Category Archives: RIII

Fun Home at UI Theatre

There are some professional opportunities that only present themselves every once in a blue moon. I find myself in the midst of one right now as we wrap up what has been a pretty terrible year overall.

Please don’t misunderstand. Personally, all is well. My family is delightful. My work is diverse and fulfilling. I have a wonderful set of students who I am fortunate enough to spend time with every week. Taking a broader view though, our nation has voted itself into the idiomatic handbasket. We are in peril.

Living with anxiety offers valuable lessons and tools to me every day. One of the most essential tools has been adopting a terrier-like commitment to releasing all that which I cannot control, which is to say, nearly everything.

From where I’m sitting, art is the only satisfactory channel for processing my human experience.

Fun Home by Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron (based on Alison Bechdel‘s award-winning graphic novel) is one of the most powerfully honest and beautiful musicals ever created. From my perch in the onstage six-piece band, I get to experience it repeatedly with new lessons revealing themselves every time.

I took on this project because of how much I have loved my previous work with director John Cameron and musical director Janelle Lauer but I wasn’t overly familiar with Alison Bechdel when I came on board other than as the inspiration for the Bechdel test. This is actually my favorite way to approach a project; total immersion from a previous place of ignorance. There is so much potential for growth when one has so much yet to understand.

There are still four more opportunities to see Fun Home at the UI Theatre Building. The cast and crew are so talented, so consistent in their portrayal of this beautiful and heartbreaking story, and such kind and invested people. And the band? Well, I don’t mind telling you that the band rocks. No other possibility exists under the music direction of the inimitable Janelle Lauer.

I know this production will change you. What other reason do we have to be here?

I have a very smart and compassionate friend who shared with me this mini-comic that Alison wrote as a coda to Fun Home opening on Broadway. I really hope you click through to Vulture to read the whole thing.

FunHomeVultureSlide 1 of 9. View the rest of the mini-comic over at Vulture.

 

ACLU Update

riii
Art Roche, Mary Denmead, William Dutcher, Zach Twardowski and Atticus Dutcher in Richard III. Photo by Andrea Wilson.

I am not the only American to have spent the past week alternately devastated and enraged but I am so grateful to have also experienced flashes of true hope and deep love for how my community has responded.

Between our event on Friday which raised $833.25, Writers Resist! last Sunday, and The Last Night in America organized by Megan Gogerty on Thursday, eastern Iowa artists have raised upwards of $3700 for the Iowa ACLU this week. Many people do not realize that the ACLU is a non-partisan organization that prides itself in upholding everyone’s civil liberties, no matter who they are or what they believe.

We are going to take care of each other. We are going to resist injustice. We are going to pay attention and participate in the democratic process. We are going to use our art to magnify what is going on around us because, as my friend and mentor Ron Clark said recently in a Press-Citizen interview: “It’s our artistic community that most effectively holds out a mirror and says, ‘Look at what we have become.'”

There are many petitions circling. I’d like to direct your attention to this one in particular asking that we preserve the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. When I signed it, it still needed almost 100,000 more signatures to get a response from the White House. This is quite literally the least you can do but is still so important.

Together we rise.

 

RIII gratitude

We had our final rehearsal last night for our pop-up activist abridged reading of Shakespeare’s Richard III coming up on Friday and I am overwhelmed with gratitude.

For Ron Clark, for bringing his lifetime of experience and leading us with his characteristic vision and deep compassion, all the while giving us hours upon hours of his time.

For Jody Hovland, who joined us in our final rehearsal to share her amazing talent and mentorship.

For Keith Reins, who will be with us on Friday, guitar in hand, for our musical partnership and for always having my back.

For Nick Westergaard and Meghann Foster who are not only incredibly gifted actors but also run Brand Driven Digital and are sharing their marketing expertise with us.

For Bethany Horning, costumer extraordinaire, and her support team of Jeremy and Chase, for her creativity, cheerful encouragement, and texts that make me snort coffee out of my nose.

For Chris Okiishi, easily one of the most generous and supportive people any of us will ever know, for lending his time to get the script in our actors’ hands.

For my beloved family Carmel and Rayburn Vrabel and Jon and Susie Dutcher who have spread their pride in this project far and wide which included, in some cases, defending us against the criticism of political disagreement among their own Facebook community.

For my friends who have pressed money into my hands earmarked for the ACLU.

Finally, for these beautiful actors who are sharing their time and talent with all of us: including Ron, Meghann, and Nick mentioned above and also Larry Baker, John Clarence Cameron, Aprille Clarke, Mary Denmead, Carrie Houchins-Witt, Art Roche, Katie Roche, Zach Twardowski and my very patient and wonderful men Joe, Liam and Atticus Dutcher.

You all give me hope and that is the most beautiful gift we can share with one another.

RIII in the Press-Citizen

Many thanks to Jeff Charis-Carlson at the Iowa City Press-Citizen for a wonderful, comprehensive article about our upcoming pop-up abridged activist reading of Shakespeare’s Richard III!

From the article:

Although Donald Trump won Iowa by almost 10 percentage points on Election Day, for some Iowans the upcoming presidential inauguration kicks off not a season of celebration but a “winter of our discontent.”

There are marches and other protest events scheduled across the nation to correspond with Trump taking the nation’s highest oath of office Jan. 20 in Washington, D.C.

Some critics in the Iowa City area are lodging their protest by turning to a 400-year-old play to express their political concerns for the next four years. To them, William Shakespeare’s descriptions of King Richard III seem equally applicable to the president-elect.


Click through to read the entire article on the Press-Citizen website.

To address Dr. Hagle‘s thoughtful query in the article, our aim is to illustrate a historical comparison and to come together as a community to unite in our real concerns about our prospective leadership. I assure you, we aren’t changing Shakespeare’s lines to fit the circumstances. There’s no need to. Shakespeare doesn’t need any help from us to make a salient timely point.

Everyone, please share far and wide. We’d love for this article to draw people to the production but we’d also like our voices to be heard around the world. Iowans are paying attention and we will rise up and resist. #notmymegalomaniac

Image

#notmymegalomaniac

richard-iii-flyer-1-page-001

RIII

Iowa City’s beloved consummate theatre professional Ron Clark and I are delighted to announce a project in the works for Inauguration Day 2017.

RICHARD III, A Reading for Inauguration Day
Friday, January 20, 2017
North Ridge Pavilion in Coralville, Iowa
Doors open at 6:30 pm
Coffee, wine, and dessert
Free will offering with all proceeds going to the ACLU.

We intend that the takeaway message of this Inauguration Day performance be that we the people are not defeated by ambition’s horrific consequences. On the contrary, we are a community committed to the common good. Art allows us to take a balcony view and, from that vantage point, we are better able to discern what it is that unites us.

More details will unfold as we get closer. In the meantime, mark your calendars and always choose love.