It’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.
"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."
(Author's note: I'm a proud ensemble member of the Curtainbox Theatre Company, and along with interviewee Lora Adams, am serving as co-associate producer on Wit.)
"When you hear that word - cancer - it's very surreal," says WQPT-TV Director of Marketing Lora Adams, regarding her 2008 diagnosis with the disease. "There's a moment when the reality of it not being a television show, or not happening to somebody else's family, has to sort of settle in. You have that moment of 'Holy crap.' And then once that happens, you move forward."
If you're familiar with local theatre, you're likely familiar with the work of Michael King, whose area credits include performances for the Playcrafters Barn Theatre, the Prenzie Players, the Harrison Hilltop Theatre, (the now-defunct) Ghostlight Theatre, the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse, and - in numerous productions over the past five years - Rock Island's classical-theatre organization Genesius Guild.
Yet as King explains (with a laugh), if you've seen him anywhere on stage, you've likely seen him at his best.
"I suck at real life," says King, who turns 40 on July 7. "I do. You know, I make appointments and I miss 'em, I'm late with bills ... . Everything. But on stage, I'm able to be me.
The following is the Friday, June 25 broadcast of WVIK's "Midweek Week," with host Herb Trix discussing the area's summer-theatre season with the River Cities' Reader'sMike Schulz. "Midwest Week" can be heard on the program "All Thing Considered" on WVIK 90.3 FM - Augustana Public Radio, Fridays at 6:50 p.m.
Friday, June 25: Download
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