Posts Tagged Lara Trujillo

Flying Foot Forum Returns to Park Square

Flying Foot Forum Returns to Park Square

HEAVEN

Flying Foot Forum’s emotional, dance filled musical returns

MEDIA CONTACT
Connie Shaver, shaver@parksquaretheatre.org

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

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

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

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

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

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

Exhumations and Justice

Post-show conversation following the Sunday, June 16 performance

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

Sex Trafficking and Genocide

Film The Whistleblower and FBI talk on sex trafficking

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

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

 

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

CAST:

Jeremy Bensussan

Jan Campbell

Joe Chvala

Peter Colburn

Michelle de Joya

Ariel Donahue

Kevin Dustrude

Mary Gantenbein

Karla Grotting

Liam Hage

Christian LaBissoniere

Cooper Lajeunesse

Helena Magalhaes

Riley McNutt

Natalie Nowytski

Charles Robison

Jessica Staples

Molly Stoltz

Nicolas Sullivan

Lara Trujillo

Eric Webster

Joe Weismann

Mabel Weismann

 

BAND

Colleen Bertsch

Jeffrey Gram

Jake Endres

Scott Keever

Eric Ray

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

*Member, Actors Equity Association

CALENDAR INFORMATION

Heaven

Park Square’s Proscenium Stage

Previews: May 31 – June 6, 2019

Opening Night: June 7

Regular Run: June 7 – 23, 2019

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

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

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

 

UP NEXT ON THE PARK SQUARE PROSCENIUM STAGE:

The world premiere of:

Jefferson Township Sparkling Junior Talent Pageant

Book and Lyrics by Keith Hovis

Directed by and Laura Leffler

Previews: June 14 – 20, 2019

Opening Night: June 21

Regular Run: June 21 – July 28, 2019

 

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

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What’s That Got To Do With Jamil Jude?

Jamil Jude
(Photo by Connie Shaver)

Last month, I attended a friend’s graduation at the University of Minnesota. Only two years before, I’d read her application essay explaining her motivation to pursue a Master’s in Public Affairs, despite her already heavy load of a full-time job and parenting as well as the economic and time sacrifices for the family. What drove her all boiled down to a personal value instilled in her by her father: “Always leave it better.”

Today I was involved in a brief discussion about the concept of transformational leadership with the sisters and consociates of the Order of St. Joseph of the Carondelet in St. Paul. Such leaders are change makers; they inspire, motivate and empower followers toward making lasting change through a common vision, and they do so by changing expectations, perceptions and motivations. Unlike traditional transactional leaders who are more concerned with processes and foster compliance through rewards and punishment, transformational leaders challenge the status quo to build a personally and collectively meaningful and productive environment for the common good. The transactional style is less apt to make lasting change, though effective in getting specific projects or tasks done and in dealing with crisis and emergencies

Recently I saw Full Circle Theater Company’s 365 Days/plays by Suzan-Lori Parks: A 2017 Remix. This is a company that I’ve been following since it fell under my radar last year when I saw its inaugural production, Theater: A Sacred Passage. It is a forward-looking multiracial, multicultural and multigenerational company that “artfully addresses issues of human nature and social justice for 21st century audiences.” Led by five highly experienced theatre professionals (Rick Shiomi, co-founder and former artistic director of Mu Performing Arts; Martha B. Johnson, co-founder of Mu Performing Arts; James A. Williams, co-founder of Penumbra Theatre; Lara Trujillo, seasoned vocalist, actor and music educator; and Stephanie Lein Walseth, longtime theatre scholar, artist, educator and administrator), this company does the hard work of “walking the talk” in its commitment to intentional diversity that will impact the Twin Cities theatre community of artists and audience well into the future.

What do any of these seemingly random reflections have to do with Jamil Jude, Park Square Theatre’s Artistic Programming Associate since December 2015? Well, everything.

Find out more in an upcoming post about Jamil!

Going Full Circle and Beyond

The circle is a universal symbol of unity, wholeness, inclusivity and cyclical movement. During both the first rehearsal and opening night of Flower Drum Song at Park Square Theatre, members of Mu Performing Arts reflected on how Mu itself has come full circle on its 25th anniversary. Its once newest core performers, such as Randy Reyes, Sherwin Resurreccion, Katie Bradley and Eric “Pogi” Sumangil, are now the elders as another generation of artists stream through. In fact, when Mu first staged Flower Drum Song about eight years ago, Sherwin had played the young man Ta and Randy his father, Wang. And just four years ago, Randy Reyes inherited the Artistic Director role from co-founder Rick Shiomi, who has since co-found a new company called Full Circle Theater.

First rehearsal of Flower Drum Song (Photo by T. T. Cheng)

First rehearsal of Flower Drum Song
(Photo by T. T. Cheng)

Recently I asked Rick Shiomi to go back down memory lane to Mu’s beginnings, then return us to where it is now and, in conjunction, where he is now. My first surprise on this journey was that then University of Minnesota graduate student Dong-il Lee, not Rick, had initiated the founding of Theater Mu (the organization’s original name).

“I actually came here from Canada for personal reasons,” Rick admitted, “and I didn’t think it was even possible to do. I only knew one or two Asian Americans acting in the Twin Cities. I thought it would be too monumental a task.” Yet Rick agreed to go along for the ride.

However, Dong-il graduated within a year and moved to the East coast for a teaching position and, later, back to South Korea. Rick suddenly found himself heading Mu as interim, and ultimately permanent, Artistic Director.  But why didn’t he just stop then and go on with his life?

“By now, I saw that my future would be in the Twin Cities,” Rick said. “I had already committed my life to Asian American theater, and there was nothing here. I could certainly have worked with another theater, like Mixed Blood, that would do maybe one Asian American play in five years. I preferred to put in the hard work to develop Mu instead.”

The work was, indeed, hard. Rick compared the first five to ten years to “digging trenches to lay a foundation.” People came and went as Mu gradually built its first major wave of core performers to take it to the next level. In its 2003/4 season, Mu reached a new high with an all-Asian American casting of the Sondheim musical Pacific Overtures at Park Square Theatre, followed in 2005/6 with its landmark production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Those were exciting times for Mu.

In Rick’s opinion, “Mu has completed one cycle and is now starting on another, almost like a spiral. There is a certain circular sensation, especially for the actors who have grown up and now play the elders, but it’s a different place and time and their roles have changed.”

Rick, too, has let go of a cycle to begin a new one. He and four other longtime stalwarts of the Twin Cities theater community–Martha B. Johnson, James A. Williams, Lara Trujillo and Stephanie Lein Walseth–founded Full Circle Theater in 2013. By doing so, they are going full circle in the sense of experiencing and implementing some of the same growth challenges and strategies faced by any startup, such as Mu in its younger days. However, this time around, they have all been “around the block” with collective knowledge to their advantage as well as a focus beyond Asian American theater. Listed as one of Full Circle’s core values is theater that “is multiracial and multicultural in its representation of life.”

Full Circle’s upcoming production, 365 Days/365 Plays by Suzan-Lori Parks: A 2017 Remix, will run at the Penumbra Theatre from May 26 to June 11. It will feature 46 of a collection of 365 plays written by Parks in 2002 (one play per day). In its 2007 premiere, 365 Days/365 Plays was lauded as “a national phenomenon….crossing ethnic, racial and economic boundaries.” Flower Drum Song patrons can take advantage of Full Circle’s special offer of $10 tickets by inputting the code FDS at brownpapertickets.com.

With regard to Flower Drum Song, Rick has strong memories of the powerful scene, in Mu’s earlier staging at the Ordway, between Ta and Linda Low–then played by Sherwin Resurreccion and Laurine Price, respectively–when she leaves to make it big in Hollywood. He also recalls the emotional father-son reconciliation dance between Randy and Sherwin as Wang and Ta. Another high point came when Sara Ochs, as Mei-Li, so movingly sang “Love, Look Away.”

“What were you feeling and thinking,” I asked, “as you watched Flower Drum Song to commemorate Mu’s 25th anniversary?”

“What a great evolution/revolution all of us have created!” Rick replied. “I felt great pride in the work of our veterans Sherwin and Katie, leading the cast, and Randy leading the company. And excited by the new talent coming!”

 

Martha B. Johnson, Rick Shiomi, David Henry Hwang and Stephanie Bertumen at opening night for Flower Drum Song (Photo by Connie Shaver)

Martha B. Johnson, Rick Shiomi, David Henry Hwang and Stephanie Bertumen at opening night of Flower Drum Song
(Photo by Connie Shaver)

 

Flower Drum Song – Park Square Theatre’s Proscenium Stage until February 19