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Whose Life is it Anyway?: "Inside Out," at the Village Theatre Complex through April 13 PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Saturday, 12 April 2008 07:49

the Inside Out ensembleMy Verona Productions' last stage presentation premiered almost a year ago, so you could argue that the company is simply making up for lost time with its production of Christian Krauspe's Inside Out, a play within a play within a play (within another play, if I interpreted the climactic scene correctly). Yet based on its April 10 preview performance, the author's work-in-progress is still less a play than a stoner's conceit - "What if, like, everything we say and do is being written by, like, some unseen higher power who's, like, determining our actions without, like, our knowing it?" - and holds together about as well as most stoned ramblings; a few hours and a few bags of chips later, your "insights" begin to look rather dim.

Happily, they can also be pretty enjoyable to reflect on. And so it is with Inside Out, an undisciplined, convoluted, occasionally confounding piece that nevertheless isn't devoid of cleverness, and (luckily for Krauspe) features a goodly amount of fearless-goofball acting. I'm not entirely sure what to make of it - I'm not sure that the performers, director Chris Walljapser, or even the playwright are altogether certain, either - but it's definitely worth talking about.

Here's the scoop, or at least as much scoop as I can reveal without my head exploding: Inside Out opens with a sword-wielding egotist (Bryan J. Tank) attempting to woo a shrill maiden (Jackie Madunic) with a beehive hairdo. (Unless I'm mistaken, it's literally a Beehive hairdo, as Madunic's wig seems awfully familiar from Quad City Music Guild's 2007 production of that musical.) This scene, however, turns out to be a rehearsal for a horrific, quasi-romantic stage adventure - titled Love's Last Gasp - that's being written on the fly by a hyper-tense young playwright (Tristan Layne Tapscott) saddled with a dufus stage manager (J.W. Hertner) and a pompous director (Adam Lewis, channeling Don McKellar in the Canadian series Slings & Arrows).

Bryan J. Tank and J.W. Hertner in Inside OutThis scene, however, turns out to be a sequence in a script being written by another hyper-tense playwright, Brad (Lewis), who is suffering from an acute case of creativity-block, and who seeks editorial aid from his levelheaded friend Liz (Liz J. Millea). Their conversations are subsequently usurped by the playwright for his play within the play, and... . Well, you get the idea, though it'd all probably make more sense if you were high.

Krauspe's set-up isn't terribly novel (it's more or less a crap-theatre spin on The French Lieutenant's Woman), but the playwright has done something shrewd with his material; he's managed to deflect criticism of Inside Out by making Brad and Liz critical of it, too. Just about any complaints you might make about the plays-within-the-play's witless storylines, laughable dialogue, and bizarre leitmotifs are acknowledged by the show's "real" characters, and Brad's and Liz's dialogue is literate enough - and Lewis' and Millea's badinage is relaxed enough - to suggest the brains behind the intentional stupidity. The awfulness on display is generally funny awfulness. (Frustratingly, however, neither Brad nor Liz seems much interested in improving Brad's endeavor; they merely want to complete it.)

Yet Krauspe's amusing self-flagellation isn't foolproof, as there's still plenty here to criticize. Any way you slice them, the logistics of Inside Out's topsy-turvy plotting make no sense; Brad is on some half-explained deadline to finish his work, re-writing and all, in a matter of hours, and Love's Last Gasp is apparently being performed publicly before its finale has even been written. One sequence - and only one - finds events occurring on two theatrical planes simultaneously, which splits our focus and confuses the action. And the show is steeped in the sort of crass juvenilia that (thankfully) hasn't been seen on local stages since My Verona's Dingo Boogaloo comedies; I, for one, felt embarrassed for the performers during the gags involving beaver-stroking and the "baby carrot" erection of Tank's lothario. (At one point, Liz congratulates Brad on his script's employment of "dickweed," a term that she says hasn't been uttered nearly enough on stage. It has now.)

Liz J. Millea and Adam Lewis in Inside OutFor all of Inside Out's flaws, though, the cast members seem to be having a marvelous time, and are oftentimes so floridly silly that we do, too; in the Love's Last Gasp scenes, in particular, Walljasper appears to have directed his actors to go over the top, and then over that top. Madunic continues to suggest that she's having more fun than any other actress in area theatre - she can attack a line with so much unexpected vigor that it explodes - and Tank is wonderfully enthusiastic; his boyish charm makes him slightly miscast as a threatening asshole (just as he was slightly miscast, in the Green Room's The Glass Menagerie, as Tennessee Williams' unthreatening asshole), but he's a terrifically engaging presence.

Tapscott delivers menschy nervousness with perfect, Matthew Broderick-style cadences and, as always, crack comic timing, and Hertner - who was quite good in Scott Community College's recent Richard Blaine - plays a goat-sired minion (don't ask) with wild, infectious gusto. And while Lewis and Millea are appropriately, entertainingly broad in the play-acting scenes, they're infinitely more varied, and more humanely hilarious, as Brad and Liz; though I eventually discovered (in a post-show Q&A) that the figure of Liz is actually written as a man, the characters' playful repartee and burgeoning near-romance is the most charming element of the show.

As a work-in-progress, I hope that Krauspe (who is scheduled to appear at Inside Out's April 13 performance) recognizes this, and also addresses a few other issues, such as why the actor playing Brad also plays Love's Last Gasp's director, rather than its playwright, and why Madunic's actress would overhear a plot to poison Tapscott yet conveniently forget that information in her subsequent scene. The work is a mess, but as My Verona's offering suggests, it's far from an unfixable mess.

 

For information, visit (http://www.tristanlaynetapscott.com/myverona).

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written by me, April 13, 2008
thank you for supporting this group. the show isn't perfect... and based on the q&a i attended this evening, they all know that. BUT what's admirable is their dedication to the piece and to the development of something brand new. it's refreshing to see a play like this. gotta love OUR TOWN (ha)... but change is always good. can't wait to see what else they have in store.
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written by johnathan, April 13, 2008
it's hard to believe this group goes from something like PILLOWMAN to THIS.

even TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE wasn't a total bore.

i didn't care for the show... it did have its moments (and a great cast)... but was kind of excited to see something that few audiences had seen.

new stuff is cool but i'd like to see them go back to their roots in contemporary theatre.

i do give them credit for trying this though.
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written by ???, April 13, 2008
i walked out at intermission.
need i say more?
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written by >.>.>, April 14, 2008
it's too bad you walked out at intermission. some of these actors best work not to mention the playwrights funniest moments came in the second half.

it's almost unheard to get this many "names" (if you want to call them that) in one show. you have to applaud the talent level chris walljasper was able to utilize for this production.

and the material? wasn't any worse than something playcrafters and richmond hill might attempt. there were some rather offnesive words, yes - and mike i do agree with you here - but it's nothing we haven't heard before.

the night i attended the show the crowd was in the 20's at the very least. that's impressive for new show in a rather obscure location. and they all seemed to really enjoy themselves. i wish there could have been more! the village of east davenport is hardly the place for contemporary theatre. still i was impressed by the numbers. 20 may sound low but i have seen new ground theatre that have had less. and let's be honest here and say that even some new ground shows don't even deserve that. i degress...

i would suggest that my verona try to get into a smaller space. i have a feeling they will go back to there usual, smaller, HIGHER QUALITY pieces and the village theatre won't work for them.

it would seem as though i am rambling... and i will cease and let someone else with way too much time on their hands continue.

all in all i give the show a B . adam lewis was is in and you can't go wrong with him. so, B .
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written by Theatre Fan, April 14, 2008
Yes, the play is a work in progress, but the sheer excitement of seeing a promising new work from a talented young playwright should be met with much more enthusiasm than what's being shown here. What I don't get about Mike is how he bemoans simplistic playwrights like Neil Simon and when a play comes along that tries to mix low-brow humor with intellectual humor and underlines it with a philisophical point it is written off as something a stoner would write. I wonder if Mike's beloved Prenzie Players had produced this show if he would've heralded it as the new great American play?
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written by JACK OF ALL TRADES, April 14, 2008
good point, theatre fan.
if the green room had produced it, it would have been hailed as a brilliant masterpiece i am sure.

he seems to love tristan, though. (of course, the kid is in a new show every week). surprised he wouldn't give them more props.
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written by Tyson Danner, April 14, 2008
I saw the play Sunday, with a disappointingly small audience. The concept, I think, has some promise. However, I really did not enjoy the play. It just didn't work for me - too much going on and barely any focus. I totally relate to Mike's comment about it being something a stoner would write. Does explaining that a play is "supposed to be bad" make it any better? It didn't seem so. It seemed more like an excuse. But, as I said, I think there are a lot of possibilities for it. I'd love to see it again after revisions, and I hope My Verona brings it back to us at some point down the road.

For what it's worth, here's my $.02: We have to remember that this is a new work by a young playwright. We shouldn't expect it to be as good as Pillowman or as obvious as a Neil Simon, or anything else. I think we have to see it for what it is and what it could be. And we should applaud Tristan Tapscott and his company for taking the risks required to produce brand new material.

Theatre Fan -
I can't say how Mike felt, but for me the mixing you're talking about just didn't work. I understood what the playwright was trying to get across, but it just didn't fit together on stage. But that's the great thing about plays that are so "out there": everyone's going to have a different opinion!

Jack of All Trades -
Perhaps if The Green Room had produced it, it would've been a better show. Or it may have been terrible! It's just the chance you take when doing a premiere. Obviously, not everyone's going to think that The Green Room's productions are so consistently good, but the reviewers (not just Mike) seem to think so. As has been discussed before on this website, it's only ever an opinion! Theatre's so subjective that I think an honest opinion is the most we can expect (except, of course, for such obvious flaws as unmemorized lines).

As for Mike "loving" Tristan, I'd say it's well deserved. Tristan's a great actor and a great person, and it's hard to miss him because he winds up in another show every time you turn around! The personalities many of the actors brought to Inside Out (Tristan being among the most energizing and most fun) made it entertaining, despite the often confusing and unfocused plot.
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written by Scarlett O'Hara, April 14, 2008
Good point Theatre Fan! I have noticed the beloved Prenzie Players can do no wrong. They are a talented group, but even talented people turn out turkeys every once in a while. I was not that impressed with the Henriad, yet it was praised to high noon. Jack of all Trades--lay off Green Room. They rock!
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written by Tristan Tapscott, April 15, 2008
hello all,

i have a few comments to make. J

THE SHOW
the show is not the best. i openly admit that it's not my favorite script, nor the best project i have produced. BUT... the point is we were work-shopping the show because it needed work. and we knew that. and so did the playwright. this was our chance to create something new and figure out what was needed to make it better. let’s be honest... even PILLOWMAN and MORRIE had to start somewhere.

THE RISK
it was a huge risk to produce something like this. it's hard enough to get the community out to a big name show let alone something they haven't heard of. christian krauspe is a promising playwright and why not use our resources here to development his work? in my opinion, the risk was totally worth it.

MIKE
i adore mike. i read his column every week, and i would say that 8 times out of 10 he is right on. i think his assessment of INSIDE OUT wasn't far off. i value his opinion and think we can all learn from it. he made some extremely valid points and i can't thank him enough for posting this online. he came to the show on friday with no intention of posting this and i am happy he did!

disclaimer: mike and i are friends. we met years ago in a show at circa.... BUT that does not mean i can't do wrong with him. there have been several shows i have produced or have appeared in that he has totally bashed. just search my verona and you will see. :) let's not pretend i am flawless in his eyes here. on occasion i do decent work, and why shouldn't he applaud that?

TYSON... and DEREK TOO.
first off, thank you for the kind words. your support means a lot to me. there is something to be said for these two guys supporting the locals arts scene the way they do. people often wonder why they fill their space every night... and the answer is this: they support everyone and in turn everyone supports them. that can't be said for all groups in the area. there are several AD's/Producers that refuse to step foot in anyone else's space. it's rather sad. these two are two of the most wonderful people in QC theatre.

which leads me to...

THE GREEN ROOM THEATRE
i love this place. it's one of my favorite theatres to work for and i will do anything for them. they deserve the praise they get! their shows are always amazing... and i don't care what anyone else says, they are a perfect example of what theatre should be. you ask any actor that has worked with these guys and they will tell you that their experiences at the green room are unmatched. CAROUSEL, for example, will always be on the most memorable experiences of my life.

BACK TO SHOW…
while INSIDE OUT certainly was not the best production of the year, it was still a rewarding experience. though it was fraught with many problems from the beginning (with cast changes, spacial issues, etc.), we pulled together and created something brand new. it's easy to put something together that has a movie or cast recording to use as a reference, BUT to totally invent everything takes some serious talent. i must personally thank chris walljasper for his direction, and the cast - bryan, jackie, adam, liz, and justin - for their undeniable talent. i can't believe i was able to get them all on stage at the same time!! finally, i must give many thanks to christian krauspe for writing this piece and sending us on this adventure.

i am awkwardly happy so many people have commented on this! theatre is alive in the QC like it never has been before and it so exciting to see people talking about it!

best wishes,
tristan



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written by C Michaels, April 15, 2008
It is wonderful that theatre is thriving in the QCA. My experience in the entertainment industry is geographically broad and this is the richest theatrical community I have ever seen. It seems though that we often 'eat our young' so to speak.

Kudos to those who go out and start new theatrical projects, rather than sit and stew about the opportunities not afforded them at the more traditional companies. However, the birth of the new groups doesn't have to come at the expense of the old.

We don't have to prop up My Verona, Prenzie, or Green Room by tearing down QMCG, Playcrafters or RHP. Nor do we have to defend the old guard by beating up on the new groups.

One should remember that the folks at the established theaters were also once idealistic 20-somethings who were going to change the 'stale' theater scene with ground-breaking stuff. In some instances the 'veterans' do perform what's become comfortable to us and our audiences. But, the new groups will too. They will find a groove and settle into it.

This is art. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The beholder is the audience. To survive we all need the audience.

Debate and discussion is good, but in our criticisms we should be mindful of the damage we do to our own theater community when through harsh critique or scathing reviews we discourage people from attending.

Good or bad, every play tells a story - relates someone's experience, and there is always something to learn from that. And all the theatre groups in the QCA have something to learn from each other. We can all benefit by exchanging scripts, ideas, actors, set pieces, resources, etc. And we'll only survive by doing so.

Most importantly, we need to remember that the only review determining whether we're giving our best that matters comes from ourselves, and the audience.

Cue 'Kumbaya.'
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written by adam lewis, April 15, 2008
As I used to tell my students, if theatre brings about discussion, then it's served one of the 4 things it should.

I won't bore you with the other 3.

As, for theatrefan....hmmmm....it's interesting you should cap on Mike about his love for Prenzie and his loathing of Neil Simon.

Hey, I was getting sick of hearing about these bulletproof theatre ne'er do wells called the Prenzie Players....until I SAW them. Oh my God, if you are a theatre fan, then you have to marvel at what they do: theatre from NOTHING. True, bare bones, 2 boards and a passion theatre. They simply do good work. End of story.

The Green Room gets the same buzz- although I've haven't seen their stuff yet.

When either of these venues produces a turd, I'm sure Mike will call them on it.


......and if you saw God's Favorite at Ambrose- not one of Simon's better fare- well, then I don't know what to tell you. Sounds like you have a chip on your shoulder and it's blocking your view of the bigger picture.

Mike was being kind by putting a review online. He didn't have to. I think he read Julie's review and felt he needed to balance the scales toward MyV's favor.

And, yes, Mike's a friend. So's Ruby, so's David. So's Sean Leary and all the folks at the Argus. Blah, blah, blah... you do theatre long enough in this town and you get to know your critics and drink with them- or wait on them as is my case...and they'd still pan me in a turd. I hope they would. It keeps me honest.

And, I think Julie was right in a lot of what she saw that night. The show was lacking A LOT.

One thing I admire about Mike, though, is he never blames the actor. He'll start with the script. If that's fine, he'll look at the production values. From there, the direction. Then, and only then, will he judge an actor's talent to the overall production. (Keep in mind, movies are another matter all together. I disagree with him a lot more when it comes to going to 53 on a Friday. But, then again, I like crap. Rocky and Rambo aren't No Country For Old Men, but I know which one I'm usually more in the mood to see.)

This production was put up against all odds- actor's jumping ship at the last minute, a fractured rehearsal process, and our day jobs. And, in that time we were able to find actors willing to take a plunge into dark waters, a writer willing to let us fuck around with his script, and a venue that would let us add a stuffed beaver and a baby carrot (well, we thought it was funny), and we continued to add or cut stuff until the very last moment of the play on Sunday. While I do question whether or not we should have backed off, done some more table work and waited to do this at another time, I'm glad we were able to get the response and showcase this new work.

AND I WILL WEAR- LIKE A BADGE OR HONOR- JULIE JENSEN'S REVIEW.

Dude, if you can make that lady be pithy and biting, well, I think you have accomplished SOMETHING.

As for the person who walked out, hey, it's cool. Not everything we do is gold, we know that. Next time, just ask for your money back. Seriously. Ask for your money back. Because I would rather you have the money to spend on something you like, rather than listen to me blabber on in a robe or a funny hat. Spend it on the next thing we do. Or on Neil Simon.

We do the Pillowman's and Morrie's so we can piss around once in awhile. We'll watch your feet next time.

giggles! ;)
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written by Theatre Fan, April 15, 2008
Adam,

To be clear, I was not defending Neil Simon. IMHO, he has written plenty of crap that warrents his dodgy reputation. My point was that for someone who hates the predictibility and formulaic nature of Neil Simon, Inside Out should be right up his alley. I for one enjoyed Inside Out, flawed as it may be. Oh, and for the record I did see SAU's God's Favorite and found Mike's review to be spot on. I think the contention I have has little to do with Mike's tastes and more with his writing style. When he likes a show, his reviews can be almost embarassingly glowing, as if he's the literary equivilant to James Lipton. When he doesn't like a show, he is pithy and dismissive. I guess I would prefer a more constructive approach. I too love the fact that there's this kind of passionate discussion about theatre occuring in the QC.
Jackie Madunic
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written by Jackie Madunic, April 16, 2008
All I can say is "Wow! Check it out!" People are actually discussing theatre in the Quad Cities. When Tristan Tapscott asked me to do this show, to be honest, I was kinda scared. I mean, it was a new show, the rehearsal time was short,and I know my limitations as an actor. (I have trouble memorizing stuff.) For the record, I am NOT, nor would I ever pretend to be, a professional actor in the sense that I have absolutely NO training or education in the "craft" of acting and most of the shows I do are considered "community theatre." This is because I am a "community member." I have a regular "day job." I have a family. I do "this" for fun. And, fun it was. I got to work with an amazing cast (which included professional actors like Adam, Tristan, Liz and Bryan), an awesome director, Chris Walljasper, and I got to collaborate with a very creative, smart and cool playwright (Christian Kraupse) to "create" something which has never been done before. How many of you can say you got to "create" a character? Not me. And, I thought that was pretty frickin' cool. I'm glad that folks have strong opinions about the show, because that means we did what we set out to do...we pushed got to you. I too am glad to see Julie Jenson actually write a REVIEW and express her opinion of the show. (And, yes, Julie, I was wearing a dress that did not fit. Thanks for pointing that out.) And if you hated it, as far as I'm concerned, that is your choice. But, please, keep supporting these amazing theatre groups who are willing to take risks and put something out there that may not be well-received or even hated. I'll take criticism any day over the "same 'ol, same 'ol". So, please, keep writing about, discussing and criticizing this or any show you see. Let us know what you really think. (But try to show some courtesy and respect for others. There really is no need to be meanspirited or nasty.) 8)
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written by Jeff De Leon, April 18, 2008
I agree with you, Jackie - it's nice to see a passionate discussion happening about QC theatre.

First off, Mike has been doing reviews as long as I can remember. He also gets paid to do them as it's his profession. Clearly, he's doing something right or he wouldn't have retained the position he has for as long as he's had it. He posts a review online and in a paper and puts his name on it. It's his opinion and he owns it. And with this forum now available that people can offer feedback, the least they can do is own their opinions as well & not be so insecure as to hide behind fake names or the infamous "Anonymous" moniker.

I've been doing theatre a long time and have been reviewed negatively and positively. It's the nature of the profession that reviewers/patrons are going to be opinionated and love some things you do and not "get" other things. But if you get to the point that one person's opinion of a performance affects you so deeply that you lash out the way some of you have and then won't even own up to what you say by identifying yourself, then you may want to re-think being in theatre. As Adam Lewis said in an earlier post, theatre is SO subjective and you aren't going to please 100% of the people 100% of the time.

And I know Adam said that because Adam put his name on the post.

My already high respect for Adam Lewis, Jennifer Kingry, Tristan Tapscott, Tyson Daner, and Jason Platt has risen even more by the fact that they respect Mike's opinion, but also offer up their own opinions as well and own them.

I have worked with the "beloved" Prenzie Players currently as well as in the past, and the troupe is hardly "bulletproof," as someone claimed. Mike enjoys their shows, but his reviews offer intelligent critiques mixed in with the praise. Other reviewers have offered much harsher criticism on Prenzie shows, yet we're not all on those forums firing away. Maybe the positives in Mike's reviews are actually harmful to the Prenzie's as now people go into the shows with a "this better impress me b/c the review was so good" attitude and are already judging the show before they even sit down?

Scarlett O'Hara: I love your passion for theatre as you are all over these comment sections, but, m'lady, you've contradicted yourself a bit. You say that the Prenzie's are talented, but that talented people also turn out turkeys every once in awhile - in that you didn't enjoy the Henriad...yet, one sentence later, you tell someone to lay off The Green Room b/c they rock? So they are then incapable of turning out turkeys, apparently...? Interesting logic. I'd love to discuss it further with you, but it's hard for me to respect your opinion when you won't even make it yours by putting your name on it.

I'm actually in a Green Room show this summer and am ecstatic to be working with them. I also hope to do a Richmond Hill show sometime in the next year as well. If Mike likes the shows, great. If he hates them, that's fine too - because the review is his opinion that he gets paid to have.

But he also puts his name on the review and owns it - which makes me respect it whether it's positive or negative.

At any rate, I echo Jackie's sentiments when she said, "please, keep writing about, discussing and criticizing this or any show you see...But try to show some courtesy and respect for others. There really is no need to be meanspirited or nasty." I would amend that by adding, "Make all the critiques you want, but own the critiques you make."

*joins C Michaels in singing Kumbaya"*

Thanks,
-jd
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written by Jennifer Kingry, April 19, 2008
Jeff - you make several fine points, my friend.

I must admit, the first thought that crossed my mind when I read Jackie's opening statements - which seemed to indicate some surprise that people were actually discussing theater in the Quad Cities - was: I thought we always had! Or, at least, the people I've been around for the last 10 years have been discussing theater. In the past, however, those conversations were generally held at cast parties, or over coffee after rehearsal, or in bars.

One of the great things Mike's reviews and The Reader have brought to the table is a new forum to conduct a part of these "discussions" online, perhaps with a wider segment of people than we might have reached before in our one-to-one encounters. This can lead to a broadening of both subjects and viewpoints.

On the down side, the fact that we are no longer dealing directly with another human being can sometimes lead to flippant or even mean-spirited comments, which I oftentimes doubt the speaker would have made to someone's face, say at Panera's or the Blue Cat.

So, to some extent, the incivility that occasionally marks these forums is fostered by the medium itself, the fact that it feels somewhat de-personalized. (Hey, I can be a culprit in this as much as the next guy; I seem to have a key that sometimes gets stuck on my computer! I think I'm being "wry" but to others, it's just plain nasty.)

I'm perhaps a little more lenient in cutting people some slack for posting anonymously. Yes, it may possibly reflect an unwillingness to back up one's own views. On the other hand, I've personally known more than one person who was deeply reluctant to put his/her names to print due to the sensitive nature of their jobs. And, ultimately, I suspect there are some folks within the theater community who hesitate to openly take issue with a critic, fearing it will lead to a bad notice on their next time around.

I've assured more than one such that I firmly believe Mike Schulz is the last person I know of who would hold a grudge like that. But I guess I can understand why someone might feel leery (no pun intended).

At any rate, The Reader has not only provided us all with insightful theatrical critiques but with a useful means of expressing ourselves and learning from others. To some degree, I feel I've gotten to "know the minds" of several local theater folks whom I've never had the pleasure to actually meet (though I hope this will be remedied in time.)

One minor point of disagreement with you, though, Jeff - we don't really consider the length of time someone has been writing reviews as a yardstick for quality, do we? Okay, I'm not even going to go there!

*switching the tune to "If I Had a Hammer"*

JK
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written by Theatre Fan, April 19, 2008
Jeff,

While I respect the choice of those who put their names on their posts, I noticed that none of these people had anything critical to say except to the fellow posters. I could put any random name down and you would never know if it is my real name or not. Does that all of a sudden make my comments more or less valid? As someone who has worked with almost every theatre company in the area and who also knows how sensitive people in the theatre community can be. I would love to think that we could openly and respecfully criticize each others work and not take it too personally. But if we're really honest with ourselves we know that the person who puts their name out there with negative, albeit constructive & honest criticism would be unfairly looked upon as an asshole for their opinions. That should not prohibit us from having these types of discussions. I for one love the fact that passionate discussion of theatre has found a home on this website and I look forward to more spirited conversation. If my comments have come across as anything other than constructive, I apologize.
Allison Collins-Elfline
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written by Allison Collins-Elfline, April 20, 2008
Maybe I'm a little late to the responding party, but my fellow QC theatre colleagues have pointed out some valid and heartfelt points.

I had the great opportunity, living in Cincinnati Ohio for 4 years, to work steadily in the theatre community. What I found there, amid 50-60 theatre companies, was a comraderie and support network for all companies in the area. Actors, performers, tech folks, all supporting each others' ventures with the utmost love and respect. What I cannot wrap my head around, now that I'm in this area, is why in the world we'd want to tear each other down. We aren't in competition, are we? This is a small community with, now, close to 15 theatre companies. Maybe I'm just an optimist, but I don't see us as fighting for audiences, or even a certain type of audience, but rather "a rising tide raises all ships". Shouldn't we want MORE companies to either enjoy their works, or to take part in them? Because we're a small community, and take part in each others shows, shouldn't we want to support our friends out in the open, rather than criticize them anonymously? My own brand new theatre company opens in a little under 4 weeks. What will be said about our first venture in the QC theatre community? I know our style, show selections, and performance ideas may not be for everyone, but C Michaels couldn't have said it better- at least we're out there making something happen rather than bemoaning and spreading our negativity around. Kudos for the "established companies were once 20-somethings" idea. While I'm far from 20-something, I do hope our brand-new company finds its groove and settles into it, just as my friends at Prenzie, Green Room, and My Verona have.
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written by Scarlett O'Hara, April 20, 2008
Hi Jeff. Thank you for your interesting post. You have made some wonderful points. I never said that the Green Room can't produce turkeys; in fact, I have not seen a production. What rocks about them is the fact that they take a small space & make it workable. Look at what they did with Carousel. You were right to point out the contradiction. Thank you. But they are also not afraid of stick to one area of theater. Instead of constantly doing Shakespeare, they have done musicals, straight plays, & held movie premieres. That makes them far more versatile.

I admit I cannot wait to see Prenzie's Life Is a Dream since it is different from their current fare. Could it be Prenzie is worried about people getting bored with Shakespeare?

As for my name, Scarlett O'Hara works fine. I do not have to post my identity to make valid points. And neither do you. The First Amendment gives us that privilege. Thank you for respecting us by posting your name. Please respect me by my posting as Scarlett O'Hara. Thank you.
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written by Molly, April 21, 2008
Greetings. I agree with C Michaels--it IS wonderful that theatre is thriving in the Quad Cities. And also Jackie Madunic--there is no reason to be nasty. Is there an actual theatre blog where we can chat anytime we want? If not, one should get started. Maybe on qctheatreweb.com....

As a proud member of the theatre community, I agree that Mike's opinion is his own, as is anyone's. I am disturbed & intrigued by Scarlett O'Hara. You are right--the First Amendment does give us the right to free speech. I have a BA in Communications; this is something I take seriously. I also know what the limitations are for free speech. You are completely entitled to your opinion. I respect that. Mike & the others are entitled to theirs. I respect that.

I would love to discuss with you further. The same goes for everyone/anyone on this site. I have no life, so it is no problem to email or sit down & talk about a subject we are all so passionate about.

Just wanted to post my two cents. I now return to my reguarly boring life already in progress....
Jackie Madunic
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written by Jackie Madunic, April 21, 2008
Hello again, passionate lovers of theatre,

First of all, I want to clarify what I meant about people "finally" discussing theatre in the QCA. I know we all discuss theatre amongst ourselves in a variety of places, (Blue Cat has definitely become one of my favorite haunts) but I personally love the fact that we can respond online to Mike's reviews and discuss our opinions in this type of forum. I would LOVE to see a website where we could "chat" online about theatre, as Molly suggested. Or better yet, maybe we should organize a time where all of us can actually get together somewhere and talk about what's happening in theatre in the Quad Cities. I enjoy reading everyone's comments and I am grateful for the opportunity to express my opinion. Personally, I don't care if you choose to use your real name or not. If you feel more comfortable not using your name, I still want to read your comments. I for one am very excited about ALL the cool things going on in our theatre community. I agree with C Michaels points as well. (Warning: Soapbox alert!) I want to support theatre, whether it's Music Guild, Playcrafters, Richmond Hill,the Prenzies,New Ground, My Verona, the Green Room or Riverbend Theatre Collective. (or anyone else I may have left out) Also, we have some great college theatre here at Augie, St. Ambrose and Blackhawk. In order for theatre to thrive, we need to support these groups, by attending their shows and if possible by volunteering our time and talents to help these organizations grow. Most of the hard work done in theatre is done by volunteers. People who spend countless hours of hard work to make sure the production looks good from the "inside out" no pun intended. People like Jennifer Kingry does, for example. Anyone who knows Jennifer would attest to the fact that she really knows her stuff and is passionate about her work and this passion for detail creates amazing shows. (And she has volunteered her time with many different theatre groups besides Richmond Hill.)In conclusion, I forgot to mention one actor I had the pleasure of working with in "Inside Out." J.W. Hertner is a terrific young actor who has alot of potential. He was the most believable "goat boy" I have ever seen and a really nice kid. Have a wonderful day!
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written by Andy Koski, April 21, 2008
After reading the comments by Scarlett O'Hara I felt the need to respond. First of all, I’d have to say that you are correct; the Green Room does rock. It's too bad that you've missed out on their versatile productions. I was fortunate enough to see four of their shows, including Carousel, and if you had "looked" at what they did with that show you would have had good reason to be impressed. I can't help but be reminded of the New Ground play "Fudge", an allegory for the local theatre scene, in which a couple stops by the protagonist’s fudge store periodically, complements the owner, and leaves without purchasing anything. The store eventually closes. If you want to make sure that such unique groups continue, you many actually want to help fill up their seats. (But since you are in the habit of commenting on things not experienced, I will take a moment and do the same: Ulysses by James Joyce is overrated, the food at Buckingham palace is bland and the view form the top of Mount Everest is really neat.)

You must forgive me. You see I'm working on the current Prenzie Players production and I'm kind of tired. Yesterday, I had to work for two hours on my sword fight, then had the improv training for certain improvised sequences, dance practice, and verse analysis, all before the usual blocking and character work. Thank goodness I'm not one of the actors that has to sing or I'd have been at rehearsal even longer. But this is not that unusual for our plays, especially the Shakespeares. Aside from the usual acting, the actors and actresses are often asked to fight (Henry V had almost as many stage combat rehearsals as regular rehearsals), sing, play instruments, improvise, and analyze text based on its poetic form, all the while playing multiple characters of different ages and genders. You say we are not versatile, but if that’s not versatility, I don't know what is. It's the challenge that makes it fun. Love our shows or hate our shows you have to admit our actors work their tails off.

On another note, I'm glad you’re excited to see Life's a Dream. It's an unusual show, but it's pretty powerful and we hope to do it justice. Our reason for doing this play, in case you were wondering, is because the director J.C. Luxton feels passionately about it (and if you've ever met J.C. you'd know his passion is contagious). Also, why should Prenzie need to do modern plays or musicals? There are already a number of great groups doing that in the area. When the mood strikes any of us to try a different type of theatre we audition for other groups. In fact this summer my fellow actors from Life's a Dream are going to be acting or assisting with Kimberly Akimbo, If Bees in Honey Drown, Evita, Assassins and more. (No me though, I'm going to be lame and take grad classes).

To be honest Scarlett I guess what I don’t get is why my group is getting attacked on a page reviewing My Verona. (I had a great time at Inside Out, by the way. I attended the preview night and the actors and director were aware of the script's shortcomings. The cool thing was that they were clearly in it as a learning experience and seemed eager for suggestions and feedback. I loved the actors’ enthusiasm and how committed they were to every joke, no matter how goofy it might have been. I’m looking forward to seeing what play they do next.)

As for Mike, it's his very harshness at times that makes his positive reviews mean something. It's hard to trust a complement from someone who only gives compliments (or, for that matter, from one who never even saw your show in the first place).

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written by Molly, April 21, 2008
Jackie--I must clarify what I said earlier. I agree with you--there is no reason to be nasty. The way I wrote that earlier made it sound like I was attacking you. So much for being a Communications major! I apologize.
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written by SB, April 22, 2008
Scarlett! I do DECLARE you are quite a fire-starter...like so many southern belles.

Truly, this comment chain has blossomed in many different directions.

Thusly, I would like to take a left turn on a green arrow by a purple tulipped boulevard: I really enjoyed Allison's comment. Let's support eachother! Let's fill ourselves with southern hospitality for our fellow theatre artists. Let's pull out those pineapple wine glasses and throw a crazy party!

In a world where media has overthrown human interaction in so many ways, let's bring the public back out and give them something real to remind them why humanity ISN'T shallow or disparate - just flawed and sometimes out of touch with itself - AND let's revel in how theatre showcases the collective human spirit better than electronic projections - with LIVE human spirit.

Pick your plays accordingly (wink).

Cue: "Halleluiah!"


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