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Official Proclamation: Richard Cook Day in the City of Saint Paul

We celebrate Richard Cook as he is honored by an official proclamation by Mayor Melvin Carter, announcing Thursday, September 6th, 2018, to be Richard Cook Day in the City of Saint Paul!

The announcement coincides with the opening of an exhibition at the Landmark Center celebrating Cook’s 43 year legacy of leading Park Square Theatre. Learn More Here.


Read the official proclamation:


WHEREAS, as a result of Richard Cook’s vision, dynamic leadership and faith in the value of  the arts to develop a community, Park Square Theatre has provided a vibrant home for artists and audiences since 1975; and

WHEREAS, during those 43 years, Richard has served Park Square Theatre as an artist, Development Director, Artistic Director and Chief Strategist; and

WHEREAS, under Richard’s leadership, Park Square Theatre has grown to become the East Metro’s premier regional theatre, with two performing spaces and an award winning education program which inspires more than 30,000 middle and high school students from every corner of the state annually; and

WHEREAS, Richard has designed and built theatre spaces in the Park Square Court Building, the Jemne Building and the Historic Hamm Building, including the 2014 construction of the Andy Boss Thrust Stage; and

WHEREAS, Richard has produced 350 plays that have engaged more than 1.3 million audience members, and  as a volunteer has led Saint Paul Cultural STAR Board, and helped develop the Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists; and

WHEREAS, Richard has commissioned and brought to Saint Paul important world premier plays from Minnesota artists including William Randall Beard, Christina Ham, Jeffery Hatcher, Joseph Goodrich, Thomasina Petrus, Matt Sciple and Lee Blessing and Austene Van; and 

WHEREAS, Richard has given every Saint Paul citizen the chance to have a place at the theatrical table by continually making Park Square’s stages a platform for diverse artists and all of this community’s stories, and by continually striving to maintain affordable ticket prices through 99 cent ticket prices and other means; and

WHEREAS, Richard is retiring in September, 2018 after a long and successful career, leaving – through Park Square Theatre – a dynamic legacy of civic, cultural and educational enrichment;

Now, Therefore, I, Melvin Carter, Mayor of the City of Saint Paul, do hereby proclaim Thursday, September 6, 2018, to be:

Richard Cook Day 

In Witness Whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the City of Saint Paul to be affixed this Twenty-Sixth Day of April in the Year Two Thousand Eighteen

Melvin Carter, Mayor

Unpacking a Theatre Attic

Unpacking a Theatre Attic

New Landmark Center Exhibition Explores Park Square Theatre’s First 43 Years

MEDIA CONTACT

Connie Shaver, shaver@parksquaretheatre.org

Saint Paul, Minn., July 25, 2018 – Park Square Theatre announces UNPACKING A THEATRE ATTIC: Park Square Theatre’s First 43 Years, a new exhibition at Landmark Center in downtown Saint Paul that will run September 6– 30, 2018. Richard Cook, who has worked at Park Square Theatre since its first season in 1975, is literally “going through the trunks” to choose images and mementoes from every one of the theatre’s 350 productions. The exhibit will be arranged thematically to explore Park Square’s staggering range of programming, from Shakespeare to mysteries to world premieres. The exhibition is free and open to the public.

Two special events will bookmark the month-long exhibition. The first will be a gala retirement party at 5:30 p.m. on September 6 to toast Cook’s long career as a Twin Cities theatre leader. The second will be the official welcome for Park Square’s new artistic director, Flordelino Lagundino, at 5:30 p.m. on September 26. The public is invited to both events, but RSVPs are required. Please email lchristensen@parksquaretheatre.org.

“Talk about ‘this is your life’ – the process of curating this exhibit has been an unbelievable dive into our history,” says Richard Cook. “So many moments of great work by artists and plays that I loved have washed over me every time I’ve opened a file or box. It’s also been interesting – and sometimes instructive – to read old reviews and think ‘I don’t remember that experience that way at all’ or ‘Yes! That was a fine moment and even the critics agreed!’”

Richard Cook, outgoing artistic director

Many boxes of Park Square’s archives are now stored at the Performing Arts Archives at the University of Minnesota’s Elmer L. Andersen Library. The Performing Arts Archives was established in 1971 by the University of Minnesota Libraries for the preservation and study of the records relating to Minnesota’s rich history of theatre, music, dance, and associated organizations. Its goal is to document as fully as possible the activities of individuals and groups in both professional and amateur performing arts throughout the state. The collections include the most important companies in each of the major arts fields.

Still more important documents have been in the basement office in the Historic Hamm Building that Richard has occupied for the last quarter century – and of course the stray items that landed in his apartment in Saint Paul’s Lowertown. “In 1980 when I took the torch as artistic director from founder Paul Mathey and my husband Steven became managing director, we kept pretty consistent records. But the first five years of the company’s history, and its pre-Park Square life as the Smith Park Gallery performance space and then Variety Hall Theatre, are largely undocumented,” admits Cook. “It’s important to me to organize and make all the notes I can to honor the innovators like Paul who were creating the first Lowertown arts scene in the 1970s.”

Set construction for Marat Sade, 1979.

“We started in the Park Square Court building as a small performance space at the end of the Smith Park art gallery. Artists put on poetry readings and raw, new performance work – almost like an early version of Patrick’s Cabaret,” Cook remembers. “There was a pottery studio and an astrological bookstore in the building, and MPR had its first tiny studio on the ground floor. Today’s artistic energy feels so much like that era.  Artists are creating new companies out of sheer grit and vision, often with a desire to protest injustice and change systems. I am inspired by the ways the new generation of artistic leaders – like our incoming artistic director Flordelino Lagundino – are building on those 1970s foundations. For this exhibit, I hope those who have grown up in the local theatre community find their special Park Square memories – stories that moved them, productions that built lifelong friends and shaped careers, and artists we’ve all treasured on our stages and elsewhere. I also hope those new to Park Square or the Twin Cities find inspiration for the future. It’s been a great ride and I can’t wait to see where it goes next.”

Exhibit Details:

Presenting sponsor:

Unpacking a Theatre Attic: Park Square Theatre’s First 43 Years

A New Exhibition at Landmark Center, September 3 – 30, 2018

Landmark Center (North Gallery off the 6th Street entrance)

75 5th St W, Saint Paul, MN 55102 · (651) 292-3233

Park Square’s NINA SIMONE: FOUR WOMEN takes to Stages Around the Country

Local star Regina Williams heads to Atlanta for a new production.

Nina Simone: Four Women at Park Square Theatre, 2017

Regina Marie Williams in NINA SIMONE: FOUR WOMEN at Park Square Theatre. PC: Petronella J. Ytsma.

MEDIA CONTACT

Connie Shaver, shaver@parksquaretheatre.org

Following the success of its world premiere commission at Park Square Theatre in 2016, NINA SIMONE: FOUR WOMEN went on to a second production at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., one of the nation’s top regional theatres last year. This month, Regina Marie Williams, who originated the title role at Park Square, and in fact inspired the commission of the play, heads to Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre in Atlanta to star in a new production that will play September 25-Oct 21, 2018. While True Colors is a natural home for this dynamic play, which broke box office records for Park Square’s Andy Boss Stage, there is also a strong link between the theatres through Jamil Jude, who was Park Square’s Artistic Programming Associate during both Saint Paul runs of the play, and he is now Kenny Leon’s Associate Artistic Director.

Williams shared her excitement for the role, “Sometimes Nina’s voice would be warm and soothing, other times angry and harsh, and then light and sweet. Her voice, her music, made me feel.” She added, “Over the years I have performed in musicals and plays, comedy and tragedy, Shakespeare and Wilson. The variety has been a gift and will be an asset when working to access the brilliance, the vulnerability, the self-righteousness, the humanity, and the Goddess in Nina.”

Playwright Christina Ham

The play is gaining speed around the country with upcoming productions at Northlight Theatre outside of Chicago, Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte, NC and The Black Rep in St. Louis. Its writer, local artist Christina Ham, is enjoying a banner year. She is a Core Writer at the Playwrights’ Center, and the Mellon Foundation Playwright in Residence at Pillsbury House Theatre and a writer on the Netflix horror series The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.

Inspiring A New Generation of Agitators

Local premiere is the nation’s second production of timely new script by Playwrights’ Center Core Writer Mat Smart

Emily Gunyou Halaas (Susan B. Anthony) and Mikell Sapp (Frederick Douglass). PC: Petronella J. Ytsma.

MEDIA CONTACT

Connie Shaver, shaver@parksquaretheatre.org

Park Square Theatre announces the regional premiere production of THE AGITATORS by Mat Smart, a core writer of the Minneapolis-based Playwrights’ Center. The play, which examines the tempestuous friendship of women’s rights advocate Susan B. Anthony and civil rights activist Fredrick Douglass, was commissioned by Geva Theatre in Rochester, New York, where the two giants of history first became friends. Park Square’s production of this timely play, only the second in the nation, will play on the Park Square Proscenium Stage from September 21 to October 28, 2018. Weekday matinees for schools will be offered on Oct 16, 17, 23, 24, Signe V. Harriday, who last directed Park Square’s production of CARDBOARD PIANO – and incidentally just won gold in synchronized swimming at the Gay Games in Paris — will direct. The production features Emily Gunyou Halaas* as Anthony and Mikell Sapp* as Douglass.

Director Signe V. Harriday

“When I read this script, I was immediately struck by its timeliness,” said Park Square Executive Director Michael-jon Pease. “Through an historic lens, it hits directly at the intersectionality of feminism and civil rights and the relationship between modern agitators leading the Women’s March on Washington and Black Lives Matter. 2020 brings the centenary of the 19th Amendment, which makes the play feel all the more contemporary.”

The play is constructed as a series of powerful vignettes set largely in the Northeast, beginning with the first meeting between Anthony and Douglass in the 1840s. Douglass, who was born a slave, faced prejudice and violence in his fight for passage of the 15th Amendment giving black citizens the right to vote. He spoke in Winona and Saint Paul during his campaign to change the constitution. His pride and joy was his wife, Anna, and their five children.

In contrast, the never-married Anthony, meanwhile, born into a Quaker household, was a driving force in the women’s suffrage cause, advocating for all people despite race, gender or class. The two had respect and affection for each other, but their relationship was never without its moments of bickering and tension. In one pivotal scene, Douglass and Anthony engage in a head-to-head disagreement on the constitutional amendment during the 1869 American Equal Rights Association meeting. Each took money from known opponents of the other’s cause, but each buoyed the other personally and professionally.

Myra Bradwell, founder for the Chicago Legal News and women’s rights activist.

Park Square will partner with the Hamline University Center for Justice and Law on two free public programs related to the show, which will be given by Leondra M. Hanson, J.D., Associate Professor, Legal Studies Department Chair, and Director of Graduate Legal Education. The first program, from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, September 11, is  Behind the Scenes: Bradwell v. Illinois about the late 19th Century legal reformer Myra Bradwell, who founded the Chicago Legal News and fought for the right for women to practice law. This program will provide CLE credits for those in the legal profession. Learn More and RSVP.

The second program will be offered at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, October  4 and is called Life, Love & Activism:  America’s First female lawyers. Learn More and RSVP.

Post-show discussions with the cast will be offered on Wednesday, September 27 and Sunday, October 7.

The production team for THE AGITATORS includes Sarah Brandner (Scenic Design); Bill Cottman (Video Design); Aaron Chvatal (Costume Design); Robert Dunn (Wig Design); Abbee Warmboe (Properties Design); Michael P. Kittle (Lighting Design); Christy Johnson (Sound Design); Peter Rachleff (Dramaturg); Lyndsey Harter* (Stage Manager); Haley Walsh (Assistant 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 www.parksquaretheatre.org.   #PSTAgitators

*Member, Actors Equity Association

 CALENDAR INFORMATION

Previews: September 21-27, 2018

Opening Night: September 28

Regular Run: September 28 – October 28, 2018

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

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

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

Green: 7:30pm, 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

Wine, Women, and…Questionable Text Messages

Local comedy duo creates a “large pour” of laughter in SOMETIME’S THERE’S WINE

MEDIA CONTACT

Connie Shaver, shaver@parksquaretheatre.org

Park Square Theatre announces the return of renowned Twin Cities comedy duo, Shanan Custer and Carolyn Pool, to the Andy Boss Stage to open the 2018-2019 theatre season with a new production of Sometimes There’s Wine (Sept 14 – Oct 14, 2018). The follow-up to 2 Sugars, Room for Cream, which was featured in the debut season of the Boss Stage in 2014, is written and performed by Custer and Pool who are both Park Square audience favorites.  Both were featured in CALENDAR GIRLS and Pool opened last season on the Boss Stage in HENRY & ALICE: INTO THE WILD. Angela Timberman, featured in the 2016 production of THE REALISTIC JONESES by Will Eno, makes her Park Square directing debut.

The play’s debut at the 2016 Fringe Festival was a favorite for both critics and audiences, winning the coveted Fringe Encore.

“In the era of #MeToo, we feel women-driven comedy has a unique role to play,” says Custer. “Creating roles for women that say the things we normally don’t get to hear onstage is why we do what we do and, after the last couple of years, there’s even more to say.”

The production team for Sometimes There’s Wine includes Sadie Ward (Scenic Design); Michael P. Kittle (Lighting Design); Eric Webster (Sound Design); Megan Fae Dougherty* (Stage Manager); Kyla Moloney (Assistant 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 www.parksquaretheatre.org.   #PSTWine #2SugarsShow

*Member, Actors Equity Association

CALENDAR INFORMATION

Previews: Sept 14-20

Opening Night: Sept 21

Regular Run: Sept 21-Oct 14

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

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

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

 

 

Green: 7:30 pm, Orange:  2:00 pm

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

Sneak a Peek Backstage!

With more than 50 scene shifts and countless fast-paced costume changes, Baskerville is a play on the move. Yet for all its vibrant set pieces and stylish getups, the audience only ever sees a percentage of the stage. What goes on behind the curtain? Stage manager Laura Topham and assistant stage manager Sam Diekman took us on a tour to explain the whirlwind process that makes a show like this all possible.

Image of Stage Manager Laura Topham

Stage Manager Laura Topham

“The stage manager is the only person who sees the show truly from start to finish – through its whole evolution,” Topham explains, “from the first production meeting to closing.” They’re the ones responsible for making the magic happen: for facilitating and maintaining the directors’ vision.

Image of Assistant Stage Manager Samantha Diekman

Assistant Stage Manager Samantha Diekman

That all-encompassing vision and dedication is invaluable, as every night, it’s the stage crew responsible for the show going off without a hitch. “If everyone else can do their job well,” Diekman says, “then I’ve done my job well.”

Baskerville in particular – with its rapid-fire comedy and breakneck pace – was a challenge. Among the moody shadows behind the stage is a maze of sets – so many that they can’t all be stored in the backstage area at once. Instead, the crew must swap out the set pieces between acts, meaning that more than many shows, the crew is working nonstop. They’re constantly moving behind the scenes, planning – and adapting – to best support the actors. But it was a challenge the team rose to immediately. The crew knew things would go wrong – and that they’d have each others’ backs when they did.

“Just having that attitude and that dedication across the board is what makes it worth it to me,” Diekman says. “If we’re not loving it and we’re not having fun, no matter how hard it is, why are we doing it?”

And seeing the show night after night (more than 25 times, according to Topham) is its own reward. “There are spots where I laugh every single night.” And with such a fun team to work with, it’s just elementary: Baskerville is an adventure both onstage and off.

Tickets still available for the final weekend.  Purchase them HERE. 

Want more? Watch the video tour: Backstage with Baskerville.

Tara Henderson is a marketing intern with Park Square Theatre and is currently studying at the University of Minnesota.

Connecting through Storytelling

When you’re young, most people grow up hearing the old adage “listen to your elders!” After all, they’re the ones with the best advice and the life wisdom, so why not? Though somewhere along the line, technology was introduced into our lives and now we have so much information at our fingertips, listening to our elders has sadly become a rare activity.  Thanks to the brilliant guidance of teaching artist Dane Stauffer, a group of older adults were able to come together for eight weeks, discover and craft an important story of their own, and ultimately perform that story for a captive audience of friends, family, and wisdom-seekers at Park Square. This was Park Square’s first foray into adult learning, and took place with support from the Vitality Arts program at Aroha Philanthropies.

I was lucky enough to follow the group from their shy, tentative introductions with one another to the culminating event, which involved a proud, confident performance in front of a live audience. Seniors who had come from all walks of life in a previous lifetime – engineers, teachers, managers, computer technicians – now retired. I had no idea how much I could relate to their journey at 32. I, too, ask the questions, “what do I want to be when I grow up?” and “what now?” or “what’s next?” These were all asked during that first introduction and continued through some of their stories; where one chapter ended, another was clearly beginning with endless possibilities in sight.

There are three things I’ve learned in the last two months from listening to these great individuals. 1.) Every story is important. Stories that make you laugh are just as powerful and meaningful as those that can bring you to tears. 2.) Never be afraid to tell your story. Words are only as good as the audience that take them in and an untold story can never truly be appreciated. 3.) Listen and experience every story older adults are willing to share. You’ll be surprised at the connections you can make with each other through storytelling.

The next Adult Theatre Workshop, Make ’em Laugh: Comedy Styles and Performance, is Sept 7 – Nov 5, taught by the inimitable Shanan Custer (Calendar Girls, The Liar, Sometimes There’s Wine). Space is limited, so register now! Click here for more information and registration.

 

Lindsay Christensen Park Square’s Group Sales Associate and a fierce freelance stage manager and graduate student pursuing a degree in Arts and Cultural Management at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. 

Eli Sherlock Sets the Stage

Yew Alley at Baskerville Hall
(White model by Eli Sherlock)

Who better to design the set for Park Square Theatre’s production of Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery than Sherlock himself–that is, Scenic Designer Eli Sherlock (née Schlatter)? Using his impressive powers of deduction, Eli had to solve the tricky puzzle of how to set the stage to accommodate 31 scenes covering 18 locations. But anyone who’d caught a glimpse of Eli’s clever, wholly two-dimensional set design for last season’s comedy, The Liar, at Park Square knows that, without a doubt, Eli was definitely up to the challenge.

The moors at night
(White model by Eli Sherlock)

However, his task wasn’t for the faint of heart, requiring a relentlessly methodical approach. Eli combed the script for details: What’s the time period? What are all the scenic locations? How are they utilized? He did exhaustive research: What does the Manor of Manaton (a.k.a. Baskerville Manor) and its surrounding moors, thought to have inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to write The Hound of the Baskervilles, look like? What are the dimensions of the Proscenium stage to ensure that his design would fit and function well? Basically, as Director Theo Langason cracked open the script, Eli read it and began to determine so many of the choices that had to be made.

But one of the closest relationships for a set designer is with the director, who carries the vision for the play. Theo added his influence on Eli’s design via input on such matters as how to possibly incorporate puppetry into a key scene, whether the run crew who moves the set pieces should be visible or not, how the set design could contribute to the play’s comedic elements yet also make it feel spooky and scary and much more.

Set Designer Eli Sherlock

Eli’s training has, in fact, taught him how to manipulate how the audience feels. For instance, Holmes’ area tends to be on stage right for a good reason. Everything on the set–whether wallpaper pattern or color scheme–subliminally tells the story.

“It’s a fast process,” Eli said about set design. “On and off, I’m thinking for a couple of months, then creating the set for a couple of weeks. But the set has to be figured out before rehearsals start so the director can do the blocking.”

This heady combination of collaboration and creativity is what excites Eli about his chosen profession. His greatest thrill is to have created something that an audience hasn’t seen before and cause an unexpected reaction to a space.

“In Baskerville, new stuff will be popping up all the time,” said Eli. “And my hope is for the audience to wonder, ‘How did they do that?!?!'”

Then perhaps he’d flash a sly grin and reply, “It’s elementary . . . .”

Baskerville is on stage now through August 5! Tickets and information here.

Marika Proctor: the Pride of Saint Paul

McKenna Kelly-Eiding, Marika Proctor, and Ricardo Beaird. Photo by Petronella J. Ytsma

While this may be her first foray on the Park Square stage, Marika Proctor is no stranger to the Saint Paul playhouse, having been born and raised in the capital. Like so many actors, however, she’s experienced her fair share of travels – attending the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington and more recently, the professional actor training program at the Actors Theatre of Louisville in Kentucky, home to the world-renowned Humana Festival of New American Plays, where she was featured in the play, You Across From Me.

This summer, however, Proctor returns to Minnesota and is excited to share the wild adventure of Baskerville with her home audiences. As for what they come away with Proctor says, ” I hope they feel they’ve had an excellent night of theater — imaginative and creative and satisfying.”

Those three words encapsulate the Ken Ludwig play, first performed in 2015, but making it’s Minnesota premiere at Park Square. For her part, Proctor is one of three actors tasked with the feat of portraying close to forty different characters! She is thrilled by how the play relishes the sense of fun and mystery.

I’m really excited by the sense of play that Theo’s [Langason, Director] brought to the room—I’ll definitely keep this in mind as I figure out how to jump from character to character to character.

Marika Proctor

It’s that sense of play and challenge that Proctor brings to all of her roles. Past Twin Cities’ credits include One Man, Two Guvnors at Yellow Tree Theatre where Lavender Magazine said, “Marika Proctor teases and delights in a crossgender turn.” She has worked with Savage Umbrella and several shows with Classical Actors Ensemble, including the direction of a Comedy of Errors that garnered positive reviews from the Star Tribune and City Pages.

With such a rich and varied background in the theatre, what else could Proctor possibly do to fill her time? She says she writes part time for a consulting firm specializing in archaeology, cultural planning and exhibit development for museums and national parks. If variety is the spice of life, then Proctor is doing something right!

You can come along for the ride too when you see her in Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery at Park Square this summer! The show runs now until August 5, so don’t wait!

McKenna Kelly-Eiding, Marika Proctor. Photo by Petronella J. Ytsma

New Video: The Women of BASKERVILLE

New Video: The Women of BASKERVILLE

Women have been winning over Holmes fans in recent years, and in our current production Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery, Park Square is continuing the conversation with women playing both Sherlock Holmes and John Watson.

Here is a sneak peak of this perfectly contrasting pair. As Lisa Brock in the Star Tribune writes, “McKenna kelly -Eiding perfectly embodies Holmes’ authoritative manner and sly condescension while Sara Richardson, one of the Twin Cities’ finest clowns, delivers a delightfully wide-eyed Dr. Watson.” Director Theo Langason shares what changes it took (or didn’t) to adapt the play for these two fine actors!

The game is afoot, hilariously! Get your tickets now to see these two in action for yourself!

Tickets and Information Here.

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