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Flying Foot Forum Returns to Park Square

Flying Foot Forum Returns to Park Square

HEAVEN

Flying Foot Forum’s emotional, dance filled musical returns

MEDIA CONTACT
Connie Shaver, shaver@parksquaretheatre.org

Park Square Theatre and Flying Foot Forum present Heaven, on the Proscenium stage from May 31 through June 23, 2019. Created and directed by Joe Chvala, H

EAVEN is a choreographic blend of frenzied dancing, music and theatre set in war-torn Bosnia during the 1990s. The production features Orkestar Bez Ime, a Balkan party band, music by Chan Poling (The Suburbs, Glensheen) Joe Chvala, Victor Zupanc, and Natalie Nowytski, and actors who sing and speak in English and Serbo-Croatian as this story steeped in history celebrates the Bosnian culture and the dignity of those who lived through the war.

Heaven was first presented in March 2011 at the Guthrie’s Dowling Theatre. That production was ironically timed as the Arab Spring uprising was engulfing Egypt. Chvala is finding the messages of the play are as timely today as they were in 2011.

“Heaven is a show of sharp contrasts, filled with beautiful music, love stories and raucous dancing, as it brings us inside the violence of the Bosnian War,” said Chvala. “It is a cautionary tale of the need to find common ground rather than fight those who are different from us.”

The play begins in a café, the crowd singing Bosnian songs. Photo journalist Peter Adamson is documenting the war and is frustrated that his photos are not prompting the world to take action. He finds himself on a journey with his translator Faruk to save Faruk’s wife. Amid the horrors of war, there is humor, love and hope as the characters try to maintain their humanity. “This is theater that grabs you by the shoulders and shakes you in your seat.” (How Was the Show)

The production is enriched by a series of public events created in partnership by Park Square Theatre, Flying Foot Forum, World Without Genocide, The St Paul Rotary Club and the Minneapolis University Rotary Club to take audiences into the heart of the Bosnian War, genocide and through the transitional justice efforts that have followed in the decades since the war ended. Next up:

Exhumations and Justice

Post-show conversation following the Sunday, June 16 performance

A discussion following the performance will be led by Dr. Andrew Baker, Hennepin County Medical Examiner, who served as a forensic pathologist in Kosovo.

Sex Trafficking and Genocide

Film The Whistleblower and FBI talk on sex trafficking

Tuesday, June 11, 7:00 p.m.
Mitchell Hamline School of Law, 875 Summit Avenue, St. Paul

This 2010 biographical crime drama starring Rachel Weisz and Vanessa Redgrave is the story of Kathryn Bolkovac, a Nebraska police officer recruited as a UN peacekeeper for DynCorp International in post-war Bosnia in 1999. While there, she discovered a sex trafficking ring serving (and facilitated by) DynCorp employees, with the UN’s SFOR peacekeeping force turning a blind eye. A post-film talk will be moderated by FBI Special Agent Michael Melcher of the sex trafficking unit.

 

The production team for Heaven includes Emma Lai (Assistant Director); Jake Endres (Music Director); Robin Mcintyre (Scenic Design); Cindy Forsgren (Costume Design); Kirby Moore (Properties Design); Marcus Dilliard (Lighting Design); Cody Anderson (Sound Design); Steve Campbell (Video Design); Stela O’Center (Language and Culture Consultant); Joe Papke (Dialect Coach); Rachel Lantow *(Stage Manager);and Paran Kashani (Assistant Stage Manager)

CAST:

Jeremy Bensussan

Jan Campbell

Joe Chvala

Peter Colburn

Michelle de Joya

Ariel Donahue

Kevin Dustrude

Mary Gantenbein

Karla Grotting

Liam Hage

Christian LaBissoniere

Cooper Lajeunesse

Helena Magalhaes

Riley McNutt

Natalie Nowytski

Charles Robison

Jessica Staples

Molly Stoltz

Nicolas Sullivan

Lara Trujillo

Eric Webster

Joe Weismann

Mabel Weismann

 

BAND

Colleen Bertsch

Jeffrey Gram

Jake Endres

Scott Keever

Eric Ray

Ticket prices: Previews: $20-$37. Regular Run: $25-$60. Discounts are available for seniors, military personnel, those under age 30, and groups. Tickets are on sale at the Park Square ticket office, 20 W. Seventh Place, or by phone: 651.291.7005, (12 noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday), or online at parksquaretheatre.org.   #PSTHeaven

*Member, Actors Equity Association

CALENDAR INFORMATION

Heaven

Park Square’s Proscenium Stage

Previews: May 31 – June 6, 2019

Opening Night: June 7

Regular Run: June 7 – 23, 2019

Tickets: Previews: $20-$37; Regular Run: $25-$60

PARK SQUARE THEATRE, 20 W. Seventh Place, Saint Paul

Ticket office: 651-291-7005 or parksquaretheatre.org

 

UP NEXT ON THE PARK SQUARE PROSCENIUM STAGE:

The world premiere of:

Jefferson Township Sparkling Junior Talent Pageant

Book and Lyrics by Keith Hovis

Directed by and Laura Leffler

Previews: June 14 – 20, 2019

Opening Night: June 21

Regular Run: June 21 – July 28, 2019

 

PARK SQUARE THEATRE. 20 W. Seventh Place, Saint Paul. Ticket Office: 651.291.7005. www.parksquaretheatre.org

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Stars of MARIE AND ROSETTA to play the Dakota!

On April 21st, Jamecia Bennett and Rajané Katurah Brown will return to the Dakota Jazz Club for a one-night-only performance of the music from Park Square’s hit production Marie and Rosetta, a tribute to gospel and rock legend, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and her protege Marie Knight.

In the play, Sister Rosetta states, “I brought a little church to the nightclub, and a little nightclub to the church,” making it a perfect show for a family outing on Easter Sunday.

Sunday April 21. 7:00 pm
Dakota Jazz Club
1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis
For tickets visit www.dakotacooks.com

Jamecia Bennett and Rajané Katurah Brown at The Dakota in January 2019. Photo by Connie Shaver.

“Stars from Sister Rosetta Tharpe play adapt wonderfully to the Dakota”
Star Tribune

Bringing fierce guitar playing and swing to gospel music, Sister Rosetta Tharpe influenced rock musicians from Elvis to Jimi Hendrix and Ray Charles. Jamecia Bennett (lead singer of Sounds of Blackness) and Rajané Katurah Brown (Star Tribune “9 Artists to Watch in 2019”) present an a tribute not to be missed!

Announcing the 2019 Artist Fellowship Recipients

Program aims to increase the pipeline for under-represented artists

Saint Paul, Minn., March 13, 2019 – Flordelino Lagundino, Park Square Theatre’s John W. Harris Artistic Director, has announced the eight recipients for the pilot year of a new Artist Fellowship program at Park Square: Ricardo Beaird, Ernest Briggs, Mary Capers, Maxwell Collyard, Ashawnti Sakina Ford, Sophie Peyton, Lindsey C. Samples, DJ Kool Akiem Scott.

“Fellowships gave me an inside track at some of the best theatres in the country, advancing my artistry and building my network,” says Lagundino. “We were delighted to receive 58 applications this year. It’s important to me that in our work at Park Square we find ways to open doors and build a pipeline for all early career theatre artists, especially for marginalized communities such as indigenous, people of color, and LGBTQA artists, in order to create a greater sense of belonging for everyone in our community.”

The first year of the new theatre fellowship program is made possible by major grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board and Saint Paul’s Cultural STAR program. Fellows will deepen and develop new skills over the upcoming year in residence by participating in projects which will connect them to Park Square and the Saint Paul/larger Twin Cities’ community.

For the 2019 fellowships, there were five assistant directing tracks and three assistant designer tracks assigned (design may be in any theatrical design medium: set, costume, lights, props, sound, or projections). Each fellow will assist on two shows from early stages through final production, and will have a voice in production meetings, planning, rehearsals, and direct collaboration with lead production staff and the Artistic Director.

Collectively, the fellows will form a self-directed cohort of emerging leaders and may participate in the various department functions at Park Square in areas such as casting, season planning, carpentry, electrics, wardrobe or run crew, and in budgeting, human resources or marketing. Additionally, there will be opportunities to meet with artistic leaders at Park Square’s partner theatres as well as other area theatrical institutions. To involve the fellow cohort with the wider community, staff support, and dedicated resources will be provided to help each fellow create an engagement experience as a part of Park Square’s mission to center artmaking within the ongoing dialogue we have with our community.

At the end of the fellowship year, the cohort will participate in an Evening Cabaret Performance in which Twin Cities Artistic Leaders will be invited. This culminating event will be co-hosted with the MN Theatre Alliance. Feedback will be considered for the planning of future iterations and development of the program.

Park Square’s community partners in this program include Springboard for the Arts, the MN Theatre Alliance, the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, Theatre Mu, the History Theatre, PRIME Productions, and the East Side Freedom Library.

Headshots of recipients HERE  BIOS follow below.

Ricardo Beaird [Director Track] is a theatre maker and teaching artist from Nashville who recently performed at Park Square in Dot and Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery. Currently, Ricardo is an actor/presenter at the Science Museum of Minnesota. This year, he was selected to be a Red Eye Theater Works-In-Progress artist with his collaborator, Megan Burns.

Ernest Briggs [Director] is a professional actor and Twin Cities native who has worked in Minneapolis, Chicago, Los Angeles and Florida. Ernest received his Master of Fine Arts in Acting from the University of Florida. He has worked locally as an actor with Mixed Blood Theatre, Park Square Theatre, Girl Friday Productions, Minnesota History Theatre, Artistry Theatre, Children’s Theatre Company, Teatro Del Pueblo, Pillsbury House Theatre, Turtle Theatre Collective, South Coast Repertory (CA), Tilted Windmills Theatricals (FL) and various feature films. He has also directed productions for the Minnesota Fringe Festival, Nimbus Theatre and various short films.

Mary Capers [Design] is a wig designer from South Jamaica Queens, New York. She has a Bachelor of Arts from SUNY Fredonia and a pending Master of Fine Arts in Theatrical Design and Production from Brooklyn College. She has worked at various theatres around the country and is happy to finally call the Twin Cities home.

Maxwell Collyard [Design] is an interdisciplinary theatre/film artist based in the Twin Cities working mainly with digital content and live performance. Maxwell designed projections for Turtle Theater Collective, Theatre Novi Most, Frank Theatre, and the Playwrights’ Center. He also works as a cinematographer/editor for various fundraisers, Mixed Blood Theatre/Project 154, and with Fox and Coyote, Annie and the Bang Bang, Daniel Bonespur, and Porno Wolves to create music videos. He enjoys making movies in his spare time and is currently preparing a feature-length film for festivals. Maxwell also works as an actor and assistant director for theatres in the Twin Cities.

Ashawnti Sakina Ford [Director] is an actress, teaching artist, improviser, playwright, poet and director born and raised in the Twin Cities. Her work is typically centered in social change and arts accessibility. She recently co-founded The Black Ensemble Players theatre company to give rising black artists the opportunity to work on classical and new theatre. She is also a member of Blackout Improv which was recently recognized as a Minnesota Change-maker by MPR. Ashawnti has been seen on stages including the History Theatre and the Guthrie Dowling studio and has worked with companies including Full Circle Theatre, Sandbox Theatre and Combustible.

Sophie Peyton [Director] is a freelance director, dramaturg, and community engagement coordinator. Originally from Boston, she moved to Minneapolis to further her career in new play development and artistic administration. She holds a B.A. from Temple University and has worked on the administrative and producing staff at McCarter Theatre Center, Wilma Theater, and PlayPenn: New Play Development Conference. Regional credits include Minnesota Opera, Trademark Theater, History Theatre, Park Square Theatre, McCarter Theatre Center, and Wilma Theater. She’s had the pleasure of assisting directors Emily Mann, Adam Immerwahr, Jamil Jude, Peter Rothstein, and Doug Scholz-Carlson.

Lindsey C. Samples [Director] is a multidisciplinary theater artist. She believes art is a critical ingredient in fostering a healthy society and creating necessary social change. As a director, performer, teaching artist, and arts administrator, she has used theater as a bridge to be in conversation across communities, geography, cultures, languages, abilities, and identities. Lindsey holds a B.A. in Theater from Loyola University Chicago and an M.Ed. in Youth Development Leadership from the University of Minnesota.

DJ Kool Akiem Scott [Design] is an educator, teaching artist, renowned DJ, composer, sound designer, and producer. Widely recognized as a pioneer of the Twin Cities Hip-Hop community, he’s produced for the legendary Micranots, was DJ for MF Doom’s domestic and European tours, and has performed with artists such as Public Enemy, De La Soul, The Roots, Grandmaster Flash, and Jazzy Jeff. Kool Akiem has produced seven albums, many of which are critically acclaimed that released on Rhymesayers Entertainment, Subverse Records, and Mental Madness Wreckords. He has held DJ residencies in New York and Atlanta, and hosted radio shows including The Panther Power Hour on WRFG (Atlanta) and WEQY (Saint Paul). His expertise and philosophies on Sampling and Hip Hop pedagogy have been featured in several books including Five Percenter Rap by Felicia Miyakawa and Making Beats by Joseph Schlosh. He composed original scores for the award-winning stage play Kung Fu Zombies vs Cannibals (Theater Mu), was DJ for Illyria (Theater Latte Da), a sound designer for The Two Kids That Blow Shit Up (Theater Mu) and was recently commissioned to compose the theme song for Kung Fu Zombies vs Shaman Warrior (Smithsonian). He taught Hip Hop Music History at McNally Smith College of Music and conducts DJ and recording residencies and workshops for all ages as a teaching artist through COMPAS, East Metro Integration District and Intermedia Arts.

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PARK SQUARE THEATRE. 20 W. Seventh Place, Saint Paul. Ticket Office: 651.291.7005. parksquaretheatre.org

Programs, Justice After Genocide

Programs, Justice After Genocide

For Immediate Release

Programs, Justice After Genocide

(St. Paul, MN; February 22, 2019) The country of Yugoslavia imploded during the early 1990s, collapsing into genocide and mass atrocities perpetrated by individuals, government armies, and paramilitary militias against one-time friends and neighbors.

Park Square Theatre, St. Paul, is presenting Heaven, a theatrical look into war-torn Bosnia told by playwright/director Joe Chvala in music, dance, and story. The work will be produced by theatre in residence, Flying Foot Forum.

To deepen public understanding of the conflict and of the challenges faced after genocide, Park Square Theatre, in collaboration with World Without Genocide and Flying Foot Forum, offers a series of programs that include films, talks, and a compelling personal story of a survivor of one of the 20th-century’s worst massacres.

The events are open to the public:  $10 general public, $5 seniors and students; $25 for lawyers’ CLE credits at most programs; ‘clock hours’ for educators.  No advance registration is required.

Programs:

Film, Men Don’t Cry. War trauma in Bosnia.
Thursday April 4, 7:00-9:00 pm
Park Square Theatre, Andy Boss Thrust Stage.

Panel, A Survivor, a Prosecutor, and a Forensic Pathologist
Tuesday, April 16, 7:00-9:00 pm
Mitchell Hamline School of Law

Talk, Bosnia, Genocide, and Climate Change
Thursday, April 25, 7:00-9:00 pm
St. Anthony Park Public Library

Film and Talk, Rape:  A Crime of Genocide – The Foča ‘Rape Camp’ Trials
Sunday, May 19, 1:30-3:30 pm
Park Square Theatre, Proscenium Stage

Film and talk, Sex Trafficking and Genocide with FBI Special Agent
Tuesday, June 11 7:00-9:00 pm
Mitchell Hamline School of Law

Exhumations and Justice, Post-show discussion
Sunday, June 16. After 2:00 pm performance of Heaven
Park Square Theatre, Proscenium Stage

“Genocide and Justice:  From Nuremberg to the International Criminal Court,” an exhibit by World Without Genocide, will be on display at Park Square Theatre during this time.

The series is co-sponsored by the Minnesota Chapter, Federal Bar Association; the Human Rights Committee, Minnesota State Bar Association; DKG, an international women educators’ society; ILSA, the International Law Student Association at Mitchell Hamline School of Law; and the St. Paul and Minneapolis-University Rotary Clubs.

Tickets for Heaven, running May 31 – June 23, can be purchased here

More information – info@worldwithoutgenocide.org , www.worldwithoutgenocideorg , 651-695-7621.

World Without Genocide promotes education and action to protect innocent people, prevent genocide, prosecute perpetrators, and remember those affected by genocide.

Contact: Ellen J. Kennedy, Ph.D.
Executive Director
651-695-7621
kennedy@worldwithoutgenocide.org

 

      Graphic logo for Park Square Theatre - deep red type on white background      

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Announcing New Artist Fellowships

PARK SQUARE ANNOUNCES ARTIST FELLOWSHIPS

Program aims to increase the pipeline for under-represented artists


UPDATE: Submissions for the 2019 fellowships are now passed. Fellows will be announced March 1, 2019. Check back on this website in December 2019 for information on the next fellowship round.


MEDIA CONTACT: Connie Shaver, shaver@parksquaretheatre.org

Director Wendy Knox with Park Square Artistic Director, Flordelino Lagundino.

Saint Paul, Minn., January 7, 2019 – Flordelino Lagundino, Park Square Theatre’s John W. Harris Artistic Director, announces that applications are now being accepted for the pilot year of a new Artist Fellowship program at Park Square. “Fellowships gave me an inside track at some of the best theatres in the country, advancing my artistry and building my network,” says Lagundino, who assistant directed Blithe Spirit at The Guthrie as a New York Directing Fellow — an opportunity created by The Drama League Directors Project. “There is an industry-wide lack of arts leadership opportunities for people of color like myself, particularly early career artists. It’s important to me that in our work at Park Square we find ways to open doors and build a pipeline for all early career theatre artists, especially for marginalized communities such as indigenous, people of color, and LGBTQA artists, in order to create a greater sense of belonging for everyone in our community.”

The first year of the new theatre fellowship program is made possible by major grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board and Saint Paul’s Cultural STAR program. For the first round, Park Square will select eight early career artists from a state-wide, open application process.

PURPOSE AND DESCRIPTION

To help fill an industry-wide lack in arts leadership opportunities, Park Square is piloting a theatre fellowship program in 2019. Park Square will select eight early career artists from a state-wide, open application process which seeks to elevate a cohort of diverse artistic voices for stage. Fellows will deepen and develop new skills over their year in residence by participating in projects which will connect them to Park Square and the Saint Paul/larger Twin Cities’ community.

For the fellowship, there are four assistant directing tracks and four assistant designer tracks available (design may be in any theatrical design medium: set, costume, lights, props, sound, or projections). Each fellow will assist on two shows from early stages through final production, and will have a voice in production meetings, planning, rehearsals, and direct collaboration with lead production staff and the Artistic Director.

Collectively, the fellows will form a self-directed cohort of emerging leaders and may participate in the various department functions at Park Square in areas such as casting, season planning, carpentry, electrics, wardrobe or run crew, and in budgeting, human resources or marketing. Additionally, there will be opportunities to meet with artistic leaders at Park Square’s partner theatres as well as other area theatrical institutions. To involve the fellow cohort with the wider community, staff support, and dedicated resources will be provided to help each fellow create a engagement experience as a part of Park Square’s mission to center artmaking within the ongoing dialogue we have with our community.

At the end of the fellowship year, the cohort will participate in an Evening Cabaret Performance in which Twin Cities Artistic Leaders will be invited. This culminating event will be co-hosted with the MN Theatre Alliance.

Assistant Directing Fellows and Assistant Design Fellows will receive $4,000 for the year. Payments will made in two installments: mid-way through the year and at the culmination of the project.

Park Square’s community partners in this program include Springboard for the Arts, the MN Theatre Alliance, the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, Theatre Mu, the History Theatre, PRIME Productions, and the East Side Freedom Library.

This is a new program and 2019 is the pilot year. Feedback will be considered for the planning of future iterations and development of the program.

ELIGIBILITY

Applicants must to 18 years of age or older. Full-time students at any level are not eligible. Applicants must be eligible to receive taxable income in the state of Minnesota throughout the fellowship year and must have been living or working in Minnesota for at least two years. IPOC, woman+ and LGBTQIA+ peoples are encouraged to apply.

APPLICATION TIMELINE


UPDATE: Submissions for the 2019 fellowships are now passed. Fellows will be announced March 1, 2019. Check back on this website in December 2019 for information on the next fellowship round.


SELECTION

Applications are reviewed by a panel comprised of Artistic Director Flordelino Lagundino, Associate Artistic Director Laura Leffler, and two other artistic associates. Applications will be judged upon the following criteria: (1) adherence to the application guidelines, (2) artistic quality displayed in the work sample, and (3) strength of written materials.

IPOC, LGBTQIA2+, and woman+ peoples are encouraged to apply.

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PARK SQUARE THEATRE. 20 W. Seventh Place, Saint Paul. Ticket Office: 651.291.7005. parksquaretheatre.org

TWO Added Post-Show Talks!

After you see Marie and Rosetta, you are going to want to know more about rock ‘n’ roll icon, Sister Rosetta Tharpe! Here are two opportunities to go deeper into the history and context of this incredible show!

Post-show talks immediately follow an evening performance and are generally 30 minutes long. FREE with ticket purchase.

Purchase Tickets Here!

Saturday, Dec 15: Meet the Playwright. Hear directly from MARIE AND ROSETTA playwright, George Brant*.

Playwright George Brant. Photo by Heidi Bohnenkamp. 2015.

You are invited to a post-show talk with Brant and Park Square’s Artistic Director Flordelino Lagundino.

What goes into telling the story of an important and overlooked historical figure? How does a writer include music into a play’s narrative? What first inspires a play to be written in the first place? Bring your questions, or be ready to be inspired!

Thursday, Dec 20: Sister Rosetta and the Blues Way of Knowing. With Macalester College Assistant Professor of History, Crystal Moten**.

Crystal Moten, Macalester College

Join scholar and educator Crystal Moten to explore how Sister Rosetta navigated the historical and musical context of her time, specifically highlighting the Blues epistemology/way of knowing, and how Sister Rosetta challenged the expected gender roles within the church and in society.

*Playwright George Brant’s work has been developed and produced nationally and internationally. His most notable play, GROUNDED, opened at London’s Gate Theater in 2013, followed by a Julie Taymor-directed production at the Public Theater in 2016. Learn more at http://georgebrant.net/index.html

**Crystal M. Moten joined the Macalester faculty in 2016 and is an Assistant Professor of African American History. She teaches courses on modern African American history with particular emphasis on the following: civil rights, economic justice, women and gender, intellectual history and public history.

Her research interests focus on the intersection of race, class, and gender and specifically she writes about black women’s economic activism in civil rights era Milwaukee. Her work has appeared in the Journal of Civil and Human Rights and a special issue of Souls focusing on the Black women’s work, culture, and politics. Her forthcoming book is entitled This Woman’s Work: Black Women’s Economic Activism in Postwar Milwaukee.

What’s Behind JEFFERSON TOWNSHIP?

Developing a new play – or a MUSICAL – is an exciting and complicated process filled with rewrites, workshops, edits and additions! We asked Keith Hovis, the playwright and composer of Jefferson Township Sparkling Junior Talent Pageant, on stage in June of 2019, to tell us more about the concept and creative process behind this new full-length and still-developing show!

You can hear a full sing-through of the show with Keith and the cast at a Workshop Presentation on November 1st, at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $10 (including a Free Drink!) and are on sale HERE.

#JeffersonSparkle


line illustration of a tiara crown - dark burgundy on bright plum background

I started writing Jefferson Township Sparkling Junior Talent Pageant at one in the morning after I’d hit a massive writer’s block on another project. I had the actors, a director, and a production date (the 2017 Minnesota Fringe Festival), but inspiration was not striking.

Sitting at my keyboard I just started playing music. Four chords over and over, until I heard a chorus. What emerged over the next couple hours was the song, “Sparkling Junior Champion,” in which two former classmates, now in their 30’s, decide to revive their small hometown children’s talent competition.

Leslie Vincent and Kelly Houlehan. Photo by Petronella J. Ytsma.

This absurd premise, serves as the jumping off point for the show. At its core, Jefferson Township is about finding your way when you’ve hit an age where you’re told you should already have a plan in place. It’s about going home – that place where you grew up and helped shape your identity and values – and suddenly realizing you feel like an outsider in your own community. It’s about realizing that success and happiness come in many forms, and sometimes you need to open yourself up to possibilities you never considered before.

It’s a comedic, heartfelt exploration for anyone who has ever felt lost.

A scene from the Fringe Festival production of Jefferson Township Sparkling Junior Talent Pageant.

The original Fringe Festival version was an hour of fast-paced, farce-like comedy, peppered with moments of reflection. Expanding the piece to full length provides an opportunity to flesh out the characters and add more commentary on the pressures we face on a daily basis whether personal, societal, socioeconomic, familial, or generational.

I placed the show in a small town because I don’t feel like that is a population commonly reflected on stage; and when they are depicted, it is often through the lens of being simple, hard-working folk. Growing up, I was fed a narrative that having big dreams and being successful meant having to leave my hometown. It’s only as I’ve gotten older that I realize how false this narrative is.

Even now, as we near the election, I am amazed at all of the think pieces about rural America. What they want and how they might impact who is elected. In a world that has gotten more and more divided, this rural/urban split ignores that fact that no matter where you live, everyone wants to do their best. Have a family, succeed in their career, maybe buy a house, and who knows, possibly retire someday. These wants are universal. The reality is that people are people, no matter where you live. Crazy, right?

Writing Jefferson Township has reinforced how proud I am of where I came from. Yes, even if I still try to avoid awkward conversations with former classmates each time I go back to the Coborn’s in Princeton. I’ll just blame that on being slightly introverted.

It has also made me realize how lucky I am to have found my chosen community here in the cities. My new small-town community tucked in an urban landscape. And even more lucky that a few members of that chosen community, my cast – Zach Garcia, Kelly Houlehan, Ryan London Levin and Leslie Vincent – get to be on the journey of bringing Jefferson Township to Park Square.

Keith with the cast. From left to right: Ryan London Levin, Leslie Vincent, Keith Hovis, Kelly Houlehan, Zach Garcia. Photo by Petronella J. Ytsma.

I am excited to share my musical with Park Square audiences. I hope they laugh and are moved in equal measure. As we head into a public reading of the current draft on November 1, I am looking forward to seeing how people respond. I want the production in June of 2019 to be the best it can be, and I know this feedback will be essential for continued development of the show.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to my keyboard!

Keith Hovis as a playwright and composer based in Minneapolis. He can currently be seen onstage at the Southern Theater in A Morbid History of Sons & Daughters, an original, ensemble-created musical presented as part of the Twin Cities Horror Festival.

Introducing the Godmother of Rock ‘n’ Roll

Introducing the Godmother of Rock 'n' Roll

INTRODUCING THE GODMOTHER OF ROCK ‘N’ ROLL

Local premiere stars Jamecia Bennett and Rajané Katurah Brown

Park Square Theatre announces the area premiere production of Marie & Rosetta by George Brandt, to be directed by Wendy Knox, who directed the early workshops of the play at the Minneapolis-based Playwrights’ Center. Soulful and spirited, this play with music tells the story of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, a 2018 inductee into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame who has become a Facebook sensation with tens of thousands of shares of the vintage video of her playing electric guitar on the street cropping up in feeds for the past several years. Tharpe brought fierce guitar playing and swing to gospel music and went on to influence rock musicians from Elvis to Jimi Hendrix and Ray Charles.

The story begins in a funeral parlor in Mississippi, as Rosetta (played by Jamecia Bennett*) and her young protégé, Marie Knight (played by Rajané Katurah Brown), prepare for a tour that will establish them as a great musical duo. Local musical powerhouses, Bennett and Brown earned rave reviews in THE WIZ at Children’s Theatre Company. In this production, musical director Gary D. Hines from The Sounds of Blackness will help them shape memorable renditions of spirituals like “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?” and “Sit Down,” to distinctly non-religious songs like “I Want a Tall Skinny Papa.”

“Rosetta was a powerhouse musician who had a huge influence on Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, and Etta James, among others,” says director Wendy Knox. “She came to fame as a gospel singer, was a rival of Mahalia Jackson, then crossed over to secular music and was shunned by the church community. She was married several times and maintained a longtime relationship with her musical partner Marie Knight. Under-recognized for her talents (gee, that problem hasn’t gone away, has it?), she had an enormous influence on rock and roll. What a treat to return to this great story in the very year when she finally got her due from the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame!”

The production team for Marie & Rosetta includes Joseph Stanley (Scenic Design); Aaron Chvatal (Costume Design); Robert Dunn (Wig Design); Abbee Warmboe (Properties Design); Michael P. Kittel (Lighting Design); Peter Morrow (Sound Design); Morgan Holmes (Dramaturg); Jared Zeigler* (Stage Manager).

Ticket prices: Previews: $20-$37. Regular Run: $25-$60. Discounts are available for seniors, military personnel, those under age 30, and groups. Tickets are on sale at the Park Square ticket office, 20 W. Seventh Place, or by phone: 651.291.7005, (12 noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday), or online at parksquaretheatre.org.   #PSTMarie&Rosetta

*Member, Actors Equity Association

CALENDAR INFORMATION

Marie & Rosetta

Park Square’s Proscenium Stage

Previews: November 23 – 29, 2018

Opening Night: November 30

Regular Run: November 30  – December 30, 2018

Tickets: Previews: $20-$37; Regular Run: $25-$60

PARK SQUARE THEATRE, 20 W. Seventh Place, Saint Paul

Ticket Office: 651-291-7005 or parksquaretheatre.org

Phtos by Petronella J. Ytsma HERE.

Green 7:30 pm; Orange 2:00pm

P – Preview; B – 99¢ Bargain Preview; D – Post-show Discussion; O – Opening Night; ASL – American Sign Language; AD – Audio Description; C – Open Captioning

2 SUGARS TAKEOVER: It’s Like Real Life, But Funnier!

The Wine Chronicles, Chapter 2: It’s Like Real Life, But Funnier. 

Shanan and Carolyn continue their backstage conversation:

We often remark that the two hours we spend performing a show qualifies as a “totes legit” happy place, because we just get to exist in the world of the play. And “play” becomes a verb as well as a noun. We laugh so often in response to each other’s discoveries and deliveries that people usually wonder what is “real” and what is “the show”?

A little of both, actually. We’ve always written for ourselves, for each other, for aspirational circumstances as well as gritty, very “in the moment” spaces.

But, we like to laugh, too. The very best feeling in the world is knowing you genuinely made someone you care about laugh.

This is what we do offstage too!

And, that brings us to our audience…these people that are coming to see what our brains cooked up and are putting out here on the Andy Boss Stage. A lot of time, our creative process starts with, “Do we think it’s interesting? Does it make us laugh? Maybe it will make someone else laugh too. “

Shanan will often say, the very best sound is “the laugh of recognition.” And, that recognition is probably what makes our show work. One of the greatest compliments we’ve gotten from audiences is “this is just like my life, but funnier”. We love hearing that because it’s exactly what we set out to do. Taking real-life circumstances and finding the uniquely remarkable and hilarious moments and elevating them in the scene. It makes our job really fun. We are so happy you’re here to share it and laugh along with us.

P.S. THE SHOW HAS BEEN EXTENDED!!! The response to Sometime’s there’s Wine has been so wonderfully positive that we’ve added 4 MORE SHOWS! We’re now on stage through Oct 21. Get your tickets now!

Shanan Custer and Carolyn Pool are the 2 Sugars Show and creators of 2 Sugars, Room for Cream, Sometimes There’s Wine (currently running at Park Square Theatre’s Andy Boss Stage) and the upcoming Bad Things, Good Whiskey. When they aren’t performing, they enjoy reading, cheeseburgers, wine and planning their world domination.

 

New Video: Interview with THE AGITATORS

Two Ivey award winning actors, Mikell Sapp and Emily Gunyou Halaas, take on major roles as Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony in The Agitators.

Critics have high praise of this pair. Of their performances, the Star Tribune writes, “beautifully performed… the pair infuse historical material with conviction and pathos.” Rob Hubbard in the Pioneer Press writes, “strong, stubborn, vulnerable and compassionate, Halaas’ Anthony is astonishing. It’s one of the most commanding performances I’ve experienced on a Twin Cities stage this year,” and “Sapp offers a well-drawn portrayal of a man balancing confidence and doubt, hopefulness and regret.” 

Watch this video to hear a bit of these two marvelous actors speaking in their own voices and from their hearts about how this play relates to their lives and what it asks of us today.

The Agitators is on stage through October 28. Get your tickets HERE now!