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“Plotting” out Theatre

Photo of a Zoom screen with 5 performers. Each holds either a drink or a mysterious weapon.

PLOTTING OUT THEATRE DURING THE CORONAVIRUS INTERMISSION
PARK SQUARE ANNOUNCES NEW INTERACTIVE ONLINE MYSTERY

Media Contact – Connie Shaver shaver@parksquaretheatre.org

Saint Paul, Minn., June 23, 2020 – As theatres in Minnesota and around the country face an ongoing “intermission,” Park Square Theatre continues to create projects that keep audiences and artists connected. The latest is RIDDLE PUZZLE PLOT, an online interactive mystery written by acclaimed playwright Jeffrey Hatcher (SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE SUICIDE CLUB; SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE ICE PALACE MURDERS), and directed by Warren C. Bowles (A RAISIN IN THE SUN; MY CHILDREN, MY AFRICA). The theatre would have been producing Hatcher’s play HOLMES AND WATSON on stage this summer, but rather than adapt an existing play that relies on stage tricks for a distanced production, this show is written expressly for the video chat medium. The story begins with an all-too-familiar premise: when a pandemic puts the kibosh on their annual summer scavenger hunt (as well as their acting gigs) a close-knit band of thespians take their game online.  But that is where the familiar ends. When someone winds up dead, the actors – and the audience – have to rush find the killer before the next life gets “disconnected.”  Full of secrets, clues and twisting plotlines the play will be a thrill for mystery lovers and theatre fans alike.

In a nod to classic mystery novels which were often serialized in magazines or newspapers, RIDDLE PUZZLE PLOT will be revealed in four episodes released weekly from July 24 –August 14. Audiences have the choice of streaming the episodes on their own schedule, or zooming in on Friday or Saturday nights for live introductions and post-play discussions (including hints to whodunit) with the cast and playwright, the episodes themselves being pre-recorded. One ticket will invite the ticketholder to all four episodes.

“Taking the summer mystery online in just a few weeks is a fun challenge,” notes Park Square’s executive director Michael-jon Pease. “We couldn’t have better partners than Jeffrey and Warren. Our core audience and new patrons around the country have been so engaged with our online productions – they keep pushing us to serve the mission in every way possible as we all endure the current health crisis.”

In May, Park Square released a Zoom-created production of THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK – acclaimed by the Wall Street Journal – as well as a virtual festival of scenes from plays that will eventually be on stage. A monthly online residency with THE MYSTERIOUS OLD RADIO LISTENING SOCIETY easily transitioned from on stage to online.

The cast for RIDDLE PUZZLE PLOT includes local theatrical favorites: Aimee K. Bryant (A RAISIN IN THE SUN; NINA SIMONE: FOUR WOMEN); Alessandra Bongiardina (ROMEO AND JULIET); Sun Mee Chomet (AUBERGINE); Pearce Bunting* (HOLMES AND WATSON); Shanan Custer (2 Sugars, Room for Cream, SOMETIMES THERE’S WINE); Rudolfo Nieto; and E.J. Subkoviak* (THE RED BOX, MIGHT AS WELL BE DEAD, OF MICE AND MEN).

The production team includes Aaron Fiskradatz (Zoom Technician) and Lizzie Streif* (Stage Manager) *member, actors’ equity association

MORE ABOUT JEFFREY HATCHER:
Jeffrey Hatcher is a local playwright and screenwriter, beloved for home-grown work like the musical GLENSHEEN, with music by Chan Pohling. He wrote the stage play Compleat Female Stage Beauty, which he later adapted into a screenplay. He also co-wrote the stage adaptation of Tuesdays with Morrie with author Mitch Albom, and Three Viewings, a comedy consisting of three monologues – each of which takes place in a funeral home. He wrote the screenplay Casanova for director Lasse Hallström, as well as screenplays for The Duchess (2008); MR HOLMES (2015); and THE GOOD LIAR (2019). 

TICKET PRICES: All tickets $30.

Tickets are on sale at the www.parksquaretheatre.org.  
The ticket office is temporarily closed due to coronavirus. Please email tickets@parkquaretheatre.org with questions.

CALENDAR INFORMATION

Performances:

Friday Night Series: July 24, 31, Aug 7, 14 at 7:30 pm

Saturday Night Series: July 25, Aug 1, 8, 15 at 7:30 pm

Or streaming online through August 16.

Tickets: $30

Ticket office:  www.parksquaretheatre.org

PHOTOS available at https://parksquaretheatre.org/media/photos/

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

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Survey Results: Returning to the Theatre

Park Square misses you – its cherished audience – and is eager to gather with you in the theatre again when it is safe. To help us plan for that day, Park Square asked patrons to take a short survey to share their thoughts about returning to live theatre. The survey also asked about virtual performances – during shut down and as a possible “last minute replacement” when life prevents attending an in-person ticketed performance.

Nearly 500 patrons filled out the survey within hours of receiving it and nearly 1,300 total patrons completed the survey. Below are charts breaking down the responses to the questions we asked, and here are a few high level trends we observed:

  • The percentages didn’t change significantly over the two weeks the survey was live; the responses stayed consistent through the survey period.
  • Comments that related to health and safety precautions showed that patrons want to know that if mask wearing is required, the theatre will strictly enforce it.
  • Additionally, there were several questions about Park Square’s HVAC system (which, fortunately, does adhere to the guidelines about fresh air flow recommended by health guidelines).
  • The theatre was overwhelmed by how Park Square patrons filled the comment section with love – you miss being here with the artists you treasure and you want to make sure Park Square stays strong.

While Governor Walz has “turned up the dial” to allow live entertainment venues in Minnesota to open at 25% capacity, filling only 84 seats isn’t economically viable for Park Square. In addition, we are still working with unions and health professionals on the best ways to protect the health and safety of Park Square artists and backstage crews.

Thank you for letting us know how you are feeling at this moment about a return to live indoor theatre. You mean the world to this theatre and while you are terribly missed, we understand that you can only return when you feel it’s right for you.

You are an important part of Park Square’s ongoing process of evaluating when it will be right to return to the stage. Until then – we’ll see you online and outdoors.

Park Square Theatre Audience Survey Results: Returning the Theatre

#1. Once CDC guidelines allow for indoor gatherings of 100-300 people, when do you think you might personally feel comfortable returning to live theatre?

#2. How likely are you to attend live theatre if wearing a mask is required of all patrons and staff (and assuming all other CDC recommended heath and safety protocols are in place at the theatre)? (1 = Not Likely, 5 = Very Likely)

#3. How likely are you to take advantage of online programming for the rest of this year, regardless of live theatre resuming? (1 = Not Likely, 5 = Very Likely)

#4. If you do take advantage of online theatre events this Summer and Fall, what is your preferred day of the week to attend? (You can select more than one)

#5. Once live theatre re-opens, how likely do you think you would be to make use of a virtual performance or recording as a replacement for seeing a show if you had to miss a limited-engagement performance due to weather, illness, change of your personal schedule, etc.?

Survey conducted through surveymonkey.org and distributed through Park Square Theatre’s email and social media channels.
Survey Originated June 11, 2020.
Total Responses as of June 26, 2020: 1277
For more information regarding the survey results, contact Rachel Wandrei, Marketing Director, at wandrei@parksquaretheatre.org.

Centering Black Theatres – A Response to the Murder of George Floyd

Centering Black Theatres - A Response to the Murder of George Floyd

Dear Friends,

The last week has been a watershed moment for our beloved Twin Cities. With you, we mourn the murder of George Floyd – a man whose voice was taken from him, whose story was cruelly cut short. With you, we grieve for the waves of fear and hatred that have flooded our streets. With you, we witness and celebrate the worldwide uprising of support for Black lives and the outpouring of local support for the communities and neighborhoods that have been devastated.

We also acknowledge the systems that over centuries of pain have worked to keep Black people voiceless, to devalue their stories. 

You rely on Park Square for story, and you have always encouraged us to lift up a multiplicity of voices on our stages. But Park Square can and should do more. In addition to revisiting our Statement of Justice and Equity, we are exploring programs and initiatives to help change hearts and minds in order to bend the arc towards justice in our community.

You have been inspired by many of this community’s leading Black artistic voices and the stories they have shared on Park Square’s stages over the decades. Today, it is time to center the spotlight on the Black-led theater companies and the artists behind them – the root of the Black experience and homes of artists we all love.

In memory of George Floyd’s story, and in light of the forced “intermission” that all theatre companies are enduring, please make a donation to support one or more of these theatre companies to keep their voices strong.

Please follow them online and visit them when their curtains rise again.

#BlackLivesMatter #JusticeForGeorge

Penumbra Theatre creates professional productions that are artistically excellent, thought provoking, and relevant and illuminates the human condition through the prism of the African American experience.

New Dawn Theatre draws brilliance out of shadows by illuminating & supporting cutting edge works of overlooked, under-represented communities of our theatrical landscape through innovative, exciting & excellent theater productions.

Pillsbury House Theatre’s mission is to create challenging theatre that inspires enduring change towards a just society. Through the Mainstage season and other community engagement programs, Pillsbury House Theatre (PHT) illuminates the differences that make each person unique and the similarities that bring people together, within an artistic environment that promotes understanding and leads to positive action.

The Black Ensemble Players seeks to empower Black artists and black communities by fostering Black representation in the theatre.
Donate via PayPal to TheBlackEnsemblePlayers@gmail.com
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Please Note: This is not intended to be a comprehensive listing of all Twin Cities Black theatre companies. 

MORLS Summer Dates Announced

A 1940's radio, the dial is replaced with an image of the god, Pan. In the background are photos of Egyptian pyramids.

THE MYSTERIOUS OLD RADIO LISTENING SOCIETY
 ADDS DATES AND LOWERS TICKET PRICES FOR ONLINE SHOWS

Media Contact
Connie Shaver, shaver@parksquaretheatre.org 

Saint Paul, Minn., May 14, 2020 – After an exciting in-theatre launch earlier this year and now with two sold out online performances under their belt, The Mysterious Old Radio Listening Society at Park Square Theatre is announcing new dates, new ticket prices and increasing the capacity of their virtual forays into old-time radio. With performances necessarily happening online for the foreseeable future, the Society has developed a rotation of lost episodes, original works and literary adaptions. Kicking off on Monday, June 15, the shows will feature live introductions and a post-show discussion along with pre-produced radio shows. “We’ve been seeing people dress up to come to the performances, they really get into it,” notes company member Joshua English Scrimshaw. “We’re thinking of sending out cocktails recipes for drinks featured in the shows, maybe have guest artists from around the country. We can do that now in this online world.”

Every month, the Mysterious Old Radio Listening Society revisits the greatest horror and suspense shows from the golden age of radio. Performed in the style of a classic radio broadcast, each show includes original commercials, eerie music and live sound effects. Asked why they are pre-recording the scripted part of the radio shows, company member Eric Webster commented, “it is taking us approximately five times longer to produce shows this way than it would to do them live, but at the end of the day it is a quality issue. We want to give patrons the best product possible and with the limitations of making a show through Zoom, we can make it so much better with editing.” The company relies heavily on the skills of an online technical specialist, Aaron Fiskradatz, perhaps one of busiest people working in Twin Cities theatre during the pandemic.

Having released lost episodes and original works in their spring shows, the June 15 performance will be the first to feature two never-before-heard audio plays adapted from the pages of classic literature, each presented in the format of a fictional old-time radio show. The first play will be “The Great God Pan” from The Weird Library, adapted by Tim Uren from the novella by Arthur Machen. Young Helen Vaughan is plagued by strange happenings and mysterious deaths. Is she the victim of tragic circumstances or the perpetrator of supernatural crimes? Second will be a classic mystery, “The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb” from A Toast to Murder, adapted by Joshua English Scrimshaw from the short story by Agatha Christie. Belgian detective Hercule Poirot must abandon the logic of his little grey cells and embrace the power of superstition in order to break the terrible curse of Pharaoh Men-her-Ra!

The first two online dates were originally scheduled to be on Park Square’s Andy Boss Thrust Stage, locking in capacity and ticket prices, but with the new dates, built for the coronavirus normal, Park Square is able to increase the number of “seats” and is reducing the ticket price to $15. Ticket holders will be emailed the invitation to a Zoom meeting the morning of the show. “With so much that is uncertain in the world right now, Park Square is excited to be able to share entertaining, meaningful and innovative experiences with a national, and even international audience,” says Park Square’s executive director Michael-jon Pease. The company’s breakout Zoom production of THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK was heralded as “the first Zoom coup de theatre” by the Wall Street Journal and has been streamed from St. Paul to Singapore.

Members of The Mysterious Old Radio Listening Society include local theatrical favorites: Eric Webster (Shade’s Brigade), Shanan Custer (2 Sugars, Room for Cream), Joshua English Scrimshaw (Comedy Suitcase) and Tim Uren (Ghoulish Delights).

MORE ABOUT THE MYSTERIOUS OLD RADIO LISTENING SOCIETY PODCAST:
The Society’s live performances are inspired by the podcast of the same name. The Mysterious Old Radio Listening Society Podcast revisits the great crime, horror and suspense shows from the golden age of radio, including tales from Suspense, Lights Out, Quiet Please, The Shadow, and more. Each episode features a classic, or maybe-not-so classic story from the mysterious old-time radio vault, complete with historical notes and nerdy trivia. At the end of each podcast, your hosts, Tim, Joshua and Eric discuss the merits of the story and decide whether or not it stands the test of time.
Subscribe to The Mysterious Old Radio Listening Society Podcast on iTunes, Youtube, or download episodes directly at ghoulishdelights.com.

MORE ABOUT THE CAST:
Shanan Custer
is half of the 2 Sugars Show (with Carolyn Pool) that includes their Ivey Award winning show 2 Sugars, Room for Cream, their Park Square 2018-2019 season opener hit Sometimes There’s Wine and—coming soon—Bad Things, Good Whiskey. Other original work includes the 2018 MN Fringe Golden Lanyard Winning musical Not Fair, My Lady! (with Colleen Somerville and Anita Ruth).

Joshua English Scrimshaw is the co-founder of the Twin Cities-based all-ages theater company Comedy Suitcase, and the dance and physical comedy troupe English Scrimshaw Theatrical Novelties. Joshua has been called “a clever and inventive voice in Twin Cities comedy theater” by The Star Tribune, and “a modern day Buster Keaton” by mnartists.org. When not making comedy, Joshua enjoys performing and listening to old-time radio with his Mysterious Old Radio Listening Society pals.

Tim Uren has been performing, writing, and directing theater at festivals and small venues in the Twin Cities for over 25 years. Along the way, he has worked with companies such as Theater Pro Rata, the Brave New Workshop, and Theater in the Round. In 2013, he established Ghoulish Delights, a theater company dedicated to bringing tales of horror and suspense to Twin Cities stages. Additionally, Uren has written and designed for board games, including Arkham Horror and Eldritch Horror.

Eric Webster is an actor, producer and writer for stage, radio and television for 25 years. On stage credits include; Guthrie Theater, Park Square Theatre, Artistry Theater, Workhaus Collective, Paul Bunyan Playhouse, Pioneer Place Theater. He also directs Theater and Improv for the Centennial School District. He is the creator of the original radio theater drama Shades Brigade.

MORE ABOUT GHOULISH DELIGHTS:
Ghoulish Delights is a Minneapolis-based theater company that specializes in bringing tales of suspense and horror to the stage. For more information visit ghoulishdelights.com.

TICKET PRICES: All tickets $15.

Tickets are on sale at the www.parksquaretheatre.org.
The ticket office is temporarily closed due to coronavirus. Please email tickets@parkquaretheatre.org with questions.

CALENDAR INFORMATION

Performances: June 15, July 20, August 17.

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

PHOTOS available at https://parksquaretheatre.org/media/photos/

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Have a drink inspired by the show!

Looking forward to the June 15 performance by The Mysterious Old Radio Listening Society?

Here are some cocktail recipes (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) to mix and sip while you listen!

Learn more about the show and buy tickets HERE!


A Chaotic Pairing for “The Great God Pan.”

In Greco-Roman mythology, Pan is the deity who represented chaos in nature and beyond, giving us the word “panic.” While we certainly don’t want to inspire panic, we think this Pan-inspired cocktail may help subside it a bit.

PAN’S CHAOS COCKTAIL
1/2 oz Everclear or the strongest Vodka you can find
1/2 oz Cherry Brandy
1/2 oz Benedictine herbal liqueur
1 oz Bailey’s Irish cream
1 oz heavy cream

1 maraschino cherry

Shake, strain, add the cherry and serve!

For “The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb”

Try these Agatha Christie inspired drinks while you listen to the show! Whether you imbibe or not, these are sure to stimulate your “little grey cells”– à la vôtre!

HERCULE POIROT’S HOT CHOCOLATE 
(from K.J. Barrett’s blog “Literary Lunch”)
2 oz. dark chocolate, grated
1 Tbsp half-in-half
3 cups milk
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp cacao powder
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp cinnamon

A generous pinch of coarse sea salt

In a double-broiler over medium heat, stir half-in-half and grated chocolate until the chocolate is melted. Add milk and stir until thoroughly heated.

In a small bowl, stir together remaining ingredients. When the milk is steaming, whisk in the dry ingredients. Continue gently whisking until the milk begins to thicken. Pour into your favorite cups and enjoy!

Picture of a cup of tea surrounded by chamomile flowers. . . . OR MAYBE JUST A CUP OF CHAMOMILE TEA? 

Poirot loved his tisanes (herbal teas), so feel free to settle in with a lovely spot of tea because, as Christie declares, “Coffee in England always tastes like a chemistry experiment.”

Pro-tip: Poirot preferred his “une tisane” with three spoonfuls of sugar because life is short.

Picture of a creamy green cocktail in a martini glass.And for those who imbibe, may we suggest The King Men-Her-Ra, featuring Poirot’s other favorite beverage Creme De Menthe!

THE KING MEN-HER-RA
30 ml green Creme De Menthe
30 ml White Creme De Cacoa

30 ml Single Cream (or Heavy Cream for those of us not in the UK)

Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker full of ice. Shake, pour, and solve some mysteries!

See you at the show!

Everyday Arts Heroes: Ryan London Levin and Sarah Broude

As people across the world are going into shelter to help others and stay safe themselves, a small group of actors and theatre artists in the Twin Cities are finding a new way of connecting with each other and with the past.

Posterized photo of Anne Frank's character, wearing a green, 1930s style dress and holding a journal

 

Park Square Theatre has been producing the theatrical adaptation of The Diary of Anne Frank, by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, for 20 years, and this spring would have been the 21st. The production was about to open to over 12,000 middle and high school students when Minnesota’s shelter in place orders took effect. While not being able put on a live show, there was a compulsion on the part of the cast and company to produce the play and even find ways to lean in to the resonance between their current experiences of isolation, and that of the characters they play.

When it became clear that there was little chance of being able to assemble to record the staged version, the cast began rehearsing and recording a Zoom interpretation of the play, which, if everything goes according to plan, will be released free of charge for streaming on April 21st, Holocaust Remembrance Day.  With it’s connection to school history and literature curriculums, and a unique timeliness as families experience isolation, the play will benefit students and support educators and parents developing distance learning programs.

For a downloadable e-book of The Diary of Anne Frank, intended for nonprofit educational use, click HERE.
For Park Square Theatre’s study guide, click HERE.
For a the playbill supporting the planned stage production of the play, click HERE.
When the streaming version of the play is available, it will be posted HERE.

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Park Square talked to Ryan London Levin, who plays Peter Van Daan, and Sarah Broude, who plays Miep Gies, about some of their experiences working on this unique production.

Park Square Theatre: Is this your first experience with PST? If not, tell us about your past work with us?  

Sarah Broude: I have participated in many Park Square auditions, and I was in the very first show on the Andy Boss stage, The House on Mango Street, but it is my first season working on The Diary of Anne Frank.

Ryan London Levin: This is my 3rd time being in the Attic but my second Park Square production, the other show was the critically acclaimed original musical comedy Jefferson Township Sparkling Junior Talent Pageant where I played the lovable slacker, Liam Ackerman.

PST: What is the best thing about working on The Diary of Anne Frank?  

SB: This is my first year working on this show, and all the other actors have been there for a really long time. I felt like I had a lot of catching up to do, and these talented people made me feel comfortable and accepted from the get-go. Their kindness really shows through on, and off stage. Anne says she still
believes that people are really good at heart, and this cast lives those words.

RLL: I truly love performing for students. It’s very different from a typical evening audience where the energy of the room is felt very strongly- more thoughts and feelings are blurted out and as an actor it’s very satisfying to receive that immediate visceral reaction. Of course, everything will be different this time. It is challenging for an actor to perform without feedback from a live audience.

Headshot of Actress Sarah Broude. She is white with light brown hair and green eyes. She wears a green shirt.

Sarah Broude

Black and white photograph of Miep Gies.

Miep Gies

PST: Tell us about your character and how rehearsals have further developed your idea of the character you are playing?  How is sheltering in place changing how you understand your character?

SB: Miep was one of the lifelines for the families living in the annex. She risked her own life to bring life to others. It’s not a large role for the actor, but Miep played a huge role to the people she was helping. She is talked about a lot in the show, and how others perceived her gives great insight into deciding how to play her.

As we are hunkered down in our homes due to Covid-19, it’s hard not to see the similarities in our situations. Like the families in the attic, I feel like leaving my home could lead to unknown horrors for me and for the essential workers that don’t have a choice but to leave their homes. But how else do we survive, get food, get fresh air, sunshine, live whole lives? And what does a “whole life” mean in our new situation?

The Franks keep a schedule, and I think this is a big lesson I have learned from this play in our Corona Virus reality. Having a purpose, something to do in a scheduled time frame that is consistent and healthy has been a great help for my anxieties and boredom.

Much like the people living in the attic, I am dependent on outside forces to survive this virus because of my asthma. I have equated my mail person to Miep in many ways. He brings me things I need and things that distract me from what is happening outside, around the world. The deliveries vary from groceries, to a ukulele, to masks sent from friends. Not only does this help me feel safer, it helps me keep a schedule to feel “normal” and productive. I hope I can find a way to repay my Mieps. Maybe the cost is just being kinder to people, they might be someone else’s Miep.

Photo of Anne Frank and Peter Van Daan embracing and looking out at the audience.

Ryan London Levin as Peter Van Daan and Sulia Altenberg as Anne Frank. Photo by Petronella J Ytsma, 2019.

Peter van Pels

RLL: Peter is the only child of the Van Daans (in real life known as the Van Pels). He is very socially awkward (like myself) and would rather spend most of his time in his room playing with his cat, Mouschi (relatable). Since this is my third time rehearsing the show I’ve relaxed into the role in a way that makes the character feel more grounded with the space and the people around him. Every time I do this show I make new discoveries with Peter and always look for new interactions with other actors on stage- when we all work together and find moments that really land- that’s what makes the show fun to perform! It should also be noted that man playing Mr. Otto Frank is my father in real life and its fun to perform in this show with him.

PST: How does this show connect to the world today? Or Why is it important to keep telling this story?

SB: I think Diary is such an important story to tell, and seems to get more and more important as the years go by. I think humans need helpful reminders from time to time, if we forget the mistakes we have made in the past, we are doomed to repeat them.

RLL: I hope that students can make the connection that Anne’s story is one that is also happening today. The people in that attic are illegal immigrants escaping the persecution of their government. Students should know that what the German government did to Jewish people was completely legal, the man in power created those laws and court systems that made being Jewish a crime. On top of that he would refer to them as scum and animals. We’ve see this with our Latinx, Muslim, Somali, Black and African-American, and LGBTQ+ communities. It is not just in other countries but here in America. That’s just some of the example and I hope kids can make those connections, even during the pandemic that currently eclipses other issues.

PST: Tell us what rehearsing and filming through Zoom has been like for you as a performer?

SB: Rehearsing and recording this play from home has been as surreal as it has been comforting. Working as much as I can from home is very important for my mental and physical health. I had already set up an area in my home to rehearse and record, The Diary of Anne Frank is the second play I have done from home since we went into quarantine. But this show is a little different than Silent Sky because we are recording the show scene by scene, rather than a live Zoom performance. I think this was a wonderful decision, as it makes it easy for the educational audiences to pull up specific parts as needed through their curriculum. But I am also thrilled that regular audiences will be able to see it as well!

We are very lucky to be living in an age where we are able to use technology like this, and have options on how to present performance art on a number of different platforms. I can’t wait to get on stage again, but I am grateful for these opportunities to continue to be creative, and to be a part of this very important story.

Instagram post by Ryan London Levin. "My make shift costume for the "Diary of Anne Frank" over zoom. The show is still incredibly powerful (and then some) with all of us isolated. Cutting out my own yellow star with old material from my house was a strange experience."

Instagram post by Ryan London Levin. April 13, 2020.

PST: Tell us about some of the design elements in the show, and how they inform your work? 

RLL: A good portion of our cast has actually been to the real Anne Frank house. The real attic space is actually bigger then the space we use onstage – the designer wanted the stage to feel cramped to capture the feeling of how limited the living space was. When staging the show it becomes a very complicated dance between the actors and ALL of the props.

Now we’re all working from home and finding things we can use in our houses to create costumes and props as well as backgrounds that don’t hide the fact that we’re in isolation, but don’t take a way from the play itself. It was a very strange experience to cut out my own yellow star.

Everyday Arts Hero: Julie Ann Nevill

While theatres across the country and the globe are closed due to COVID-19, Park Square is taking an opportunity to share the stories of some of the hardworking and brilliant people who make the art possible. Come along with us to celebrate #EverydayArtsHeroes.

Julie Ann Nevill
Actor playing Mrs Van Dann in The Diary of Anne Frank

Photo of smiling woman- Julie Ann Nevill. She is white with brown eyes and curly strawberry-blonde hair.

2020 marks the 20th year that I have been involved with the production of The Diary of Anne Frank at Park Square. I first joined the show in 2000, and at that time I was playing Miep and was the understudy for Mrs. Van Daan. I played Miep for 1 ½ years, and then moved into the role of Mrs. Van Daan. I have also acted in Ten Little Indians, Lady Windermere’s Fan, Melville Slept Here, and Dracula at Park Square Theatre.

There have been so many funny, crazy, strange things that have happened through the years and many different shows I’ve been a part of. One of the funniest during The Diary of Anne Frank was during a year when the Van Daan’s mattress was actually an air mattress. It had deflated a little throughout the week, so when I was laying on it, Mr. Van Daan sat down and the shift in the air sort of launched me off of the bed. No one really saw it but us, but we found it very funny…we still giggle about it.

The rehearsal process enables we actors to find ways to differentiate between our characters and the Frank family characters. In the script, the Van Daan’s come from a background of money, material things, and the like. Through the many years, we have had a chance to come at the characters from a variety of different angles. Sometimes we focus more on the conflict between people, sometimes we look for more chances to show the love between them. Then we can mesh those ideas together to see what comes of that. Every new thing we try creates a new, fresh experience for us, and the audience.

The best thing about working on The Diary of Anne Frank is having the privilege of keeping this important story out in the forefront. Even today, in our very own country, anti-Semitism is on the rise. False statements about Jewish people, and anti-Semitic tropes are being thrown about by even our leaders in government. White Supremacy groups have been emboldened, and have increased their public presence and their hateful actions. This is a dangerous path that must not be followed, and people need to be made aware of it. Those who forget their history are doomed to repeat it. This is why it is so important to continue this show. And, there are so many messages that apply to our lives.

Scene from The Diary of Anne Frank with the family cathered for the first night of Hanukkah. There is a menorah on the table and they are exchanging gifts.

Scene from 2018 production of THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK. From left: Julie Ann Nevill, Sulia Altenberg, Leslie Vincent, Michael Paul Levin, Laurie Flanigan Hegge. PC: Petronella J Ytsma.

Often students will ask “what are WE supposed to take away from this? What are WE supposed to do?” I ask them to reflect – how many times do you see fellow students being bullied and singled out because they are different; a different religion, a person of color, an immigrant, a different sexual orientation? In those times, I hope that the story of Anne Frank gives you the courage of people like Miep and Mr. Kraler; the courage to stand up and say “No”. I hope this gives you the courage to step in and say, “This isn’t right. This needs to stop.” Young people are the future. Young people have a voice in how the world can change for the better. You can BE the change you want to see in the world.

More and more I cling to Anne’s words, “In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart”.

COCKTAILS FOR SPRING MISCHIEF AT HOME!

We may not be together, but we can still raise a glass to springtime!

Park Square’s Front of House Manager, Jiffy Kunik, and Executive Director, Michael-jon Pease have whipped up these spring cocktails to inspire your time away from the theatre. Don’t have the exact ingredients? Use what you have and be creative!

Join us Monday, March 30, for an online cocktail party and online auction kick-off, or just sip one of these when you need something refreshing.

Chambord spritz

1.5 oz Chambord liqueur
4 oz dry white wine
Top with soda water
Take a large wine glass and fill it up with ice.
Add Chambord, white wine and soda.

Spring Breeze

1 oz Vodka
1/2 oz St Germain
½ oz Lemon juice and lemon twist
Top with Champagne in a flute

Mischief Maker (a slightly simpler version of a Seelbach)

1 oz Bourbon
½ oz Cointreau
7 dashes orange Bitters
Top with Champagne in a coupe or a flute

Spring Rose (enough for 6 of your stay at home family members)

12 oz Lillet Rose
12 oz Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice
6 oz Gin
Combine in a cocktail shaker with 3 ice cubes, shake, then divide into 6 flutes or coupes

COVID-19 Information — FOR EDUCATORS

To our invaluable educators,

With the governor’s decision to close schools in order to prepare for online learning, Park Square Theatre is working to innovate and meet your curriculum needs. At this point we are assuming that you cannot attend and are not planning on resuming productions until schools reopen.

We are planning to film our productions of The Diary of Anne Frank and Romeo and Juliet in order for your students to view them remotely. We are also working to offer you interactive live discussions with the artists. Without the need to get back on a bus, we can extend these interactions well beyond what we could offer you in the theatre itself.

There is also availability later in the run for both productions if you would like to move your tickets. I understand that we do not yet know how long the school closure will last and what ability you will have for field trips when it ends, but it is an option while seats remain.

We can extend credit toward next year’s field trip. Both The Diary of Anne Frank and Romeo and Juliet return in Spring of 2021.

If you have not sent in payment for your show, we can simply cancel your order. If you have paid and cannot make any of the above options work, we will do our best to issue a refund as swiftly as possible.
Like all of us, Park Square is responding to this situation moment by moment and needing to pivot our plans on a daily basis. The theatre has already contracted and paid artists, built sets, and completed rehearsals for these shows in preparation for field trips that were to start this week.

Thank you for the work you are doing! We are moving forward as your partner in delivering inspiration and insight to your students — at the theatre or virtually.

Sincerely,
Michael-jon Pease, Executive Director
Connor M McEvoy, Education Manager

An update on Park Square’s response to COVID-19 — FOR ALL COMMUNITY MEMBERS

To our Park Square Community,

In the hardest of times, you look to our shared humanity to find new sources of resilience and inspiration. While Park Square is suspending programming to support your health and the safety of the greater community, you are also inspiring innovative ways to continue to fulfill Park Square’s vital mission.

Your health will be protected in line with the latest CDC and Minnesota Department of Health recommendations through the following program changes:

  • The Mysterious Old Radio Listening Society — Jun 15, Jul 20, Aug 17. Online! The Golden age of Radio becomes the Golden Age of Live Stream! Enjoy new recordings by the MORLS cast of lost radio episodes along with live introductions and a post-show discussion. Learn More.
  • Marie and Rosetta — Postponed. This powerful hit musical will be a part of the next season.
  • Holmes and Watson — Postponed. This delightful mystery will now be on stage next summer, from July 9- Aug 15,  2021.
  • Please check back regularly for updates. Ticket holders will be contacted as soon as dates are solidified. Thank you for your understanding.

Past Events:

  • The Diary of Anne Frank. Online through May 24. While this global crisis prevented more than 16,000 students from attending performances of The Diary of Anne Frank and Romeo and Juliet, Park Square is finding new ways to share this powerful and important story. View the special Zoom production of the play at www.parksquaretheatre.org/diaryonline. “The most stirring staging of ‘Anne Frank’ I have ever seen.”Wall Street Journal
  • Spring Mischief Gala — Mar 30. Postponed. Ticket holders will be informed of a later date. Thank you to everyone who participated in the Online Auction!
  • Romeo and Juliet — Apr 4. Cancelled. This classic will return in 2021 and we encourage patrons to see it next season! A film version of the 2015 production is being made available for students.

Your kindness and generosity make Park Square possible. By acting today, you can assure that the theatre thrives during these hard times.

You have these options for your cancelled performances:

  • Donate your tickets — Park Square has already invested in the shows that are postponed or cancelled, including paying local artists through April. You can help offset those costs by turning your ticket into a tax-deductible donation.
  • Exchange your tickets to another performance (we’ll all need a night out when this is over!)
  • Receive credit for the value of your tickets for future use — including the 2020-2021 Season.
  • Receive a refund. Refunds will be processed after the global pandemic has subsided.

Your love of live theatre and your generous support will protect Park Square during this unprecedented time.

Your Park Square artists are with you in spirit. We all look forward to the day when you return to the theatre for a feast of joy, fun, music and mystery. Thank you for your continued trust in and passion for Park Square.

All my best,
Michael-jon Pease
Executive Director

Tickets

To ensure the health and safety of Park Square patrons and staff, the ticket office is temporarily closed for in-person and phone service.

Please email tickets@parksquaretheatre.org, or buy online anytime.

If you leave a message at 651.291.7005, please leave an email address where you can be reached.

Thanks, and stay well!

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