As we collectively enter a new year, Davenport's QC Theatre Workshop is ringing in 2014 with a trio of exciting events: an area premiere by guest artists from Iowa City; auditions for this spring's production of a recent Tony Award winner; and the opening of the latest show in the Workshop's 2013-14 season – the lead casting for which will be determined by the flip of a coin.
On Friday, January 17, and Saturday, January 18, the Workshop will present 7:30 p.m. performances of the debuting drama My Sister, written by University of Iowa Adjunct Professor Janet Schlapkohl. Moving between an apartment and a cabaret in 1934 Berlin, this 90-minute original work tells the story of twin sisters (played by Elizabeth & Emily Hinckler of Iowa City) trying to survive and realize their dreams as the world collapses around them, and explores perceptions of disability played against the backdrop of history.
Directed by Maria Vorhis, an Artistic Associate with Iowa City's renowned Working Group Theatre, the two-character My Sister is a passion project for author Schlapkohl, who earned a 2012 MFA in Playwriting from the University of Iowa, and is the founder of Combined Efforts Theatre – a non-profit organization purposefully inclusive of actors with disabilities. The QC Theatre Workshop's Artistic Director, Tyson Danner, says he's delighted for the chance to co-present this debuting work to local audiences.
“There is nothing more thrilling than helping to bring a new script into the world,” states Danner. “The response to our first world premiere, last summer's A Green River, was beyond our wildest dreams, and that kind of support is enabling us to seek out many other original works to produce right here in the Quad Cities. It's our hope that these debuting plays will continue to find success long past their Workshop productions, as we saw with Augustana College's December presentation of A Green River.”
On Saturday, January 25 at 1 p.m., the Workshop will host auditions for the company's springtime presentation of Venus in Fur, David Ives' erotic comedy that was Tony-nominated for Best Play in 2011, and earned star Nina Arianda the Tony for Best Actress in a Play. A hilarious and mysterious tale of role reversal, power shifts, and sexual gamesmanship, Ives' juicy two-character tale was a critical and commercial smash, and the Workshop's production of the show will require one woman who can play early- to mid-20s, and one man who can play 20s to 30s. Those auditioning should prepare a monologue of two minutes or fewer and be prepared to read from the script.
“Dynamism, power, and sexiness of Venus in Fur's kind are rarely seen on stage,” says Danner, who will direct the May production. “It's safe to say that even the most avid theatre fans have seen nothing like it.”
And the Workshop's winter wraps up with Sam Shepard's modern classic True West, a dramatic comedy about contentious brothers and elusive identity running February 21 through March 9. (Performances will be held Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., and Sundays at 3 p.m.) With widely respected area-theatre veterans Jason Platt and Angela Rathman featured in its cast, True West will star Jeremy Mahr and Mike Schulz as warring siblings Austin and Lee, and in a unique twist, the central casting will be determined mere minutes before each performance, with an audience member flipping a coin to see which actor plays which role.
“Not only are we presenting audiences with this incredible play,” says True West director Danner, “but we're essentially presenting two different versions of the play. We're hoping that audiences have as much fun seeing the different takes on True West as we are working on them.”
As with the Workshop's previous productions, all its 2014 shows will be presented under “Pay What It's Worth” ticket pricing that finds patrons seeing the play first and paying on their way out, a policy that allows viewers to determine what the experience was worth to them personally, and that allows a wholly accessible theatrical experience for patrons regardless of financial means.
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My Sister performance schedule
Friday, January 17, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, January 18, 7:30 p.m.
Venus In Fur auditions
Saturday, January 25, 1 p.m.
True West performance schedule
Friday, February 21, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, February 22, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, February 23, 3 p.m.
Friday, February 28, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 1, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, March 2, 3 p.m.
Friday, March 7, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 8, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, March, 3 p.m.