Tag: Lawrence University theatre arts

12,000 Voices: A reading of “12 Angry Men” by 12 impassioned women






“It made me realize, oh my goodness, it’s about how important each of our voices are.”

Associate Professor of Theatre Arts
Kathy Privatt

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

The voices of thousands of women will ring out from stages across the country from April 5 to 8, part of a nationwide effort to draw attention to the power of one’s voice when it comes to participating in the electoral process and speaking up for justice in the judicial system.

The 12,000 Voices project is an opportunity to push for voter registration — it’ll come on the heels of the April 2 election that has Wisconsinites voting on, among other things, a State Supreme Court justice as well as Court of Appeals and Circuit Court judges — and to remind people of the powerful responsibility that comes with being an American citizen, not the least of which is voting and jury duty.

In Appleton, the effort is being led by Lawrence University’s Kathy Privatt, the James G. Ethel M. Barber Professor of Theatre and Drama and associate professor of theater arts, and Maria Van Laanen, president of the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center.

Privatt will direct a reading of 12 Angry Men, featuring 12 women from the Fox Cities in the roles of the jurors, set for 3 p.m. April 6 in the Kimberly-Clark Theatre inside the Fox Cities PAC.

It will be one of many such readings taking place at performance centers, college campuses, high schools and community centers across the country during that four-day period.

12 Angry Men focuses on a single juror who stands up for a defendant he believes is about to be wrongfully convicted. The film was released in 1957, 16 years before the last of the 50 states allowed women to serve on juries. The message in these readings with all-female casts — the dream is to eventually get 12,000 women involved — is about embracing all of our responsibilities as citizens.

“It’s about how we live our lives, and in this case, how we live our political lives,” Privatt said. “But in a completely nonpartisan way. We live in a democracy. That means that jury duty is important. It means that voting is important, that that’s part of being an American.”

Kathy Privatt and Maria Van Laanen hold a 12,000 Voices sign.
Kathy Privatt (left) and Maria Van Laanen are leading the “12,000 Voices” effort in Appleton.

In the movie, which would later debut as a Broadway play in 2004, the holdout juror in a murder case raises his voice for justice against intense pressure from his jury peers.

“It made me realize, oh my goodness, it’s about how important each of our voices are,” Privatt said of the classic film. “And that that’s what democracy rests on, that we’re willing to engage with our voices, that we’re willing to be in conversation with each other.”

Van Laanen, who spearheaded local participation in the project, will be in the cast, joined by 12 other women (12 as jurors, one as the guard), all in local leadership positions:

Kimberly Barrett, vice president for diversity and inclusion and associate dean of faculty at Lawrence

Becky Bartoszek, president and CEO of the Fox Cities Chamber

Tracy Bauer, music director and teacher at Mishicot High School

Lisa Cruz, president of Red Shoes PR

Alison Fiebig, corporate communications manager of U.S. Venture

Karen Laws, longtime community leader and philanthropist

Lisa Malek, co-host and producer at WFRV-TV

Linda Morgan-Clement, the Julie Esch Hurvis Dean of Spiritual and Religious Life at Lawrence

Karen Nelson, diversity coordinator for the City of Appleton

Colleen Rortvedt, director of the Appleton Public Library

Jennifer Stephany, executive director of Appleton Downtown Inc.

Christina Turner, president of the Trout Museum of Art and the Building for the Arts.

Maria Van Laanen, president of the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center

The 12 Angry Men reading with an all-female cast was first done in New York a year ago. It drew such a buzz that organizers floated the idea of stretching it across the country.

“When I heard talk in New York about this program and what it achieved when it was done a year ago, and the fact that they were going to try to make it a nationwide effort, it just really rang true to me,” Van Laanen said. “It is so important that we understand that one voice does make a difference, and we need to make sure we are finding a place where we can speak our mind and yet be open to being influenced by other people.

“And 12 Angry Men is a great example of that. You have 12 people with divergent views coming in and really working through, conversationally, how you discuss differing views, and then take that information and find a consensus.”

The League of Women Voters is partnering with the Appleton effort. Attendees will have an opportunity to register to vote or confirm their voter registration information at the April 6 event.

These are fractious political times. Advocating for participation in the process, for sharing your voice in constructive conversation, for raising your hand to participate is part of the message coming from the 12,000 Voices project.

“One of my favorite quotes of all time is from Tennessee Williams when he talks about theater being truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion,” Privatt said. “To me, that’s the heart of theater right there. Whatever it is, whether it’s a happy story or a sad story, whether it’s a rip-you-to-shreds kind of story, once we put it into the fictional, all of a sudden, it’s a little bit more palatable. And this feels like one of those moments where we can absolutely use the pleasant disguise of illusion to talk about something that is really central to who we are as a nation, and who we perhaps aspire to be.”

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu

On Stage

What: 12 Angry Men, a reading performed by 12 impassioned women, part of the nationwide 12,000 Voices project

When: 3 p.m. Saturday, April 6

Where: Fox Cities Performing Arts Center, downtown Appleton

Cost: Free (RSVP on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/events/400996640712037/ or at http://foxcitiespac.com/events-tickets/tickets/events/12,000-voices

More information on 12,000 Voices: https://12000voices.com/

Shakespeare classic gets gender, time period twist in theatre arts production of “The Tempest”

A William Shakespeare classic gets a gender and time period twist in Lawrence University’s production of “The Tempest.”

Four performances will be staged in Stansbury Theatre Feb. 15-17 with an 8 p.m. show each night and an additional 3 p.m. matinee on Saturday, Feb. 17. Tickets, at $15 for adults, $8 for students/seniors, are available through the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749.

scene from "The Tempest"
The spirit Ariel (Cristina Sada Segovia, center) speaks to Prospero (Caro Granner, far left) while two of Ariel’s spirit followers (Chad Leverson, Johanna Kopecky) look on. Photo by Billy Liu.

Written in 1610-11 and widely believed to be Shakespeare’s final play, “The Tempest” is filled with trickery and magic, romance and revenge.

In this production, director Aram Monisoff, lecturer of theatre arts at Lawrence, set the play in the late 19th-century “Steampunk” era to fully contrast the heavily industrialized noblemen who crash onto the island with the more naturalistic natives. The sorcerer Prospero, the deposed ruler of Milan, is cast as a female sorceress, but with the same name.

“By changing the role of Prospero to a woman, it allows us the opportunity to present ‘The Tempest’ as an exploration of a mother-daughter relationship,” explained Monisoff, a 2008 Lawrence graduate.

The basic storyline of “The Tempest” remains.  Set on a remote island, Prospero uses magic to conjure up a storm, for which the play is named. A ship containing her enemies, Alonso, the king of Naples, and his entourage, struggles to stay afloat during the storm. Prospero’s goal is restore her daughter Miranda to her rightful place by using trickery and manipulation, resulting in the marriage of Miranda and King Alonso’s son, Ferdinand.

Scene from "The Tempest"
The savage slave Caliban (Chris Follina) emerges from his cave. Photo by Billy Liu.

“The character of Prospero, the enigmatic and all-powerful magician, is believed by some to be a representation of Shakespeare himself — as playwright, actor, and producer all rolled into one all-powerful magus,” said Monisoff. “Whether true or not, ‘The Tempest’ dives into the mysteries of life in a timeless and profound way.”

The play, according to Monisoff, “celebrates the awesome curiosity and capacity of the human mind and exposes the fears, anxieties and self-serving impulses that threaten to overwhelm it.”

“Prospero, who has devoted her life to knowing all there is to know about the universe, must fully confront how much she knows about herself and others,” said Monisoff. “Knowledge alone is not enough to heal the wounds caused by her insular thinking and selfishness in her past as ruler of Milan. Prospero’s journey is one of returning to the fold, to society itself and to her own humanity. That which makes us human, as Shakespeare shows us time and time again, is our struggle to reconcile the enormity of our dreams with the exquisite vulnerability of our brief lives.”

Sophomore Caro Granner from Evanston, Ill., plays Prospero, while New York City sophomore Samantha Torres portrays Miranda. Senior Jenny Hanrahan, Johnsburg, Ill., is cast as King Alonso while Appleton native Oscar Brautigam plays the king’s son, Ferdinand.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

 

 

 

Theatre Arts Dept. presents “The Burial at Thebes”

The conflicts between individual freedom and the security of the state, as well as the limits of divine and civil law, get a theatrical examination in Lawrence University’s production of “The Burial at Thebes,” Seamus Heaney’s version of Sophocles “Antigone.”

Four performances will be staged in Stansbury Theatre Oct. 26-28 with an 8 p.m. show each night and an additional 3 p.m. matinee on Saturday, Oct. 28. Tickets, at $15 for adults, $8 for students/seniors, are available through the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749.

Scene from the play "The Burial at Thebes"
Junior Ming Montgomery portrays Tiresias, a blind prophet who predicts a calamity if King Creon does not allow Antigone to properly bury her fallen brother. (Photo by Billy Liu)

The play was commissioned by Dublin’s Abbey Theatre in 2004 by Irish Nobel laureate Heaney as a response to the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the on-going struggles to settle peace following the Good Friday Peace Accord in Northern Ireland. Though originally produced in ancient Athens, the play’s characters — Antigone, her sister Ismene, her fiance Haemon and her uncle Creon — seem as current today as they did in the 5th-century BCE.

The production uses the visual imagery of early 20th-century Calabria, Italy, which was destroyed by an earthquake in 1905, to evoke a society recovering from massive disruption, as ancient Thebes was recovering from civil war.

The central character, Antigone, the daughter of Oedipus, learns that her brothers, Eteocles and Polyneices, have killed each other after being forced into opposing sides during the Theban civil war.

Creon, the king of Thebes, grants Antigone permission to bury Eteocles, who supported the state, but not Polyneices, who fought against it. She defies Creon to provide Polyneices peaceful passage to the underworld. In retaliation of her defiance, and against his advisor’s caution that his action could anger the gods, Creon orders Antigone to be buried alive.

“At a moment in history when we are struggling profoundly to find ways to compromise with each other, the story of Sophocles’ ‘Antigone’ remains as relevant as ever it was,” says Adriana Brook, assistant professor of classics, who served as dramaturg for the production. “It reminds us of the terrible price that we might pay if we cannot or choose not to make space for the quiet and courageous voices urging us toward moderation and mutual understanding.”

Scene from the ending of the play "The Burial at Thebes"
Senior Liam McCarty-Dick, as King Creon (lower right corner) realizes the curse he has placed on himself by putting his law above the expectations of the gods. (Photo by Billy Liu)

Timothy X. Troy, Hurvis Professor of Theatre and Drama, who is directing the production, hailed Heaney’s adaptation as “a masterpiece.”

“It’s such a great joy, indeed a great good fortune, to have a version of ‘Antigone’ that preserves the general themes and core conflicts of the original, while speaking in a clear contemporary voice,” said Troy. “Only a great poet like Seamus Heaney could produce such a masterpiece as “The Burial at Thebes.”

Senior Jenny Hanrahan, Johnsburg, Ill. portrays Antigone and senior Liam McCarty-Dick, Madison, plays her uncle, the king Creon. Antigone’s sister Ismene is played by sophomore Flora Aubin, Columbia, Md., while freshman Oscar Robert Lunday Brautigam, Appleton, portrays Antigone’s fiancé Haemon.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

 

 

Wild Space Dance Company wants you to get “Caught up in the Moment”

Sound, music and movement intersect to create a moving work of art in Milwaukee-based Wild Space Dance Company’s performance of “Caught Up in the Moment” Friday, March 31 at Lawrence University’s Stansbury Theatre.

Tickets for the 8 p.m. show, at $15 for adults, $10 for seniors, $8 for students, are available online or through the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749.Four members of the Wild Space Dance Company performing a dance from the program Caught Up in the Moment.

The performance unfolds in interconnecting vignettes of shifting solos, duets, trios and quartets as audience members share the stage with the eight dancers as they invent impromptu movement set to eclectic, improvised live music by percussionist/composer Tim Russell and saxophonist/composer Nick Zoulek.

Choreographed by Artistic Director Debra Loewen and intern Nicole Spence, dancers sing, hum and create sounds with costumes and props to create textured layers of sound and music while Russell and Zoulek respond to interlocking dances.

“Each element — sound, music and movement — inspire and respond to each other during the creative process,” said Loewen. “This performance captures those moments of invention and connection as they happen. Having the audience on the stage puts them in the center of this artistic interplay and offers opportunities for dancers to create something unique to their interaction with the audience.”

Wild Space has been as an artist-in-residence at Lawrence since 2000, teaching dance classes, theatre movement workshops and choreographing for selected productions.

Founded by Loewen, Wild Space Dance Company is celebrating its 30th season of inventive performances and innovative outreach programs. Known for site-specific works and artistic collaborations, Wild Space takes audiences on adventures through built and natural landscapes, visual art, history and the human condition through wry humor, clever choreography and emotionally-charged dance.

It has toured performance work to Chicago, Minneapolis, New York, South Korea and Japan.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.