from an elder’s description of the salmon’s central place) premiered in spring 2006, performed by a cast of twelve Native and five non-Native members (like the cast you see tonight, many had never acted before).

What had been contentious and impossible in mediation rooms and courtrooms became possible in the theatre.  In the community discussions held after every performance, an audience of the real-world counterparts of the fictional characters found themselves listening to one another’s stories. Elders remarked that the play spoke about their experience and in the manner of traditional storytelling, and young people said, “this is the only way we’re going to solve these issues, by listening to one another’s stories; not through governments and lawyers, but through people.”

Over time a play changes position, moving from a documentation of current events to a record of collective memory. Community dialogue and policy assessment is ongoing in the Klamath watershed, but he fish kill of 2002 marks a turning point that has lead to serious consideration of dam removal, and the significance of salmon populations to indigenous ways of life. When that play is re-staged, it allows the past to live with, and participate in, the critical present. Salmon Is Everything now serves to locate the fish kill of 2002 as a turning point in the politics of the watershed, to mark and call attention to the grief experienced by members of the Lower Klamath tribal communities, and to illuminate the current and ongoing debates about dam removal, species preservation, indigenous rights, and the sustainable use of resources.

The story of the 2002 fish kill is part of a larger story, and a larger healing. The Klamath Theatre Project and the process of developing Salmon Is Everything provides a model for the ways in which theatre can give voice to collective memory and contribute to healing historical trauma.

In the theatre, empathy is a way of knowing. The empathy that may emerge from participating in or witnessing a community-based performance can lead to deeper, more complex understandings, form new relationships across difference, and lay the groundwork for socially responsible action.

–Theresa May



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