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Where We Were, Where We Are: New Ground Theatre and Quad Citians Affirming Diversity Go "Under the Radar," May 19 through 29 at the Village Theatre PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Thursday, 05 May 2011 06:00

Johanna Welzenbach-Hilliard and Donna Weeks rehearse Under the RadarFor the final production in her company’s 10th-anniversary season, New Ground Theatre Artistic Director Chris Jansen chose to direct a rather epic piece: the debuting period drama Under the Radar, which features numerous plotlines and changes of locale, and concerns our area’s gay scene in the late 1970s, with particular attention paid to the relationship of one long-term gay couple.

Based on that description, it sounds as though Jansen is tackling a Quad Cities-based, pre-AIDS version of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America. Yet when, with a good-natured laugh, she says of the mammoth undertaking, “Some idiot wrote 11 characters into it,” know that Jansen isn’t being derogatory. At least, not toward anyone but herself.

Talking Outside the 'box: Kim Furness Discusses the Curtainbox's 10-Year History PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 05 April 2011 10:35

Kimberly Furness[Author's note: The following was written for, the Web site for our area's Curtainbox Theatre Company, of which I've been a proud member for nearly a year.]


Recently, Curtainbox Theatre Company founder Kim Furness and I sat down over a glass of wine – all right, maybe a couple of glasses – to celebrate her company's 10-year anniversary. She had recently taken over the directing position for the Curtainbox's latest production, Speed-the-Plow (in the wake of original helmer Philip W. McKinley’s recruitment as new director of Broadway’s Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark), and during our conversation, was happy to share her thoughts on the company’s history. (The David Mamet comedy Speed-the-Plow – featuring Erin Churchill, Dan Hernandez, and myself – runs at the Village of East Davenport’s Village Theatre from April 10 through 23, with preview performances April 8 & 9.)

A Third Space in the World: Arlene Malinowski Creates a Bridge Between the Deaf and the Hearing, April 9 at Augustana College PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Friday, 25 March 2011 06:00

Arlene MalinowskiNearly everyone who was of TV-viewing age in 1963, it seems, remembers where they were on the day President John F. Kennedy was shot. For writer/performer/instructor Arlene Malinowski, that day is especially memorable, because as she recalls, it was one of the first times that this hearing child of Deaf parents had to act as her parents’ translator.

“I’m six, I’m in the first grade,” says the Chicago-based Malinowski, “and I remember coming home from school, and they’re in a dark living room watching the television, and they’re crying. And my father says, ‘Tell me what’s on the TV,’ and my mother says to my father, ‘No, no, no, leave her alone – she’s a kid.’ But I’m like, ‘No, I can do this!’

“So I’m listening,” she continues, “and the man on TV is using a lot of big words. Words I don’t understand, like ‘assassinate’ and ‘motorcade’ and ‘depository.’ I figured out that ‘assassinate’ was ‘killed,’ but I couldn’t figure out what ‘depository’ meant. And then I remembered that Daddy deposits money into the bank, so it must mean ‘the bank.’ So I told my father, ‘The president man has been shot, he’s dead in his car, and a bank robber killed him.’

“And here’s the coda to it: They never [definitively] figured out who shot the president. So I am not necessarily wrong.”

True Academic Theatre: St. Ambrose Explores a National Tragedy in "Columbinus," February 18 through 20 PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Wednesday, 09 February 2011 12:27

Anthony Stratton, Nick Jensen, Kayla Jackson, Andrew Bradford, Michael Kline, and Keaton Connell in ColumbinusFor his first directorial effort at St. Ambrose University, Daniel Rairdin-Hale in April staged the ancient-Greek tragedy Oedipus Rex. This month, however, finds the school’s assistant professor of theatre tackling a tragedy that hits much closer to home.

“I remember where I was when Columbine happened,” says Rairdin-Hale, referring, of course, to the April 1999 massacre at Colorado’s Columbine High School. “It was right between my junior and senior year [at Pleasant Valley High School]. So I got to experience how everything changed. My first three years of high school were one way, and then this happened, and in senior year, everything was different. You couldn’t have backpacks, doors were locked, you couldn’t leave the building, we had bomb drills ... . It was very strange to be there during that transition.

“I mean, I’m sure there are things that high schools do now,” he continues, “where students just assume, ‘This is how it’s always been.’ You know, cameras, metal detectors – whatever. But there was a time before that.”

Curtain Call: Mike Schulz and Thom White Discuss Area Theatre in 2010 PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Monday, 20 December 2010 06:00

Joseph Obleton, Fred Harris, Jr., Renaud Haymon, Reggie Jarrell, and Shanna Cramer in the Playcrafters Barn Theatre's FencesAs we’ve come to annually expect, there was practically no end to the highlights from this past year in area theatre.

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