Thursday Talk & Other Thoughts

posted by Director Traci Brant

As we come to the end of the run of Brother of All, it was terrific to have a post-show chat with our audience last night.  Over the last couple of seasons, these chats have really developed into a great event.  We spend so many months working on a play and yet it is never complete until the audience becomes a part of the experience.  We are story tellers so without anyone to listen, there is no point in what we do.  At least that's my perspective.

Playwright Jim Henry joined us for the talk and was very open and honest about the process of this play.  I hope audience members enjoyed this very unique opportunity to engage with the playwright in addition to directors, cast and crew.  I was very impressed with the level of discourse and only wish we could do it again with more audiences.  It's very rewarding to close the loop by finding out how the play affected the patrons.  

It's always bittersweet to close a play that has been a part of your life for months. I wish we could share this moving piece of original art with more audiences.  I'll miss the incredible perfomances of the actors and the dedication of our outstanding crew.  I've been struggling with my own dissapointment that the house is not nearly full for the performances.  It's not about a need for ticket income or to feel successful.  This has most definitely been an artistic success.  We have helped to further the process of a new play and shared it with many.  I just cannot understand how an incredible community such as Valparaiso and the surrounding area is not more interested...more supportive.... more excited about original art.  The audiences here are the first to see this play. Another of Jim's plays is going up in New York later this month where patrons will be paying $75-$100 per ticket, yet we cannot fill the house for less than $20 per ticket.  

Clearly, we need to improve our communication to the public.  How can we better express the richness and rarity of this opportunity that exists in our own backyard? Community leaders, politicians, and the media need to step up and show their support if they truly believe that the arts make their community a better place... and I don't think any of them would argue the point.  They need to set an example.  And then that leads me the role of the arts in our schools which is being threatened right here and all over the country. But I digress... I leave you with this.

"I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world." -Albert Einstein

Theater is imagination. Without it, where are we headed?

Gripping Drama "Brother of All" the Play to See This Year

Theatre review by Carol Moore reposted with permission from SpotlightonLake.com

The focus of “Brother of All” is a troubled and confused young man/boy, Leonard Street (Josh Eggleston), who tells the audience that the day he became a blood brother was the best day of his life.

When a male doctor who says his name is Dr. Albert Maison (David Pera) enters the room, Leonard greets him happily, positive they’ve sent him to replace the woman doctor who was a friend/colleague of his mother, Wilma Street (Caroline Rau-Geldernick). Even though Dr. Maison frequently cites a police report, Leonard chooses not to talk about the reason he’s in the hospital or the horrific event that sent him there.

Instead, Leonard talks about his childhood, his adored older brother, Jonathan (Jordon Chaddock), and the Cherokee heritage of his blood brother, Wohali/Thomas Joseph (Timothy Thomas Gleason). The boys met and bonded with Wohali when their mother sent them to camp for the summer. A counselor, Mr. Mason, became a father figure to the boys. Their friendship thrived in spite of their mother’s objections to ‘that dirty Indian boy’.

As time passes and they grow up, their mother has plans for them, plans that do not include Wohali. Jonathan becomes a nurse, he gets a job and moves away, leaving Leonard home alone with their mother. When she finds out that Leonard has dropped out of school to work as a mechanic, she ‘arranges’ for him to get sick so she can use him as her test subject in a new study.

“Brother of All” is the kind of layered story that only gradually reveals vital information. While Leonard is re-living his own personal horror story, he can still recount touching and humorous memories with Jonathan and Wohali. The landscape of Leonard’s mind is well represented by the mostly bare stage scattered with odd objects. Although I thought I’d figured it out, in the end everything I thought I knew was wrong.

By the way, if you live in northwest Indiana, you don’t have to travel to see good theater. Our thriving theater community includes many theater professionals who have ‘retired’ for one reason or another.

Billed as CTG’s resident playwright, Jim Henry is also a member playwright at Chicago Dramatists. Another of his plays, “7th Monarch” (produced at CST in 2001) will open Off-Broadway in New York City at Theatre Row's Acorn Theatre later this month. His first play, “The Angels of Lemnos,” won a Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Work. The play ran for five months in Los Angeles receiving an L.A. Times Critic's Choice, rave reviews from Variety, and a Robby Award for Best New Play.

“Brother of All” which runs through June 9th at CTG’s Chicago Street Theatre in Valparaiso, is northwest Indiana’s play to see this year! Congrats to Directors Traci Brant and Jonni Pera.

Meet the Playwright: Jim Henry

Name: Jim Henry 

What is your idea of happiness? The process of pursuing a worthwhile goal

What is your idea of misery? Watching someone you care about struggling or in pain

What is your greatest fear? Loss of someone I love and care about

What characteristic do you most admire in others? Honesty

What characteristic do you dislike most in others? Envy

What is your chief characteristic? Loving, giving, helping others 

What is your principle fault? The feeling that I’m not good enough… that I’m inadequate

What do you do to relax? Sleep 

Favorite color? Alizarin, no, it’s really blue

Favorite flower? I only know like 4 flowers, so I don’t know why I’m thinking so hard.  Sunflower. 

Favorite food? Lasagna 

Favorite drink? Vodka Martini. No, Cosmopolitan.

Favorite swear words? What the f**king f**k! 

Favorite author? Tom Robbins

Favorite play? The Beauty Queen of Leenane

Coffee or tea? Tea

Tent or luxury hotel? Tent, no f**k that.  I love camping, but I hate being in a tent, so let’s go luxury hotel. No, tent. 

Cats or dogs? Are you f**king kidding me?  That’s an insult.  The only cat I would have would be dead and stuffed on my mantle.   In my play Angels, a cat is killed, and I enjoyed it.  So does the audience, they love when that cat gets killed.  I think I’m a dog guy.

Cake or pie? Pie

Sledding or surfing? Surfing

Standing up or lying down? Lying down if it’s a surfboard.

Who is your hero in real life? My wife Dona

If you could travel back in time to visit any time in history, when would it be?  The first Led Zeppelin concert 

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment? 8 kids, 5 grandkids 

What is your motto? Attitude is everything

Meet the Actors: Tim Gleason

Name:  Timmy G.

Role in Brother of All: Wohali (Thomas Joseph) 

What is your idea of happiness? Laughing hysterically

What is your idea of misery? Watching someone’s feelings getting hurt 

What is your greatest fear? Not being able to communicate

What characteristic do you admire in others? The ability to listen

What characteristic do you dislike in others? Cruelty 

What is your chief characteristic? Enthusiasm

What is your principle fault? Disorganization 

What do you do to relax? Closing my eyes, feeling the wind 

Favorite color? Red

Favorite flower? Ginger

Favorite food? Cinnamon Dolce Latte

Favorite drink? Sassafras Tea

Favorite swear word(s)? Fudge bucket

Favorite author? Martin McDonagh

Favorite play? The Pillowman

Coffee or tea? Both

Tent or luxury hotel? Cabin? 

Cats or dogs? Dogs

Cake or pie? Pie

Sledding or surfing? Surfing

Standing up or lying down? Standing up

Who is your hero in real life? My daughters 

Favorite character you have ever played? Katurian (The Pillowman)

Character you would most like to play? Alex (A Clockwork Orange)

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment? Stay-at-home Dad for 4 years

If you made up a legend, what would the title be? A Spirit, Unbroken

Favorite thing about working at Chicago Street? Hugs before performances

Favorite line in Brother of All“Damn those freaks.”

What is your motto? …live.

Meet the actors: Marcia Gienapp

Name:  Marcia Gienapp 

Role in Brother of All: Ensemble 

What is your idea of happiness? Scuba diving on a reef teeming with life

What is your idea of misery? Spending time in Best Buy 

What is your greatest fear? Drowning in a swamp 

What characteristic do you admire in others? Honesty

What characteristic do you dislike in others? Pretentiousness

What is your chief characteristic? Pragmatic

What is your principle fault? Negativity 

What do you do to relax? Make quilts 

Favorite color? Purple

Favorite flower? Blue hydrangea 

Favorite food? Buttered noodles

Favorite drink? Beer 

Favorite swear word(s)? Dang

Favorite author? Peter Hessler 

Favorite play? Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? 

Coffee or tea? Coffee 

Tent or luxury hotel? Luxury hotel

Cats or dogs? Dogs 

Cake or pie? Cake

Sledding or surfing? Surfing

Standing up or lying down? Lying down 

Who is your hero in real life? How can a negative, pragmatic person who hates pretentiousness have a hero?

Favorite character you have ever played? Mrs. Rittenhouse (Animal Crackers)

Character you would most like to play? The ingénue in anything—but I guess it’s too late. 

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment? Raising my children into awesome young adults

If you made up a legend, what would the title be? The star mother

Favorite thing about working at Chicago Street? Getting to know such a variety of people

Favorite line in Brother of All“Not another made-up egg story.” 

What is your motto? I’m sorry.  You’ve mistaken me for someone who cares.

Meet the actors: Jordan Chaddock

Name:  Jordan Chaddock 

Role in Brother of All: Jonathan Street

What is your idea of happiness? Good, funny conversation

What is your idea of misery? Crowds of people on a hot day… see Taste of Chicago

What is your greatest fear? Spiders 

What characteristic do you admire in others? Wit 

What characteristic do you dislike in others? Stupidity

What is your chief characteristic? Humor

What is your principle fault? Lack of compassion

What do you do to relax? Read

Favorite color? Orange 

Favorite flower? Zinnia 

Favorite food? Blueberry Pie

Favorite drink? Green Tea

Favorite swear word(s)? F*ck

Favorite author? Kurt Vonnegut

Favorite play? The Iceman Cometh 

Coffee or tea? Tea

Tent or luxury hotel? Depends on who’s paying

Cats or dogs? Dogs

Cake or pie? Pie.  Anyone who says cake is lying.

Sledding or surfing? Neither 

Standing up or lying down? Standing up

Who is your hero in real life? Josh Eggleston  

Favorite character you have ever played? Mercutio (Romeo and Juliet)

Character you would most like to play? Iago (Othello)

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment? Getting Heather to agree to marry me 

If you made up a legend, what would the title be? I don’t make things up

Favorite thing about working at Chicago Street? Professionalism.  People take it very seriously. 

Favorite line in Brother of All“Beats the hell out of a lizard coming out of a horse’s ass.”

What is your motto? It sounds like that’s not my problem.

Meet the Actors: Caroline Rau-Geldnernick

Name:  Caroline Rau-Geldernick

Role in Brother of All: Wilma Street

What is your idea of happiness? Singing for millions of people in the Caribbean 

What is your idea of misery? Never being able to sing again

What is your greatest fear? Losing my family 

What characteristic do you admire in others? Kindness

What characteristic do you dislike in others? Being two-faced

What is your chief characteristic? Being upbeat

What is your principle fault? Chattiness 

What do you do to relax? Watch TV

Favorite color? Purple

Favorite flower? Sunflower 

Favorite food? Pizza 

Favorite drink? Chocolate malt 

Favorite swear word(s)? Shit

Favorite author? Stieg Larssen

Favorite play? Les Miserables 

Coffee or tea? Coffee

Tent or luxury hotel? Luxury hotel

Cats or dogs? Both

Cake or pie? Cake

Sledding or surfing? Surfing

Standing up or lying down? Lying down

Who is your hero in real life? My father

Favorite character you have ever played? Emma Goldman (Beautiful Radiant Things)

Character you would most like to play? Eva Peron or Lady Macbeth

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment? My swimming career

If you made up a legend, what would the title be? Charlie and Wilson Take on the World

Favorite thing about working at Chicago Street? Being Challenged

Favorite line in Brother of All“That filthy little Indian boy”

What is your motto? Treat others they way you want to be treated

Meet the Actors: Dave Pera

Name: Dave Pera

Role in Brother of All: Dr. Albert Maison

What is your idea of happiness? Good work

What is your idea of misery? Disorganization

What is your greatest fear? Snakes

What characteristic do you admire in others? Kindness

What characteristic do you dislike in others? Arrogance

What is your chief characteristic? Arrogance

What is your principle fault? Arrogance

What do you do to relax? Watch the White Sox in my leather chair

Favorite color? Indigo

Favorite flower? Impatiens

Favorite food? Steak

Favorite drink? Alcoholic

Favorite swear word(s)? F*ck

Favorite author? Cormac McCarthy

Favorite play? Dylan

Coffee or tea? Coffee

Tent or luxury hotel? Luxury hotel

Cats or dogs? Dogs

Cake or pie? Pie

Sledding or surfing? Surfing

Standing up or lying down? Standing up

Who is your hero in real life? Jonni Pera

Favorite character you have ever played? Dylan Thomas (Dylan)

Character you would most like to play? Willy Loman (Death of a Salesman)

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment? My kids

If you made up a legend, what would the title be? Depositions on the Praire

Favorite thing about working at Chicago Street? My friends

Favorite line in Brother of All? “Got it.”

What is your motto? Do it right.