Here’s a nice piece by Daily Herald writer Jaime Greco about the latest installment from the Elgin Cultural Arts Commission Page To Stage series, featuring a stage reading of a new play – Broken Glass – by Chris Bibby.
This is the first play written Bibby and it features Janus members Catie Early, Sean Hargadon, Lori Holm and Steve Macarus. Should be an interesting weekend filled with lively discussion. The event is free. Check out the story below.
The events of Sept. 11, 2001 caused people to consider many things; Christopher Bibby, author of the play “Broken Glass,” was no different.
“I started studying the events which had political motivations, but at the time I was looking at the religious underpinnings and the fact that we have so many minorities in the U.S.,” Bibby said. “And I began to wonder if people with fundamentally different religious views could ever live in peace, or is it inevitable that we destroy each other?”
The Hoffman Estates resident chose to examine these questions through the lens of another horrific chapter of world history: the Holocaust. “I wanted to write a play about the small decisions that happened before the Holocaust,” he said. “I wanted to write about how did we get here. Why did it happen?”
“I just got to thinking, these were people like me and you, how could they do this?”
The play examines the relationship between two friends — Martin Hottl, a Catholic cobbler and Jozef Pac’zynski, a Jewish shopkeeper — during the time of Kristallnacht, the titular beginning of the Nazi’s campaign against the Jews.
“Kristallnacht,” which means Night of Broken Glass, took place in Nazi Germany and parts of Austria in 1938 when SS Storm troopers and civilian mobs attacked Jewish homes, businesses and synagogues with sledgehammers, causing the streets to be full of broken glass.
As director, Robert Pahl was responsible for casting all of the roles, a task he was more than prepared to carry out.
“I’ve been in theater in this town for a long time, so I’m familiar with the talent pool here,” he said. “I’m fortunate to have access to some of the better actors around.”
Pahl chose Sean Patrick Hargadon to bring the Catholic Cobbler to life; an actor well known in the Elgin Theater community, especially with Janus Theatre Company, where he acts and directs on a regular basis.
As for The Jewish shopkeeper, Pahl chose Steve Macarus, another familiar face to Elgin theatergoers, although Macarus is known more for his comedic work, according to Pahl.
“I’m interested to see what he will do,” he said.
Hottl and Pac’zynski were not just characters woven from his imagination, Bibby said. They were based on his relationship with a friend who holds very different views on life.
“It started based upon a friend and I (who) would have theological discussions,” Bibby said.
The talks began in the spirit of an open-minded exchange of ideas, but that premise degenerated and the friends needed to address whether their relationship could continue.
“I found that the more we talked, the less we could talk about,” said Bibby. At one point, they reached an impasse.
“We worked past that, by avoiding certain topics, I’m afraid,” he said.
“Broken Glass” will be the first full-length play Bibby has seen produced and will be free to the public as part of the Page to Stage series sponsored by sponsored by the Elgin Cultural Arts Commission, Elgin Art Showcase, and city of Elgin.
As with all of the Page to Stage shows, the works are approached with little to no production. The actors will read from the script onstage and interpret it dramatically.
“The actors have long passages memorized,” said Pahl. Aside from the format’s affordability, the production style gives new authors a chance to see their plays produced, while giving audiences the chance to participate in the development of a new play through question and answer sessions after the show.
Bibby is excited to see his play through the eyes of the director, actors and audience, especially in the low-key format.
“I liked that (‘Broken Glass’) was about personal decisions,” Pahl said. “It wasn’t this big miniseries or movie about the Holocaust.”
“It’s about incremental decisions, how it sneaks up on you and you find yourself in the middle of something horrible.”
Cast members include Lori Holm of Batavia; Catie Early of East Dundee; Sean Hargadon, Steve Macarus and Miranda Savel of Elgin; Dylan Martin of Geneva; Tony Farruggio of Lisle and Patrick Pantelis of Palatine.
The free shows are set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 29, and Saturday, April 30, as well as 1 p.m. Sunday, May 1, at the Elgin Art Showcase, 164 Division St., eighth floor. A reception and question-and-answer session with Bibby, Pahl and the cast will follow each show at Villa Verone, 13 Douglas Ave., Elgin.
To learn more about Page To Stage and the Elgin Cultural Arts Commission, visit cityofelgin.org.