Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sirius Rising at Riverside Theatre

Join us next week for a play reading for Sirius Rising, a play by Cedar Falls playwright Gwendolyn Schwinke on Tuesday, April 7 at 6:30 pm. You're also invited to stay after the reading for a talkback with the playwright.

Sirius Rising is a play about the practical magic of long-term relationships woven together with the Egyptian myth of Isis and Osiris. As a flood of epic proportions descends on a rural farm community, four women discover that human connection is their only shelter against the storm.

According to Schwinke, audiences will get the chance to see familiar characters during the reading. "I wanted to bring to the stage the farm women that I know: smart, strong, full-blooded and funny," said Schwinke. "Although the characters are dealing with more extreme situations than most of us face, they remind us that we can live through tragedy with courage, humor and love."

Sirius Rising has been selected for inclusion in new-play festivals at Seattle Repertory Theatre, Judith Shakespeare Company in New York City, The Jungle Theatre and The Playwrights' Center in Minneapolis.

The reading will feature four of the actors appearing in Riverside Theatre’s current production of Raising Medusa - Kristy Hartsgrove, Jody Hovland, Nancy Youngblut, and Jaclyn Johnson; as well as Ron Clark.

Playwright Gwendolyn Schwinke grew up on a farm in Missouri, has lived in Minneapolis and New York City, and now teaches Theatre at the University of Northern Iowa. She feels that her play offers something for everyone. "It’s a little bit murder mystery, a little bit ancient myth, and a little bit love story. And there's a lot of humor in it."

For more information about this free reading on April 7, please call the Riverside Theatre Box Office at 319-338-7672 or visit www.riversidetheatre.org. Hope to see you there!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Jaclyn Johnson, Raising Medusa, and Threes....

First things first! I am Jaclyn Johnson and I have the distinct pleasure of acting in Raising Medusa which opens on April 2nd. I play multiple roles in this production but I am predominately known as Chorus Member Three. Voice 3 is what they call me for short. I like being a Three. Three is an influential number; things (good or bad) come in threes, the "rule of three in comedy," there are three Fates, three Graeae, three Gorgon sisters (no apologies here, I'm on a Greek kick). I think threes are special. So I will begin with a three...

Three weeks ago I climbed into my trusty Toyota Camry and began driving south. Four and a half hours later I arrived in the fair Iowa City and after settling myself into some lovely and inspiring temporary housing, I nestled into a clean, new script. It was beautiful, with clean pages, aside from the multi-colored steaks of high-lighter that popped words and directions my way. These gleeful affections were fleeting however, and in no time that clean script went to the dogs. Now it sits atop my desk, barely noticed, messy with X's and arrows, old blocking notes and new blocking notes, inserts, re-writes, and scotch tape. Three weeks from the day I drove down, I have a new script. More multi-colored streaks and deliberate blocking reminders delicately written in margins grace the pages. Again, the days are numbered. Shortly after I get this majestic, clean script, it is time to be off-book. Sure, I still enjoy the beauty of it while I sit at home working lines, but gone are the days of reading and walking, gone are the days of "wait, I gotta find my pencil," gone are the days of "what page is that?" Here are the days of "LINE?"

So here we are, over three weeks in, new scripts in bag, and there are new lines to learn, old lines to unlearn, blocking that doesn't work any more and moments that need clarity. It always makes for exciting rehearsals. I wasn't going to acknowledge, mostly for my own benefit, that while we are over three weeks into rehearsals, we are also less than a week away from opening. I've done productions that had a week to complete everything from first read-thru to opening night, and I know it will be plenty of time. Yet, at the end of each rehearsal, once I am headed home to think about the scenes we worked today and the issues we will face tomorrow, I know I have a lot of work to do.

With a group of such bright, fun and inspiring colleagues, this rehearsal process has been crazy good fun (and good pretzels). I am having a blast contributing to this production. Since this is a new play, there are constantly more and more questions popping up. While that can be frustrating at times, with all this constant discovery, a metamorphosis is occurring right before my eyes. I'm certain even Ovid would be impressed. *wink* And thank Zeus it evolved so much. Even though I like my nice clean script, I don't really want to show it off. I would much rather share the play with you. I've always been better at acting than I am at highlighting and penmanship.

This is my third (wow! Those magical threes!) premiere production I've done with Riverside Theatre. First I was Lydia in Keith Huff's Prosperity in 2005. Then Barbara Miller in Bruce Wheaton's Kinnick. Third, the lucky number Three in Barbara Lau's Raising Medusa. I thank her for giving me my first Greek Chorus personality. I have previously played multiple characters in plays and it is always such fun! In Raising Medusa, I play five characters in the show, three of which are reoccurring. Although I'm anxious about getting all my costume changes right, I will be proud to present Barbara's words to an audience later this week. I hope you are able to share this creation with us. It is a beautiful orchestration of poetry and theatre, power and love, strength and security.

- Jaclyn Johnson

Raising Medusa
opens this Thursday at 7:30 pm - reserve your tickets today! Call the box office at 319-338-7672 or visit www.riversidetheatre.org

Friday, March 27, 2009

An Interview with Barbara Lau...

Looking for more information about Raising Medusa? Check out an MP3 of today's interview with playwright Barbara Lau on KCCK's Culture Crawl. Barbara talks about the process of taking her play from poems to a full blown theatre production.

Raising Medusa opens at Riverside Theatre next Thursday, April 2nd at 7:30 pm. Tickets are on sale now - call the box office at 319-338-7672 or visit www.riversidetheatre.org

Check back next week for more behind the scenes looks at the play, as well as links to local press coverage. Hope to see you at the show!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Thursday Theatre Talk - Raising Medusa

Curious about Raising Medusa? Wondering how this play is going to blend realistic contemporary scenes with traditional elements of Greek theatre? Wondering who Medusa is... and what she has to do with a rebellious teenager?

Then make plans to attend next week's Thursday Theatre Talk - March 26th at 5:30 pm!

Join host Miriam Gilbert, University of Iowa Department of English and Robert Ketterer, UI Department of Classics, for a FREE discussion of the classical myth, as well as the larger question of why dramatists and composers turn so often to the classics for inspiration and adaptation. This "TTT" starts at 5:30 pm at the Gilbert Street Theatre.

Want more information about the show? Visit our website!

Tickets are on sale now - for more information, call the box office at 319-338-7672.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Walking the Wire Opens Tonight!

Don't miss Walking the Wire! It opens tonight, and will be here for one weekend only! Still not convinced that a "tasty" evening of monologues with a food theme will satisify your "hunger" for theatre? Read below for some preview articles from local newspapers.

Check out articles in the Press Citizen, on CorridorBuzz.com, and in The Daily Iowan.

Tickets are going fast... call 319-338-7672 (or order online) and reserve yours today!