Press Release

OF EQUALITY World Premiere Nov 19-21

Katha Dance Theatre Announces World Premiere of New Cross-Cultural Collaboration with J.D. Steele

At left, photo of several women dancing in classical Indian gowns. At right, a photo of J.D. Steele.

At left, KDT performers onstage. At right, J.D. Steele. Photo credits L to R: Ashwin Chopra, John Wagner.

Crystal, MN – Katha Dance Theatre (KDT) has announced the world premiere of Shaamya – Of Equality, their latest collaboration with composer J.D. Steele. The event will take place at the Park Square Theatre in St. Paul, MN on November 19 – 21, 2021. It is choreographed by Rita Mustaphi, KDT’s Artistic Director, and features original poetic contributions from artist and playwright Ifrah Mansour.

Inspired by the poetry of writer and activist Kazi Nazrul Islam (1899-1976), Of Equality attempts to draw parallels between the experiences of today’s communities of color and those expressed by Nazrul Islam back in the early 20th century. Using a mixture of dance, music, and spoken word poetry, it juxtaposes past and present fights for racial, cultural and gender equity.

Through his writing and activism, Nazrul Islam shared his anger about and attempted to find solutions to various forms of oppression. By enacting his ideas decades after his death, Of Equality demonstrates that this great writer’s work is relevant to today’s artistic and political climates, transcending time and place.

Picture of Rita Mustaphi. She is wearing a green and gold gown and has her hands extended to the sides.

Rita Mustaphi. Photo courtesy of the artist.

With her choreography, Rita Mustaphi aims to seamlessly blend the various cultural and thematic ideas at play into a cohesive dance piece incorporating traditional Kathak idioms. Of Equality is just one in a long line of original works choreographed by Rita over the course of KDT’s three-decade history. Her work’s quality speaks for itself, having won her three McKnight Fellowships for choreography, a 2011 Lifetime Achievement award from the India Association of Minnesota, a 2012 Education award from the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, and a 2021 Nari Shakti Award for Women’s Empowerment from the Urvashi Dance, Music, Art and Culture Society in New Delhi.

Equality will be set to a live rendition of original compositions by Twin Cities musical legend J.D. Steele, with whom KDT previously collaborated back in 2013 on the critically acclaimed Karna – The Abandoned Hero. Steele, an accomplished musician who has performed with Prince, Mavis Staples, and others, will be accompanied by pianist Billy Steele, drum artist Abhinav Sharma, and vocalist Tonia Hughes. Steele’s compositions include elements of North Indian, East African and African American musical styles. They were also inspired by taals, which are rhythm cycles used in North Indian classical music and dance. His intent as composer is for all of these elements to unify in support of the dancers’ performance.

Ifrah Mansour

Ifrah Mansour. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Equality will also include written contributions by Somali poet and playwright Ifrah Mansour, who will perform original works (including the poem “I am a Refugee”) onstage alongside Mustaphi and Steele. Mansour is perhaps best known for her autobiographical play How to Have Fun in a Civil War, which details her memories of her childhood in war-torn Somalia.

Contributions from dancers of multiethnic backgrounds will fill out the show, including ballet, flamenco, tap, and hip-hop. Incorporating cross-cultural artistic and narrative elements within a classical Indian dance performance is in keeping with Rita Mustaphi’s mission to expand upon the Kathak tradition while preserving its authenticity and cultural integrity.

The premiere comes following a 2020 work-in-progress showing at Minneapolis’s Southern Theater. For more information about this production and other KDT programming, please visit https://kathadance.org.

Shaamya – Of Equality. November 19 – 21, $16-35, 80 minutes, Park Square Theatre, Historic Hamm Building, 20 W. Seventh Place, St. Paul, 55102.

Tickets are available now at https://parksquaretheatre.org/box-office/shows/2021-2022/shaamya-of-equality/

Read about the Park Square’s health and safety policies before you attend.

About Katha Dance Theatre

Katha Dance Theatre (KDT) creates, performs and educates through the art forms of dance, music, poetry and storytelling. Rooted in Kathak, the classical dance style of Northern India, KDT is dedicated to making dance accessible, inclusive and relevant. It enhances the local community by bridging diverse cultures and audiences to contribute to life’s infinite artistic expressions. Learn more at https://kathadance.org

About Kathak Dance

Kathak (pronounced “Kah-tahk”) is an Indian classical dance tradition native to North India. Its origins can be traced back to as early as 400 BCE, when it began as a form of sharing stories, myths, and Hindu scripture in temples and royal courts. Characterized by both rhythmic and lyrical elements, it features graceful hand gestures, pirouettes, and complex footwork, performed with expressiveness and precision. Over the centuries, it has grown to incorporate diverse influences and viewpoints with KDT at the forefront of its artistic evolution.

About Kazi Nazrul Islam

Kazi Nazrul Islam (1899-1976) was a Bengali writer, musician and activist whose advocacy for India’s economic and social independence from Britain made him widely known as “the rebel poet.” He was also prolific, having written thousands of poems and songs during his lifetime. Once named the national poet of Bangladesh, he is remembered for his staunch opposition against social and cultural oppression in all forms.

National Endowment for the Arts graphic logo - black & white with shooting star graphic and textThis project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit www.arts.gov. It is also supported by a grant from St. Paul’s Cultural STAR program.

Announcing the 2021-2022 Season

2021-2022 Connect and Celebrate: The Harris Family Theatre SeasonPARK SQUARE THEATRE’S RETURN AIMS TO HELP PEOPLE CONNECT AND CELEBRATE

47th Season Features New Artistic Collaborations and Delayed Fan Favorites

MEDIA CONTACT Rachel Wandrei – 617.543.5770, wandrei@parksquaretheatre.org

Saint Paul, Minn., Sep 2, 2021 – Park Square Theatre shared its plans to return to in person programming today with the announcement of the 2021-2022 Harris Family Theatre Season. Programming begins in late October and will feature several long-awaited productions including a musical revival and a summer mystery alongside several new artistic collaborations.

“We all need ways to laugh and connect as we emerge from the pandemic,” says Interim Executive Director Mark Ferraro-Hauck. “Park Square is a place where people know they can come together to relax and celebrate being together.” The season, the company’s 47th, is supported by a major gift from the John W. Harris family. 

“This is our season of coming together,” says Rick Shiomi, Co-Artistic Director of collaborator Full Circle Theatre Company as well as one of Park Square’s Artistic Associates, a cohort brought together in early 2020, just before the pandemic took hold, to guide the theatre’s artistic direction. “We’ve spent more than a year in relative isolation, and now with vaccinations, proper masking and social distancing, we have the opportunity to gather together again, even as the pandemic lingers through the Delta and other variants.”

“We are working diligently to keep our eye on the prize as we continually monitor and follow COVID-19 safety guidelines,” says Producing Director and Artistic Associate Kim Vasquez. “The theatre is deeply aware of public safety as well as the safety of our staff, crew, and actors.” Park Square recently announced its COVID-19 Health and Safety Plans, which includes required indoor masking and proof of vaccination or a negative covid test.

Shiomi continues, “we come together to share our music, our stories, our laughter and our pain in ways that theater can help us soothe our souls and give new energy to our spirits.  We at Park Square are here to connect with you, our community; to bring the joy and wonder back into our lives is the shared experience of the performing arts. This is a season of ‘recovery’ full of our own long delayed productions, collaborations, a revival, and the return of our classic educational theater productions. We are returning to the stage to serve you the best of our creative work.  It’s a full course meal with everything from the heartfelt stories and struggles of our lives,  to highly entertaining crime mysteries and the thrill  of playing air guitar.”

The theatre year opens with a misty murky night of storytelling and readers theatre in THEATRE OF THE MACABRE, directed by and featuring Craig Johnson, with original concept by Kim Vasquez (Oct 29 – 30, 2021). A theatrical experience for the time when spirits walk gleefully among us, you are invited to immerse yourself in classic tales of hauntings and horror including ghost stories, songs, classic literary scenes, and storytelling from Edgar Allen Poe to William Shakespeare. The production will reunite several artists from the well-received 2020 virtual production, as well as new material developed for the stage. 

Fall is full of collaborations, beginning with Park Square presenting the Full Circle Theater Company production, THE EMPATHY PROJECT, by Stephanie Lein Walseth (Nov 12 – 21, 2021). This world premiere, interview-based play was developed through virtual workshops and readings, and explores empathy across geographic, political, and racial divides. “There are so many moving stories about the experiences of folks across our state and how we can walk a mile in their shoes to better understand each other,” says Rick Shiomi. Based on interviews with rural and urban Minnesotan – people like our neighbors, our friends, or even ourselves – The Empathy Project investigates the power and limits of empathy in a deeply fractured world. 

November brings a special presentation of Katha Dance Theatre’s world premiere SHAAMYA – OF EQUALITY (Nov 19-21, 2021) with choreography by Rita Mustaphi. Inspired by the poem “Of Equality” by Bengali revolutionary poet Kazi Nazrul Islam, this multicultural dance piece infuses poetry, gospel and R&B music with original Kathak choreography. This new work, with music composed and performed by J.D. Steele and poetry by Somali poet and playwright Ifrah Mansour, makes parallels between the experiences of today’s communities of color and those of Nazrul Islam’s era.

January brings the much-anticipated return of MARIE AND ROSETTA, by George Brant (Jan 19 – Feb 13, 2022). Back by popular demand following the sold out 2018 run, this play with music is packed with joy and power from the godmother of rock-and-roll. Bringing fierce guitar playing and swing to gospel music, Sister Rosetta Tharpe influenced rock musicians from Elvis and Jimi Hendrix to the Alabama Shakes. The story begins in a funeral parlor in Mississippi, as Rosetta and her young protégé, Marie Knight, prepare for a tour that will establish them as a great musical duo. Songs like “I Looked Down the Line” express the pain and sorrow of living in the Jim Crow South, while “Didn’t It Rain” and “I Want a Tall Skinny Papa” will have audiences dancing in their seats.

Park Square is known for serving the region’s largest teen theatre audience with daytime matinees for students in middle and high school. This will continue in the spring with Shakespeare’s ROMEO AND JULIET. David Mann’s tight 90-minute adaptation will be offered to general audiences for just two nights (Apr 2-3, 2022). A tragic whirlwind of catastrophes and secrets comes to life in this passionate, youthful rendition of Shakespeare’s greatest love story. The theatre will also offer THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK solely for student audiences. 

Full Circle Theater Company returns in the spring with Augusto Federico Amador’s ATACAMA, (Apr 20 – May 1, 2022), a play of magical realism and reconciliation. Set in the landscape of Chile’s Atacama desert, this metaphoric quest begins with the meeting of two strangers searching for the long-lost remains of their children killed by the Pinochet regime. Chile’s history becomes an examination of the opposing choices, views, and actions that tear families and countries apart; and explores the transformative possibilities that can lead from transgression to redemption.

May brings the regional premiere of AIRNESS (May 11 – Jun 5, 2022) by Chelsea Marcantel. Five oddball rock fanatics go to dingy bars and cramped stages all across the nation to express their inner shred genius as they vie for a place at the National Air Guitar Championship. Following them on their quest to achieve ‘airness’ on the long road to qualification, this righteous and smile-inducing comedy shows how community is forged in unexpected places. “If you are looking for an amazing piece of theatre that will get you on your feet tapping, wailing and clapping in mid-air – while also moving you to reflect on and care for yourself – look no further; [Airness] is for you.” – Santa Barbara Independent

Finally, Sherlock takes the stage in Jeffrey Hatcher’s HOLMES AND WATSON (JUL 12 – AUG 21, 2022), an edge-of-your-seat comedy-mystery building on Conan Doyle’s beloved and complicated hero. Sherlock Holmes is dead, or is he? Dr. Watson receives a telegram from a mental asylum: three patients are claiming to be Sherlock Holmes. Did the world’s greatest sleuth fake his own death? Who’s the real detective and who are the imposters? Tight, clever, and full of suspense, this is Jeffrey Hatcher (Sherlock Holmes and the Ice Palace Murders; Mr. Holmes; The Good Liar) at his clever best.

SEASON TICKETS are on sale now. Subscriptions include a CLASSIC 3-play package or an EXPLORE choose-your-own of select productions. Subscription prices begin at $65. SINGLE TICKETS will be available in early October.

The ticket office is temporarily closed for in-person and phone service. With questions, please email the ticket office at tickets@parksquaretheatre.org. To speak to a ticket office representative, please include a phone number and you will be contacted during ticket office hours on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons.

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

Run Wild with Madagascar-A Musical Adventure Jr.

Two young people, one is wearing zebra ears and the other a lion's mane.

Media Contact – Rachel Wandrei wandrei@parksquaretheatre.org

Saint Paul, Minn., July 1, 2021 – SteppingStone Theatre for Youth invites explorers of all ages to come along on a transatlantic musical escapade with DreamWorks Madagascar – A Musical Adventure JR. Based on the DreamWorks Animation Motion Picture, the show follows an energetic group of crack-a-lackin’ friends as they escape from their home in New York’s Central Park Zoo and find themselves on an unexpected journey to Africa. The show will be performed by SteppingStone’s summer camp students outdoors on West 7th Place, July 27 – August 8 (photo link below).

DreamWorks Madagascar – A Musical Adventure JR. features original music and lyrics by George Noriega and Joel Someillan and a book by Kevin Del Aguila.  As the show opens, we learn that Marty the zebra may be celebrating his tenth birthday at the Central Park Zoo with his friends Alex the lion, Gloria the hippo, and Melman the giraffe, yet he longs to experience life outside of the zoo’s walls. When Marty eventually escapes, his animal friends from the zoo pursue him into New York City. After reuniting, the animals are chased down, and ultimately felled by tranquilizer darts. They awake, trapped in crates, on a ship, which – through a series of events – is thrown off course.  Upon reaching land the animals discover they have been shipwrecked on the island of Madagascar.  Ultimately, it is only in being so lost that they can begin to discover where they really belong.

“As the world unmasks and ventures back out into gathering, it is an honor to be a part of a summer of renewal and re-emergence,” says the show’s director, Dane Stauffer. “How fitting to share this tale of the desire for freedom, and the redemptive power of friendship and connection. I’m looking forward to being inspired by these young artists as we bring the tale to life. I love summer theatre camp, the happy hours spent in rehearsal learning the joy of collaboration and working hard to realize a vision. Plus, “I like to move it, move it!”

“It is really special for young audiences to see performers their own age or a little older on stage. It opens up the imagination in a whole new way,” says Mark Ferraro-Hauck, SteppingStone’s Artistic and Executive Director. “At SteppingStone, we believe that all young people are artists, makers, and doers and that they need to belong and contribute to the world. The themes of this show – friendship, teamwork, adventure and forgiveness – really resonate with that vision, particularly as young people are readjusting to a post-pandemic world full of the interactions that we’ve all been missing. We can’t wait for audiences to come and engage with these fantastic young artists and have some great outdoor fun this summer.”

CAST 
The cast includes Max Perdu (Alex), Mary Slowinski (Marty), Rue Burdette (Gloria), Mady Sjoberg (Melman), Ebrima Sarge (King Julien), Adeline Halverson(Private), Juan Fiz-Torezani (Kowalski), Lauren Hyatt (Rico), Zack Nelson (Skipper), and ensemble members Keira Deiman, Za’im Dennis, Natalia Jorgensen, Annika Lewis, Grace Lilla, Spencer Lilla, Soren Miller, Ella Myhre, Kai Stolpestad, Sadie Wallace, and Mara Wells.

ARTISTIC TEAM 
The artistic team includes Dane Stauffer (Director), Andrew Fleser (Music Director), Ricky Morisseau (Choreographer), Mark Ferraro-Hauck (Set Design), Rhiannon Fiskradatz (Costume Design), Charlotte Deranek (Sound Design) Alexi Carlson (Stage Manager), Johanna Johnson (Assistant Stage Manager), and Connor McEvoy (Production Manager)

TICKET INFO: Tickets are $12 child/student/seniors, $16 adults.
Group discounts available starting with groups of 10+.
Purchase at steppingstonetheatre.org or email boxoffice@steppingstonetheatre.org.

LOCATION: Outside Park Square Theatre at 20 West 7th Place, St. Paul, MN 551042

DATES 
Tuesday, July 27: 11:00 AM & 2:00 PM
Wednesday, July 28: 11:00 AM & 2:00 PM
Thursday, July 29: 11:00 AM & 2:00 PM
Friday, July 30: 11:00 AM & 2:00 PM
Saturday, July 31: Noon & 4:00 PM
Sunday, August 1:  Noon & 4:00 PM
Saturday, August 7: 10:00 AM & 2:00 PM
Sunday, August 8: 10:00 AM & 2:00 PM

SUGGESTED AUDIENCE: Great fun for anyone 3 +

PHOTO LINK: Press Photos available at https://www.steppingstonetheatre.org/series/madagascar/
From left: Mary Slowinski as Marty the Zebra, Max Perdu as Alex the Lion. Photos by Rachel Wandrei.

ABOUT STEPPINGSTONE THEATRE 
We Believe: Young People are artists, makers, and doers. They need to belong and contribute to the world. When young people make art together, they change themselves, and the world around them, for the better.

We Do: SteppingStone Theatre for Youth ignites belonging, generosity, mastery, self-advocacy, and inspiration by creating art with young people to share with the world.

STEPPINGSTONE THEATRE FOR YOUTH. 20 W. 7th Place, Saint Paul. steppingstonetheatre.org  

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Announcing Saint Paul Summer Sunlight

SAINT PAUL SUMMER SUNLIGHT PERFORMANCE SERIES WELCOMES WORKERS AND AUDIENCES BACK TO DOWNTOWN 

Media Contact – Rachel Wandrei wandrei@parksquaretheatre.org 

Saint Paul, Minn., June 22, 2021 – Park Square Theatre and the Saint Paul Downtown Alliance are celebrating the reopening of downtown Saint Paul with a free outdoor concert series aimed at welcoming returning workers, residents, theatre fans and music lovers back to the city’s cultural scene. SAINT PAUL SUMMER SUNLIGHT, a series of ten performances, will fill West 7th Place (the pedestrian mall between Wabasha and St Peter) with lunchtime and happy hour concerts from July 22 through September 23, 2021. 

An man in shiny red pants dancing and singing into a microphone.

Ready Freddie

“We have a varied and energetic lineup of concerts, from the glam rock-and-roll of Ready Freddie – A Queen Experience and the powerful R&B vocals of MsArnise, to Full Circle Theater Company’s recontextualization of The Mikado, a Gilbert and Sullivan opera classic,” says Park Square producer Kim Vasquez. “The Twin Cities has an array of eclectic, talented theatre makers and musicians who are ready to get back on stage, and audiences who are ready to come out and party a little. Our new team at Park Square Theatre and SteppingStone Theatre wants to play a collaborative leadership role in reconnecting community members and artists and adding to the vibrancy of downtown together.” Other acts in the series include Annie and the Bang Bang, The Champagne Drops, TaikoArts Midwest, an old-time radio show by the Mysterious Old Radio Listening Society and more (photo link below).  

A woman in red bluse and white blazer calmly looks into the distance. An industrial scene in the background

MsArnise

“As people return to downtown, we’ll be there to welcome them back and remind them of all the joy and excitement there is to be had in a vibrant urban center,” says Joe Spencer, president of the Saint Paul Downtown Alliance. “From our restaurants and shops to our music and theatre venues, our city is poised to bounce back better than ever.” Music will continue into the evenings with acoustic sets on the Loon Cafe’s patio on Thursday evenings throughout the summer.  

Park Square will be announcing their full reopening plans later in the summer, with a commitment to gradually producing shows that were canceled due to the pandemic (including a remount of the 2018 sold-out hit, MARIE AND ROSETTA), as well as sharing the Historic Hamm Building facility with other arts organizations. “The theatre may have been dark for over a year, but we’ve been busy behind the scenes and

Three drummers in blue tunics with drumsticks in the air surround three drumbs

TaikoArts Midwest

can’t wait to reconnect with people,” comments Mark Ferraro-Hauck, interim executive director of Park Square and artistic director of their partner theatre, SteppingStone Theatre for Youth. SteppingStone will be producing MADAGASCAR – A MUSICAL ADVENTURE JR, on West 7th Place from July 27- August 8. “Summer on the plaza is gonna be hoppin!” continues Ferraro-Hauck. “There will be an entertaining show for you here whether you are 3, 33, or 83. And then we’ll bring that energy inside and into the future. Join us!” 

TICKET PRICES: Free and open to the public. Limited chairs will be available, audiences are invited to bring their own chairs. Email tickets@parksquaretheatre.org with questions. 

CALENDAR INFORMATION*:

The Champagne Drops

The Champagne Drops

Thurs Jul 22, 12:00 pm – Full Circle Theater Company 
Thurs Aug 5, 4:30 pm – Ready Freddie: A Queen Experience
Thurs Aug 12, 12:00 pm – Legacy Arts Group
Thurs Aug 12, 4:30 pm – The Champagne Drops
Thurs Aug 19, 4:30 pm – MsArnise
Wed Aug 25, 4:30 pm – Victor Zupanc
Thurs Aug 26, 12:00 pm – TaikoArts Midwest

Thurs Sep 9, 4:30 pm – Annie and the Bang Bang
Fri Sep 10, 12:00 pm – Ben Cook-Feltz
Thurs Sep 23, 4:30 pm – The Mysterious Old Radio Listening Society 
*All performances subject to change. For continuous updates, visit parksquaretheatre.org. 

PHOTO LINK: Press Photos available at:
https://parksquaretheatre.org/media/photos/#1603933207367-806db2dd-4e8f 

Man in black fedora playing a red electric keyboard, a man at his side plays upright base.

Ben Cook-Feltz

SAINT PAUL SUMMER SUNLIGHT is sponsored by the Saint Paul Downtown Alliance, as part of its #WelcomeBackStPL campaign to safely celebrate reopening and welcome people back downtown. From outdoor trivia and art installations to pop-up events and concerts, the Downtown Alliance is partnering with downtown institutions, businesses, artists, and musicians to host more than 300 events and activations through the fall. Follow the Downtown Alliance on Facebook and Instagram or check out the hashtag #WelcomeBackStPL for updates. For the full calendar of events, visit WelcomeBackStPL.com. 

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

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TEARS OF MOONS Released for February Streaming

‘TEARS OF MOONS’ RELEASED FOR STREAMING BY PARK SQUARE THEATRE  

Saint Paul, Minn., January 28, 2021 – Next month, Park Square Theatre will offer its production of TEARS OF MOONS, by Antonio Duke and directed by Ellen Fenster, for a full month of streaming access. The play was filmed on Park Square’s Boss Stage and shown through Zoom in November of 2020 along with live post-show conversations. The rerelease, along with a recorded conversation between Duke, Fenster, and Rie Gilsdorf of Embody Equity, will be available at a reduced price for streaming on Park Square’s website from February 1-28, 2021. 

A young black man sits in a bus stop. He has an African mask and backpack with him.

Antonio Duke, photo by Aaron Fenster.

TEARS OF MOONS moves quickly through history – aboard the number 5 bus – bearing witness to the pervasiveness of violence against Black people in our shared history. Structured around The Poet, a Homeric narrator wrestling with his own rage and ineffectuality, Duke deftly weaves in other characters, victims of racial violence, some recognizable from news headlines and others representing the lost stories of many. Both personal and expansive, the play combines African spiritual figures and mythology with Greek epic theatre to reckon with the past and share a vision of strength. “The heartache and resiliency of the black spirit is as old as time itself,” says playwright and performer Antonio Duke, “Unfortunately, it is newly being tested time and time again. I want to ignite a fire within the audience’s spirit.” 

The streaming release corresponds with the long-planned offering of the play to Park Square’s large middle and high school audience during Black History month and the theatre expects a national reach as well. “A sociology teacher in Baltimore brought some of her students to the original shows, recounts director Ellen Fenster, who is also part of Park Square’s artistic planning cohort, and director of the theatre’s acclaimed zoom production of THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK. By offering on-demand streamingTEARS OF MOONS can better serve people in and beyond Minnesota.” 

“This is a time of recognizing and reckoning,” she continues. “This play is a witness not only to our history, but how we might grapple with this moment. It is a witness to the truth and the challenge we have before us.”  

TICKET PRICES: Streaming access $10, intended for one household. 

Tickets are availalbe at www.parksquaretheatre.org.

School groups can contact education@parksquaretheatre.org for more information. 

The ticket office is temporarily closed due to corona virus. 
Please email tickets@parksquaretheatre.org with questions. 

CALENDAR INFORMATION: Streaming Feb 1-28, 2021 

PHOTOS : download at https://parksquaretheatre.org/media/photos/
Photos by Aaron Fenster.  

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

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Park Square play honored by BroadwayWorld

Karen Landry and Edwin Strout in 33 Variations.

The 2020 BroadwayWorld Minneapolis awards were announced January 12, 2020, and Park Square was honored to have its 2015 production of 33 Variations, named “Production of a Play of the Decade.”  The public submitted the nominees and voted for their favorites. Thank you to everyone who supported Park Square!
33 Variations, by Moisés Kaufman and directed by James Rocco, followed the journey of a musicologist, Katherine, to understand why Beethoven was compelled to write thirty-three distinct variations on a simple theme. Park Square’s production featured the late Karen Landry as Katherine and Edwin Strout as Beethoven, with piano by Irena Elkina.
Among other artists and companies recognized, Park Square fans will recognize Jeffrey Hatcher (Riddle Puzzle Plot, Sherlock Holmes and the Ice Palace Murders) for his Glensheen at the History Theatre, James Rocco, and the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts!

See the full list of winners.

Upcoming Radio Shows Announced!

MYSTERIOUS OLD RADIO LISTENING SOCIETY ANNOUNCES UPCOMING SHOWS FOR MONTHLY PARK SQUARE THEATRE RESIDENCY 

Four Zoom squares with actors taking bows. They are in their homes surrounded by sound effects tools and twinkling lights.

Clockwise from upper left: Eric Webster, Tim Uren, Joshua English Scrimshaw, Shanan Custer

Saint Paul, Minn., Dec 3, 2020 – Theatre people of all stripes may miss the buzz of a full house, but the dedicated MYSTERIOUS OLD RADIO LISTENING SOCIETY continues finding new ways to entertain. Coming up, they have five new radio shows, continuing their monthly Monday night residency with Park Square Theatre. Themes will include evenings dedicated to cold weather, H.P. Lovecraft, and to dreamsPerformances are on Zoom on Jan 25, Feb 22, Mar 15, Apr 19 and May 24 at 7:30 p.m. 

The group originally pivoted to the pandemic by producing audio-only radio plays, but after applause for a zoom-recorded recreation of Orson Welles’s A Christmas Carol, all upcoming shows will be videos of the actors performing both their lines and creating the sound effects. “This is us in our homes performing on zoom,” says company member Eric Webster, “we do all the characters and all the foley and then edit it together. One audience member commented on how fun it was “seeing Tim literally change his hats to play different characters.”  

“Creating video, not just audio, gets us closer to the on-stage experience we were creating pre-pandemic,” says company member Joshua English Scrimshaw. “More than just remaking our favorites, we create something fresh from the golden-age shows that we all love so much, like Escape and Suspense.” The upcoming shows will be a combination of recreations of classic works, like a 1949 episode of Quiet Please in which scientists discover a gateway to a strange frozen dimension, and homages written by the company themselves, such as their ongoing series, Dead Men’s Tales. Full descriptions of the upcoming shows are available on the Park Square website. 

Another unforeseen benefit from the groupmove to virtual programming has been the ability to reach a national audience of mystery and radio fans. The December show reached audiences in 16 states including many delighted first-time attendees. “We knew we had some followers out there from our podcast, but it is amazing to have folks tuning in from D.C. to California,” says Webster. While some audience members are deep devotees of radio excited to have the opportunity to watch the show, otherhave shared their appreciation of being able to connect to remote friends and family through watching the shows together.  

Each evening includes live trivia-worthy introductions by the company and two prerecorded half hour radio dramas, followed by a live chat Q & A. “The Q & A’s are the best part,” says Webster. “We could just let the audience go sometimes, they are so smart and funny. We laugh and have a great time together.”  

 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). Online technical support and video editing by Aaron Fiskradatz.

TICKET PRICES: 
All Tickets $18. Intended for a single-household.
3-show packages also available for $36.
Tickets are on sale at parksquaretheatre.org 

The ticket office is temporarily closed due to corona virus. 
Please email tickets@parksquaretheatre.org with questions. 

CALENDAR INFORMATION: 
January 25, February 22, March 15, April 19, May 24. 
All performances at 7:30 pm. 
Streaming access to the pre-recorded portions of each show are available to ticket holders for one month following the initial release. 

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

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

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VISIT THE GOLDEN AGE OF RADIO (AND CHRISTMAS!)

VISIT THE GOLDEN AGE OF RADIO (AND CHRISTMAS) WITH THE MYSTERIOUS OLD RADIO LISTENING SOCIETY’S RECREATION OF THE 1939 BROADCAST OF A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

Gathering around the radio to listen Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol was a treasured annual tradition from the 1930s to 1950s. This year, Park Square Theatre and the Mysterious Old Radio Listening Society will present recreation of the 1939 Mercury Theatre broadcast of this holiday masterpiece, along with an interactive reading of Twas the Night Before Christmas, in which children – of all ages – are invited to create the sound effects, or foley as they call it in radio lingo. THE 1939 MERCURY THEATRE ON THE AIR – A CHRISTMAS CAROL will be shared on Zoom Dec 11, 12 and 13 and will be available for streaming through December. Dim the lights and join your loved ones, near or far, to tune in to the true meaning of Christmas. 

Adults will appreciate A Christmas Carol for its redemptive themes, while children are captivated by the familiar holiday trappings and the opportunity to be gently scared by a reassuring ghost story,” says Society company member Joshua English Scrimshaw. Ghost stories are traditional around the holiday time in England,” chimes in fellow company member Eric Webster. This story, howevercomes with the powerful feelgood ending of redemption. It’s about hope that things can change  people and circumstances, Webster added. “We all need hope that things can change for the better.

Three white men in Santa hats and Christmas sweaters holding vintage records.

The Mysterious Old Radio Listening Society is left to right: Eric Webster, Joshua English Scrimshaw, and Tim Uren.

Since taking what was a monthly on-stage residency to Zoom, the group has performed adaptations ranging from Agatha Christie to Bram Stokerrecreating lost radio episodes (Scrimshaw’s Peter Lorre impression is spot on) and even writing their own original scripts. Until now, these shows have been audioonly radio dramas for the audience to listen to, but A CHRISTMAS CAROL takes it a step farther. “This will be us in our homes performing on zoom,” says Webster. “We do all the characters and all the foley and then edit it together. You’ll be able to watch us perform it, not just hear the audio of our performance.” 

As for why to tackle Christmas Carol, Webster exclaims, “It’s right up our alley! It’s a ghost story, and fits into our wheelhouse of suspense, crime and horror stories from the golden age of radioPlus, The Mercury Theater and Lionel Barrymore’s performance of Scrooge was  fantastic, and Orson Welles’s adaptation is one of the best ever done. 

Of course, some modifications will be made to adapt and translate the 1939 radio version to a 2020 Zoom production. For example, “Music – we don’t have a full orchestra like they had,” says Webster. “We have four actors playing all the parts, where they had one actor per character.  Other than that, we are staying as true as possible to the original broadcast.” And one more important thing, notes Scrimshaw, “for the sake of both variety and parity, we cast Shanan Custer in a number of roles traditionally played by men.” 

As Park Square enters a partnership with SteppingStone Theatre for Youth, the theatre wanted to bring a family element to the production. Webster has already released a video teaching young people (or anyone who wants to join in the fun) how to create a range of sound effects from “a clatter” to “reindeer on roof” using common household items. Ticket holders will receive a script with cues, and before each zoom performance, the company will perform a live reading of Twas the Night Before Christmas with prompts for the audience to use their new skills to create the sound effects themselves.  

As for how the audience can expect to feel after the show, Webster is enthusiastic. “Joyful!  Hopeful! You can’t help to examine your own life after A CHRISTMAS CAROL, to check in to make sure you are holding on to what really matters in life – family and friends. That’s the true spirit of Christmas. 

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). Online technical support by Aaron Fiskradatz. 

TICKET PRICES: All Tickets $30. Intended for a single-household. Tickets are on sale at www.parksquaretheatre.org 

The ticket office is temporarily closed due to corona virus. Please email tickets@parksquaretheatre.org with questions. 

CALENDAR INFORMATION: 
Dec. 11, 12 at 7:30 pm, Dec 13 at 2:00 pm
Streaming on Park Square’s website Dec 14- Jan 3. 

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

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

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TEARS OF MOONS GRAPPLES WITH HISTORY

 HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH YOUR RAGE? YOUNG BLACK PLAYWRIGHT ASKS MINNESOTANS TO GRAPPLE WITH OUR SHARED HISTORY IN ONLINE SOLO PLAY 

Media Contact – Connie Shaver shaver@parksquaretheatre.org 

Saint Paul, Minn., November 5, 2020 – Park Square Theatre announces a new production of TEARS OF MOONS, written and performed by Antonio Duke and directed by Ellen Fenster. The poetic solo show winds through time – on the number 5 bus – bearing witness to the historic pervasiveness of violence against Black people and its role in our shared history. Both personal and expansive, the play reckons with the past and shares a vision of strength that interweaves African spiritual figures and mythology with Greek epic theatre. “The heartache and resiliency of the black spirit is as old as time itself,” says Duke, “Unfortunately, it is newly being tested time and time again.” TEARS OF MOONS will be filmed on Park Square’s Boss Stage and shown through Zoom November 19-22, 2020, along with live post-show conversations with Duke, Fenster and a moderator. The play will not be available for streaming. 

A young black man sits in a bus stop. He has an African mask and backpack with him.Structured around The Poet, a Homeric narrator wrestling with his own rage and ineffectuality, Duke deftly weaves in other characters, victims of racial violence, some recognizable from news headlines and others representing the lost stories of many. First written in 2015, Duke is judiciously updating the play in response to current events“As a black playwright, I conjure stories specifically for black folk so we can have a forum to communally bear witness to the rage we usually hide,” he says. “But I want everyone to see it so that the suffering people go through can be remembered and honored through ritual. The human condition is the human condition. Empathy is empathy. The victims of racial violence I speak on are human and their stories speak to our shared humanity. I want to ignite a fire within the audience’s spirit.” 

“We have been talking during rehearsal about how the racial trauma of our shared history affects everyone,” says director Ellen Fenster, who is also a Park Square Artistic Associate. “Iaffects how we interact and trust one another on the micro level, and how our systems work for some and not others on the macro level. These are such deep wounds and in my opinion we all suffer from them, whether we consciously realize it or not. This play is for anyone who wants to start to reconcile the racial trauma we live with in the United States, particularly white people who want to educate themselves and learn from a Black playwright who is coping with violence against Black people. This play illustrates with real information why racism and our racist past continues to haunt us.”  

The play is one of the first, following a three-part Halloween variety series, to be programmed by Park Square’s new leadership team which includes four Artistic Associates and Interim Executive Director Mark Ferraro-Hauck. “Part of what makes this play so incredibly meaningful, and why we so wanted to produce it, is Antonio Duke himself,” says Ferraro-Hauck. “He has a wonderfully grounded, gentle and wise presence. You can tell he comes from place of deep compassion as a storyteller. He brings you along with him like a trusted companion.”

“Antonio wrote this play five years ago,” notes Fenster, “and unfortunately it has only become more relevant. The content can stir a lot of emotions and be uncomfortable, which is why we are hosting it through Zoom instead of streaming. We are strongly encouraging audiences to stay with us after each performance to reflect and start processing these deep feelings. 2020 has been a year or recognizing and reckoning, and this play is a witness not only to our history, but how we might grapple with this moment. It is a witness to the truth and the challenge we have before us.” 

ABOUT THE ARTISTS 

TEARS OF MOONS is performed entirely by Antonio Duke. 

The Production Team for TEARS OF MOONS includes Ellen Fenster (Director) Emmet Kowler (Lighting and Projection Design), Erin Gustafson (Stage Manager), Tomas Leal/Leal Studios (Videographer). 

Antonio Duke is a Twin Cities based actor and playwright. In his work he focuses on mythology. Within mythos lies intimate and epic circumstances that he is driven to explore. He conjures most of his muse form black spiritualities; specifically, those deities from the Yoruba, Santeria and Vodou traditions. His artistic mission is to provide conjuration spells for black folk. By offering black magic he hopes to illuminate a communal healing space. He is an alumnus of the University of Minnesota/Guthrie B.F.A. Actor Training Program. He has been seen on stages with The Blue Barn Theatre, Penumbra Theatre, Pillsbury House + Theatre, Climb Theatre, Nebraska Shakespeare Festival and the Guthrie Theatre. His first solo performance piece Tears of Moons was accepted into the Guthrie Theatre’s Solo Emerging Artist Celebration. His second solo performance piece Ashes of Moons premiered at Pillsbury House Theatre’s as a part of their Naked Stages Fellowship. He received both the Artist Initiative Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board and Jerome Hill Artist Fellowship for his next solo piece Missing Mississippi Moons. He is the Co-Artistic Director of The Black Ensemble Players. You can expect him to cultivate many more stages as his journey continues to grow.  

Ellen Fenster is a professional theater director and arts educator in Minneapolis and part of Park Square Theatre’s artistic leadership team. Ellen has directed at Pillsbury House Theatre, The Illusion Theater, Yellow Tree Theater, Theatre Mu, Artistry, Gremlin Theatre, U of MN/Guthrie Theater Actor Training Program and Park Square Theater. She is an associate artist at Pillsbury House Theatre where she ran the Chicago Avenue Project from 2008 to 2016She is also an artistic associate at Illusion Theatre where she helps connect the theater with young and emerging artists. She is currently the Artistic and Executive Director of Twin Cities Theater Camp, a summer theater intensive for children. 

TICKET PRICES: All Tickets $25
Tickets are on sale at www.parksquaretheatre.org.  

The ticket office is temporarily closed due to corona virus. 
Please email tickets@parksquaretheatre.org with questions. 

CALENDAR INFORMATION: Nov 19, 20, 21 at 7:30 pm, Nov 22 at 2:00 pm 

PHOTOS : download at https://parksquaretheatre.org/media/photos/
Photos by Aaron Fenster.  

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

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Park Square and SteppingStone Theatre to Join Forces

PARK SQUARE THEATRE AND STEPPINGSTONE THEATRE ARE
JOINING FORCES
TO CREATE “THEATRE FOR LIFE”

Media Contacts:
Connie Shaver,  shaver@parksquaretheatre.org
Kiersten Birondo kiersten@steppingstonetheatre.org

This fall, Park Square Theatre and SteppingStone Theatre for Youth join forces to create “your theatre for life” in downtown Saint Paul. The two companies have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding that will lead to more robust regional theatre programming for all ages. Through joint management and mission, though operating as separate legal entities with separate boards and finances, the two companies will provide a full range of theatre experiences out of the Historic Hamm Building. 

Those experiences will encompass all ages and the best that both theatres have to offer: classes and camps for young people, workshops for adults and intergenerational groups, family-oriented productions for young audiences, and Park Square’s full mainstage season of new works, classics, mysteries and beloved musicals. In tandem the two partner organizations will serve an audience of 125,000 with more than 70,000 young people attending performances and educational programs.

“I got my start in a theatre for youth company at eight and had my first theatre internship at 18,” says Park Square executive director Michael-jon Pease. “What excites me by joining forces is how together we truly become Saint Paul’s theatre for life for artists and audiences. This innovative partnership is a natural outgrowth of the theatre-in-residence concept Richard Cook started with the addition of Park Square’s Andy Boss Stage.”

SteppingStone’s artistic and executive director Mark Ferraro-Hauck agrees. “With the planned sale of our building near Summit Avenue and Victoria Street in Saint Paul, SteppingStone will return to its downtown roots for performances while maintaining easy accessibility for our hundreds of camp and class families through neighborhood-based programs and facilities.  Greater geographical flexibility and the strength of our combined resources are essential to meet the evolving needs of young artists, families, and schools.”

Each company has championed new work for the stage, from Park Square’s world premiere commission of Christina Ham’s NINA SIMONE: FOUR WOMEN that has gone on to productions around the country to SteppingStone’s recent world premiere of Ricardo Gamboa’s THE REAL LIFE ADVENTURES OF JIMMY DE LAS ROSAS. Park Square’s mainstage subscription programming will continue, such as the upcoming world premiere of BAD THINGS, GOOD WHISKEY, and the new musical TRIANGLE (a co-production with The Ordway). SteppingStone’s annual productions by and for young audiences will move to the Park Square stages during the school year, with summer productions held elsewhere to accommodate the growing summer audience. The partnership kicked off informally on August 1 and 2 with the SteppingStone production of DISNEY’S LITTLE MERMAID, JR, which took place outdoors on the 7th Place Plaza in front of Park Square.

“Partnerships with artists, theatre companies, and schools have also been integral to both Park Square and SteppingStone’s work in recent years,” comments SteppingStone Board President Mike Erlandson.  The new joint venture will include ongoing partner relationships with local companies such as Ghoulish Delights/The Mysterious Old Radio Listening Society, Flying Foot Forum, PRIME Productions, Ballet Co Lab, Full Circle Theater, TruArtSpeaks, and Trademark Theatre. 

“This step not only protects both Park Square and SteppingStone during the continued pandemic and forced theatre ‘intermission,’ by bringing together their assets and skillsets,” notes Park Square Board chair Paul Mattessich, “but re-establishes the Hamm Building – which also houses the former SPCO recital hall and the former Vieux Carré jazz club – as a thriving, diverse performance center that can help rebuild downtown’s economy once the pandemic is over.”

With this move, the two organizations are also transforming their leadership model and building on Park Square’s March announcement of a cohort model of Artistic Associates including Kim Vasquez, Rick Shiomi and Ellen Fenster. Mark Ferraro-Hauck becomes the newest element of the artistic and executive leadership team, serving as interim Executive Director, while Vasquez will become Producing Director of the Park Square Mainstage. Another Artistic Associate is currently meeting with the team and is expected to be announced in the coming weeks. Michael-jon Pease, Park Square’s current Executive Director, will remain with the company as a part-time consultant through the transition. Pease begins a new career as Executive Director of the Saint Paul Parks Conservancy in September. Ferraro-Hauck observes, “As we have discussed the challenges of the current economic moment and the complexity of bringing together two organizations, we have also been inspired by the necessity of re-imagining artistic leadership in ways that join and celebrate the many gifts and lived experiences found in our artistic community.”

As a teacher at St Paul City School, a current board member of SteppingStone Theatre, and a subscriber and donor to Park Square Theatre, Pondie Taylor agrees. “I think the energy of SteppingStone and Park Square Theatre truly complement each other well. Thanks to their theater classes, SteppingStone has given my children the tools and confidence to be on stage. Park Square Theatre has invited my students to watch the magic of a novel come to life on stage. I bring my entire family to watch a SteppingStone play and my husband and I enjoy date night at Park Square! I think these two theaters together will continue to strengthen the art scene in the Twin Cities and the greater Midwest.”  

Artistic and Executive leadership

Mark Ferraro-Hauck
Interim Executive Director of Park Square, Artistic Executive Director of SteppingStone Theatre for Youth
Mark has a passion for providing all youth with an opportunity to grow, discover their strengths, and interact with the world around them. He has conducted teacher and parent trainings in arts-based wellness strategies for youth and led a federal study of the role of the arts in building resiliency with traumatized youth. Mark has directed and designed over 60 plays throughout the Midwest at professional and educational theatres. He was a founder and held the position of Executive Producing Director of the Great River Shakespeare Festival in Winona, Minnesota, and was also founder of Public Theater of Minnesota in 2010, a program focused on professional Shakespeare productions featuring young actors. In addition to working in the arts, Mark spent 15 years as the principal designer and co-owner of Bluestem Construction, a nationally recognized residential and commercial remodeling firm.

Kim Vasquez
Producing Director of the Park Square Mainstage, Park Square Theatre Artistic Associate
Kim Vasquez is a Saint Paul native specializing in the development of new plays and musicals as head of Gray Lady Entertainment, Inc. She is currently a producer on Be More Chill (Chicago, London, Broadway and Off-Broadway) and Austen’s Pride. Kim is a proud Founding Producer for the currently defunct New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF), which survived for a glorious 15 years. Her most recent directing credit was for the New York Times bestselling Author and Poet, Rupi Kaur, in a live theatrical production of The Sun And Her Flowers at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center. Kim is also an Actor recently having worked on In The Heights, the movie, and Saturday Night Live. Proud member of SAG-AFTRA.

Ellen Fenster
Park SquareTheatre Artistic Associate
Ellen Fenster is a professional theater director and arts educator in Minneapolis. Ellen has directed at Pillsbury House Theatre, The Illusion Theater, Yellow Tree Theater, Theatre Mu, Artistry, Gremlin Theatre, U of MN/Guthrie Theater Actor Training Program and Park Square Theater. She is an associate artist at Pillsbury House Theatre where she ran the Chicago Avenue Project from 2008 to 2016.  She is also an artistic associate at Illusion Theatre where she helps connect the theater with young and emerging artists. She is currently the Artistic and Executive Director of Twin Cities Theater Camp, a summer theater intensive for children.

Rick Shiomi
Park Square Theatre Artistic Associate
Rick Shiomi is a founding member and the Co-Artistic Director of Full Circle Theater. He has been a playwright, director and artistic director in the Asian American theater movement since the 1980s and was a co-founder of Theater Mu and Artistic Director for twenty years. His twenty plays include Mask Dance, Rosie’s Café and Yellow Fever. His directing credits include: Flower Drum Song (David Hwang version), Into The Woods, The New Mikado and Caught by Christopher Chen. He has received The McKnight Distinguished Artist Award, The Ivey Award for Lifetime Achievement and the Sally Ordway Irvine Award for Vision.

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