Love Letters isn't a typical stage production by the standards of contemporary acting. That's because it's not necessary for performers to act or even memorize A.R. Gurney's script; they just read it. The experience is a bit like listening to a book-on-tape, with the benefit of being able to watch the readers. Some audience members for Playcrafters Barn Theatre's current production - running weekends through January 26 - won't enjoy the lack of stage movement, but those who know what to expect beforehand will appreciate the well-written script.

David Auburn's 2001 drama Proof isn't a torpid Pulitzer winner. Though it did win that prize along with the Kesselring and Tony awards, Proof is suspenseful from start to finish and has often been compared to a detective novel.

With only one exception, the home of The Nutcracker in the Quad Cities has been the Capitol Theatre in downtown Davenport. "We love it there," said Joedy Cook, executive director of Ballet Quad Cities, the company that puts on the annual holiday production.

"And dream we will, for we are in so odd a world that just to live is to dream." - Segismundo, Life Is a Dream

 

In his aptly titled Life Is a Dream, playwright Pedro Calderon de la Barca suggests that even if life is no more real that our sleeping stories, the Golden Rule still applies. Actions and relationships still have pertinence, and the status of an individual is defined by the opinions of those around him. Calderon's poetic 1636 play continues this weekend as part of the University of Iowa's 2003 Mainstage season.

Before Pablo Picasso and Albert Einstein became icons of the 20th Century, they were dreamers. Steve Martin thinks so anyway. In his 1996 play Picasso at the Lapin Agile, Martin explores the unusual (fictional) meeting of young artist Picasso and science genius Einstein before they created history-changing works and ideas - during a time they had only the visions in their heads to rely on. Richmond Hill Players is performing the play in Geneseo through October 13.

If there's a show that will make people question their thoughts and ideas about racism, it's Spinning Into Butter, continuing this weekend at Augustana College in a production by New Ground Theatre.

Ryan Riewerts thought the best way to mark the one-year anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks would be to travel 226 years back in time. Not really, of course. But he wanted to recognize and celebrate the beginning of America's freedom as a country, and to relate that experience to the uniting of Americans in response to the events of last September 11. He decided the closest thing to time travel would be to use the medium of theatre, two local drama groups, and a musical called 1776. A Riewerts-directed production of that play is scheduled for September 11 through 14 at Davenport's North High School.

Even though the organization has only staged two plays in its first year, New Ground Theatre chooses to measure success by quality more than quantity. And New Ground has been rising after being started last year by a woman with an idea and funding from local organizations.

After seeing the Friday night performance of Richmond Hill Barn Theatre's latest murder mystery, Fatal Attraction, one line stood out: "The American public will accept anything except being bored." Audiences don't have to worry, because there's no room for boredom during Bernard Slade's two-and-a-half-hour thriller. The action is almost non-stop, the characters are engaging, and the technical elements give the show a nice finishing touch.

In this weather, I pity the actors in Genesius Guild's production of Macbeth. In addition to the fact they're on stage wearing three layers of clothing and toting swords, shows are performed at Rock Island's Lincoln Park outdoor theatre, which draws little breeze, lots of bugs, and, of course, heat. Though these aren't ideal conditions for actors, or for audience members, people willing to brave the heat for three hours and put on the bug spray will be more than pleased to see an incredibly well-done yet traditional version of one of Shakespeare's great tragedies.

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