Category Archives: Elgin arts

One Two Punch – Twelfth Night Finishes Opening Weekend

We had Wilde. Then we had Shakespeare.

We just finished the opening weekend to Twelfth Night by Shakespeare and everything went fantastic. The actors, set, lighting and sound all came together for a memorable weekend.

Following the strong performances of The Importance of Being Earnest during the first week, this was a wonderful opportunity to add to the acting chops already on display during our Rep series at the Elgin Art Showcase.

What can I say? This is one strong acting company. From the leads to the supporting roles, everyone has shined throughout the process and delivered some wonderful work. Now both shows will start alternating nights, which is where the real fun begins. But first, we need an audience.

That’s right. I said it. Audience. Sure, we’ve had people come out and see the work, but when you start seeing more empty chairs than people, it starts to wear on you.

Sometimes I am surprised to find that the arts destination that is Elgin is regrettably lacking in support of the artists. Sure, this is a longer run than one weekend and we know that the classics are not everyone’s cup of tea, but still, attention should be paid when a modest theater company tackles something so large.

Well, westward ho, as the saying goes. Here are some pics from Twelfth Night, courtesy of John Congram.  Makes you want to call the Box Office right now – 847-841-1713. Doesn’t it?

Chris Bibby as Sir Toby and Justin Schaller as Sir Andrew

 

Liz Vanderhoof as Viola

Joe Hoover as Malvolio

 

Ross Patrick Frawley as Orsino

 

Kate Donoghue as Olivia and Tyler Thompson as Feste

 

Going From Dark To Light

This Thursday the Elgin Short Play Festival will begin its second year. In many ways it will be a departure from previous Janus productions.

This year we’re cracking a smile.  

You see, the last few seasons we’ve produced a steady diet of what some people might call “heavy drama” or plays that leave you feeling a bit cathartic. It started in 2009 when produced Oedipus Rex, Miss Julie, Romeo & Juliet and then continued in 2010 with Macbeth, The Guys, and the short plays of Theresa Rebeck. Sure Rebeck’s plays were funny, but they were also pretty dark.

So for 2011 the sun will be coming out – in full force. It starts with this week’s short comedies from David Ives – a master wordsmith, who loves to turn the world of a play upside down. 

Janus is no stranger to Ives. This is our third encounter with the master’s work. Every time we produce his plays, something new is discovered. And these plays are a perfect start to the summer season.

Following Mr. Ives, we’ll be producing our first summer rep series when we present two classic comedies in August – The Importance of Being Earnest and Twelfth Night. Good times. 

So you may be asking, why the change? Where’s the vengeance of Medea or the melancholy meanderings of Hamlet or the fiery defiance of Antigone?

Well, like any good meal, you need to have an appetizer before the main course. And frankly, the last few years have been nothing but large meals full of starch. I sure do love a wonderful Fettuccini Alfredo (with a side of crusty bread), but sometimes you just want some cheese and crackers and a glass of Sangria. Or maybe just the Sangria.

Page To Stage Another Play

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.

Ride The Next Wave

Something different this way comes.

This Saturday night at the Haight Building in downtown Elgin, come and check out over 100 artists display their work in this old warehouse. This is a new event sponsored by the Downtown Neighborhood Association and the Palmer Foundation and theme for the show is “work”.

Janus Theatre will be a part of the event and will present some short pieces in a former loading dock area, which leads into the show. Here’s some more info about the piece and more about the salon.

ANK: Attempted Not Known
Whether in love or life at home or in the office, we’re all working our way out of the mystery box.

Directed by Terry Domschke
Sound Design by Jimmy Lundstrom
Featuring: Elaine Castro, Ross Frawley, Henry Honshul, Scott Mills, Jocelyn Mills, Jeanette Spink and Mitch Jacobs

The Next Wave Art Salon brings together artists of all different backgrounds and mediums in a “found space” at 166 Symphony Way in downtown Elgin. This free event is open to the public on Saturday, September 11 from 6-10pm.

The Art Salon is geared to attract artists of all genres, from visual to performance, with innovative approaches to their art form. This is a radically-inclusive event, so that means all work is permitted. Three $1000 prizes will be awarded.
 
For more information on The Next Wave Art Salon, visit thenextwave.me or call 847.488.1456.

A Little Help From His Friends

Janus Theatre founding member, Terry Domschke, is producing a show. 

Actually, it’s a concert, featuring celebrated Polish pianist Aleksander Kurkowski.

Terry Domschke

The event is called “Tribute to Chopin” and will be playing at the Elgin Art Showcase tomorrow, June 6, starting at 3pm. Tickets are $15. You can pay by cash or check at the door. For reservations, call 847-697-7139.

If you like classical music in an intimate setting, this would be an excellent opportunity to experience the Showcase in a whole different way.

I talked with Terry this week while he was actively promoting the event and he said he’s pretty excited about the whole thing as well as a little exhausted from talking about it so much. But, of course, that’s the way of arts marketing: repetition, repetition, repetition.

To learn more about the event go to this link.