July 30, 2015

HART Presents Twelfth Night

One of my favorite annual Indy traditions is back this weekend! The Heartland Actors' Repertory Theatre is presenting Twelfth Night at White River State Park tonight, tomorrow and Saturday. The shows start at 8 pm, but the pre-show festivities begin at 6 pm. 

Every year the productions are incredible and so much fun. Professional actors take the stage for only three days during this FREE event. There will be food trucks and Sun King Brewery will be serving. Don't miss it! Visit their website here for more info.

Parking options:

1.     White River State Park underground parking garage: 801 West Washington Street (not recommended for Friday, July 31st)

•     Entrance is located between the Eitlejorg Museum and the Indiana State Museum (and across Washington Street from the Marriott Courtyard Hotel/JW Marriott complex).
•     Price: $6-$10. Mention you are with HART Shakespeare for the $6 price!
•     From the underground garage, exit the western pedestrian staircase and head west into White River State Park. The JW Marriott will be to your back and the NCAA Headquarters will be on your right. Stroll west along the canal until you reach the Celebration Plaza Amphitheatre where HART performs. The White River is our backdrop.
•     See accompanying Mobility Assistance information for a golf cart ride from the garage or from the Indiana State Museum drop-off circle.

2.     Indianapolis Zoo parking: 1200 West Washington Street: STRONGLY RECOMMENDED, especially for FRIDAY, JULY 31st

•     Zoo parking will remain open all three evenings for HART’s Shakespeare production
•     Price: $10 for general public; $6 for zoo members
•     From the Zoo parking lot, walk in between the Zoo entrance building and the White River Gardens (“butterfly”) building. Follow the sidewalk between these buildings and pass through an iron gate. You will then be on the old Washington Street pedestrian bridge. Simply walk east across the bridge (towards the JW Marriott) and the Celebration Plaza Amphitheatre where HART performs will be on your left.

Photo courtesy of HART

July 14, 2015

EclecticPond Announces 2015/16 Season

The Importance of Being Jeff
Written and directed by Jeremy Grimmer
IndyFringe 2015

Two actors, preparing for a rehearsal, are forced by the company’s board of directors to do an immediate run of an obscure two-hour classical play in forty-five minutes… without the rest of the cast. Confusion, calamity, and chaotic cross-dressing ensue.

This is our 2015 IndyFringe offering performed at one of the festivals new venues, the Firefighter's Union Hall at 748 Massachusetts Avenue. (Right next to the beer tent!) Featuring the talents of Matt Anderson and Kate Homan, and written by Jeremy Grimmer, co-writer of such ETC best-selling hits as 10x10 and Shakespeare Wrote What...?, this is one Fringe show you won't want to miss!

Titus Andronicus
By William Shakespeare
Adapted and directed by Thomas Cardwell
October 2015

By transporting the characters and events of this play to an unforgiving post-apocalyptic world, a world that is as violent as any of the characters themselves, we explore the themes of family, revenge, and legacy in a setting where loyalty to your tribe may be your only hope of survival, and death could be waiting around every corner.

It's not gore or horror for gore's sake alone, but we do not intend to shy away from the inherent violence - showing what we as humans are not only capable of, but will devolve into, in the wrong circumstances. The Indianapolis-voted number one show from last season's 10x10xYou, Titus makes for a perfect Halloween adventure.

Annual Winter "Fun"-raiser
Winter 2016

This is the spot where 10x10 normally goes, but this year, ETC is switching it up a bit with something brand new! For now it is top-secret, but stay-tuned for more fabulous details!

Mark Twain: How to tell a story
Selected stories by Mark Twain
Adapted & directed by Michael Hosp
Spring 2016

“Fresh and funny today as he was more than a century ago, Mark Twain wittily distrusted everything bogus, inflated, predictable or empty. He was a man of a thousand American parts — novelist, stand-up comic, travel writer, impresario, capitalist, full-time celebrity, and coruscating social critic — whose ear for dialogue, nuance, slang and absurdity seldom failed him.” Brenda Wineapple, The New York Times.

For the first time, ETC will branch into the realm of classic American literature. A cast of six (three men, three women — near the beginning, middle, and end of their stories) will present a carefully crafted collection of stories by Mark Twain.

A Midsummer Night's Dream
By William Shakespeare
Adapted and directed by Zack Neiditch
Summer 2016

Next summer ETC welcomes actor/director Zack Neiditch (The Great Bike Race, Rocky Horror Picture Show) into the fold with his exciting adaptation of William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Come see what he brings to that classic tale of lovers, fairies, and rude mechanicals!

July 10, 2015

Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play

In a post-electric world with no television, smartphones or computers, what does a group of survivors talk about? They rehash old plots of Simpsons’ episodes of course! This comedy tells the story of a post-apocalyptic world through the eyes of a small traveling band of people. It’s a strange show, unlike anything else you’ll probably see this year. It provides a surreal mix of humor and poignant reflection. 

The group, huddled around a campfire, finds a sense of connectivity in their shared memories of pop culture. They also try to keep the semblance of normalcy in the formality of simple tasks. By doing things “properly” there’s the illusion of calm in the chaos.

The cast is so in synch. They convey an instant sense of comradery when you first meet them. Eric Olsen, Jen Johansen, Eryn Bowser, Paul Collier Hansen, Paeton Chavis, Rob Johansen, and Ryan O’Shea work so well together. They provide our only view into this brand new world, but through their interactions we get a feel for the whole gamut of emotions the survivors must be facing.  

The staging is unique. It’s set in the intimate Frank and Katrina Basile Stage at the Phoenix Theatre, but audience members’ chairs are circled around a small stage in the middle of the room. Before the third act begins the chairs are moved to a more traditional set up. Courtney Sale’s direction holds the production together. The three acts can feel a bit disjointed as we jump through the years, but she keeps the focus on the people at the core of the show.

For me, the first act is the strongest. It’s easily relatable, because we can imagine ourselves in their situation. Act two lags a bit as it finds its pace. We pick up seven years in the future but it takes a minute to understand the situation. The third act propels us 75 years into the future and we have a chance to witness the new society’s form of entertainment. They have woven fact with fiction to form a new collective history. 

One of the most powerful elements in the play is the fear that creeps at the edges of each scene. Even when things seem to be going along swimmingly it lurks there. It reminds us that their society was forever altered by a nuclear event and safety is no longer something you can count on. Where life can vanish in a second, the focus on providing “meaningless” entertainment gains gravity because it allows people to connect with the world they once knew and still long for. 

Don't Miss the Show 
For more information about the Phoenix Theatre, visit www.phoenixtheatre.org. The theater is located at 749 N. Park Ave., Indianapolis, just off Massachusetts Ave. 

 Performances: The show runs on the Livia and Steve Russell Stage until August 9th and offers four performances a week. Thursdays begin at 7 p.m., Friday and Saturdays begin at 8 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. 

Tickets: To purchase tickets, call (317) 635-7529 or visit phoenixtheatre.org. Prices range from $20 to $33.

Photos courtesy of the Phoenix Theatre.

July 2, 2015

AMERICAN PLAYERS THEATRE: Pride and Prejudice, The Merry Wives of Windsor and The Island

Pride and Prejudice 
This story is so well-known and beloved that any new adaptation has a high bar to hit for success. The American Players Theatre’s adaptation features a huge cast complete with lovely costumes and a delicate set which switches from a small sitting room or a ballroom in a moment.

Kelsey Brennan and Marcus Truschinski star as Elizabeth Bennet and the infamous Mr. Darcy. Their chemistry is electric, beginning with their first hostile scene all the way through the tender romance that develops. The play features a Lizzy that’s stubborn and self-righteous and whom you can’t help but love. Mr. Darcy is stormy and cold, right up until the moment when he bares his heart.
Each of the Bennet family members was perfectly suited for their role. There was the frivolous Lydia, witty Mr. Bennet, gentle Jane, and of course, the eternally high-strung Mrs. Bennet. Brennan’s interactions with her father, played by James Ridge, were subtle and gave so much depth to the family dynamic. In a single silent glance you could see their kindred natures.
The production is filled to the brim with humor and suspense. It’s a joyous show, one that has the audience laughing aloud and gasping in equal measure. It’s hard not to root for romance as you watch the restrained courtship between the different couple unfold.

One of the best shows I’ve seen at APT. The cast was enchanting, the pacing was sublime, and the audience, and I, loved every second of it.
The Merry Wives of Windsor
Falstaff, lout, over-weight drunkard, disheveled cad and an undeniable crowd favorite. The Merry Wives of Windsor gives one of Shakespeare’s most popular characters a chance to shine. This comedy introduces audiences to the upright wives of Windsor who Falstaff is attempting to seduce. His plan quickly turns on him when they realize his intents and decide to mock him for his efforts. Hilarity ensues between jealous husbands and the beleaguered Falstaff.
Colleen Madden and Deborah Staples play the titular wives with sass and unforgiving mirth towards men. Their playful comradery takes brings the audience in on the joke in every scene. David Daniel was particularly good as Master Ford, who is consumed with suspicions of his wife’s unfaithfulness. He leaned into the role, embracing the absurd and the crowd loved it. Sarah Day also shined in her role as the brassy go-between for all the play’s lovers. 
This production sprinkles songs throughout the show. They provide a welcome segue between scenes. The twilight dimmed perfectly in time for the midnight scene at the end of the show. Despite a slight rain delay, the show closed to an almost full house, showing just how much people were enjoying themselves before the unexpected break.

Shakespeare’s version of slapstick comedy still comes with a moral of the story. The entertaining show reminds you not to take your love for granted.

The Island
Apartheid in South Africa doesn’t make for light subject matter. Athol Fugard’s play focuses on an island prison that held political protestors during those dark years. The treatment they received and mental trauma they survived is incredible. Fugard manages to work humor into the show through the relationship between two prisoners who share a cell. They try to give each other hope even when life grows dark.

LaShawn Banks and Chik√© Johnson carry the show as the two prisoners. When they aren’t being worked to the bone, they are practicing a performance of Antigone for the prison’s upcoming culture night. They quickly realize that hope can be a dangerous thing in their dire situation.
Before the show even begins, audience members see the prisoners slaving away on stage while they   are attempting to find their seats and settle in. The production highlights the frustrating cycle of pain that the prisoners face each day. They perform pointless work until they’re forced to the breaking point every day. There’s no intermission and so the play pulls you in and doesn’t stop until the end.

BOTTOM LINE: Heavy but important. Learning about other cultures and experiences through theatre continues to be one of my favorite reasons to see shows.

The American Players Theatre is open until October 18 for its regular season. It will host a special show, The Game of Love and Chance, opening October 30 in its indoor Touchstone Theatre.

The theater's outdoor seats are comfortable, but definitely bring a jacket, rain parka, blanket, bug spray or sun block depending on the weather. The show will go on even if it's chilly or drizzling. There are easily accessible restrooms and concessions at both the Up-the-Hill Theatre and the Touchstone Theatre. There are also picnic tables for those who bring lunch or dinner for before a show.

There are plenty of camping/B&B/cabin/hotel options nearby, depending on your preference. You can find additional information about where to lodge, restaurants and other attractions on APT's website.

For more information about APT and Spring Green, WI visit its website. Spring Green, Wi is only 6.5 hours from Indianapolis and makes a perfect weekend getaway! There are attractions for the entire family in addition to the APT, including the Wisconsin Dells water parks, House on theRock, Taliesin and a golf resort.

Photos Courtesy of the American Players Theatre.