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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.

 
"Wrestling" Match: Director Scott Irelan Blends Modern Themes with Modern Tech in "Wrestling with Angels & Demons," October 15 through 24 at Augustana College PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 05 October 2010 06:00

Macy Marie Hernandez, Vicki Owoo-Battlet, and director Scott Irelan rehearse Wrestling with Angels & DemonsAugustana College opens its 2010-11 theatre season with the student/faculty collaboration Wrestling with Angels & Demons, and true to its title, the play will find its performers doing a fair share of wrestling. Yet rather than physical (or metaphysical) beings, the production’s student actors will actually be grappling with questions: What is democracy? What is the American Dream? And a question that many of us have contemplated this year: Is Rod Blagojevich really blacker than Barack Obama?

 
'Net Gain: The Internet Players Debut with Nathan Porteshawver's "The Tragedy of Sarah Klein," Opening September 16 PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Friday, 10 September 2010 06:00

Don Faust, Dawson Tucker, Regan Tucker, Alexa Florence, Andrew Cole, Bill Peiffer, and Ruby Nancy in The Tragedy of Sarah KleinIt’s doubtful anyone needs to be told that launching a new theatre company – particularly in an area already rife with theatre companies – can be a risky venture, which is likely why Quad Cities-based organizations have tended to debut with relatively low-risk offerings. In 2008, the Harrison Hilltop Theatre chose to stage, as its first production, David Auburn’s intimate, four-character drama Proof; a week later, the Curtainbox Theatre Company arrived on the scene with Three Viewings, a trio of Jeffrey Hatcher monologues.

And what is Davenport native Nathan Porteshawver, the founder of the Internet Players, presenting for his new theatre company’s debut offering? An original drama that Porteshawver himself wrote.

In verse.

With a cast of 17 actors.

And nine musicians.

 
Leap of Faith: Playcrafters Presents the Biblical Musical "Hard to Believe," Opening September 10 PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Monday, 30 August 2010 06:00

Megan Elliott, Linell Ferguson, Wendy Czekalski, Sara Laufer, and Kris Preston in Hard to Believe"I think Playcrafters has traditionally had the reputation of being a stodgy old theatre that only does six comedies a year," says Tom Morrow, a frequent actor and director for Moline's venerable Barn Theatre. "And admittedly, we do a lot of comedies. But every once in a while, we try to stick our necks out and do something else."

That they do. In addition to the titles produced in conjunction with Playcrafters' 2009 "Diversity Initiative" - Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun and August Wilson's Fences - other recent "something else"s have included 2005's Altar Call, a debuting, religiously themed drama written by local playwright Melissa McBain, and 2008's Promises, Promises, one of only a handful of musicals the theatre has produced during its 81-year history.

And on September 10, the Playcrafters Barn Theatre will actually present something of a blend of these latter two works - a debuting, religiously themed musical - when it premieres Hard to Believe, a song-filled re-telling of the Biblical story of Job, directed by Morrow, and written and composed by Tim Stoller and Jonathan Turner. Previously staged, in workshop form, at Rock Island's defunct Green Room Theatre in 2008 and Davenport's Zion Lutheran Church in 2009, Turner says that "the whole theme of the show is about the challenges of faith, and maintaining your faith in the face of all this tragedy."

 
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