Monthly Archives: September 2009

A Scene In Between – Topdog/Underdog

Steve Taber, Marcus Woodswelch, Fred Sebulske at Schuler Books

Steve Taber, Marcus Woodswelch, Fred Sebulske at Schuler Books Downtown

September 28th Actors’ Theatre held its first “A Scene In Between” for TopDog/Underdog at Schuler Books Downtown. The event was a huge success!  The conversation was so fascinating that when moderator and Board Member Steve Taber announced that our hour was up, everyone looked up in surprise – it had just flown by!

What is “A Scene In Between”?  It is a gathering of people who are interested in learning more about the current production. Anyone is welcome – whether they have already seen the show or whether they are considering it and want to learn more.  The crowd on Monday consisted of those who had seen TopDog/Underdog, those who had only read the script, and those who were completely new to Actors’.  All season long Schuler Books will be hosting these events on the Monday nights between performance weekends.  Our next event will be for Frozen and will be held on Monday, December 7th at 6:00 pm.

A Scene In Between

A Scene In Between

It seemed particularly fitting to meeting in a bookstore during National Banned Book Week to talk about a play that had been placed the Challenged Book List of 2007.  Though it was a cold and rainy outside, the conversation inside the store was lively. Topdog/Underdog director Fred Sebulske and actors Sammy Publes and Marcus Woodswelch joined the enthusiastic group to talk about issues raised in the play.  Participants discussed culture, race, and sibling rivalry in Topdog.  Marcus, Sammy and Fred also gave their personal insights and talked about the language of the play, the preparations they went through in the rehearsal process and motivations behind their characters.  It was an educational and entertaining evening and those who participated said it gave them a deeper insight into the play.

A Scene In Between

A Scene In Between

Please note that although the cafe’ was closed this Monday due to larger than expected ArtPrize crowds, the Schuler Books Dowtown is now serving beer and wine.  So, please grab a glass of Merlot and join us for our next A Scene In Between in December!

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Actors’ Theatre at Eastown Streetfair

Board Member Will Gearring shows off our new Actors' shirts

Board Member Will Gearring shows off our new Actors' shirts

Had you been out shopping the fantastic Eastown Streetfair on Saturday, September 19th you would have seen our brand new Actors’ Theatre booth!  Board members and their friends were there in their Actors’ t-shirts, greeting passerbys, giving out information and hosting a drawing for a free Season Ticket!

The weather was wonderful and the people were even better.  The Streetfair  was an excellent way to get out and meet new folks and remind our community of the variety of arts organizations that our city has to offer.

You may notice the big clear “Mr. Peanut” jar on the corner of the table.  It will also be appearing in the lobby during our shows and events.  Everyone knows the Michigan economy has been hit hard – and the recent governmental cuts on arts funding is making it even tougher.  That’s why we need your help… and your spare change!

Past President Maureen Kirkwood, President Lisa Baars and Secretary Dawn Highhouse meet the folks of Easttown

Past President Maureen Kirkwood, President Lisa Baars and Secretary Dawn Highhouse meet the folks of Easttown

While it may be “peanuts” to you, your loose change can help Actors’ Theatre.  If you see our peanut jar, please consider tossing in a quarter or two – we’d appreciate it!

We had many, many entries to our Season Ticket drawing.  On September 23 we announced our winner – Conor Mulhall.  Congratulations to Conor! Actors’ Theatre has an exciting season ahead, starting with the Pulitzer Prize winning TopDog/Underdog.  We’ll see you all there!

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TopDog/Underdog – The Grand Rapids Press Review

Photo by: Delbridge Langdon Jr., The Grand Rapids Press

Photo by: Delbridge Langdon Jr., The Grand Rapids Press

Be sure and check out Lorilee Craker’s review of TopDog/Underdog. Have you seen the show?  Be sure and comment on the GR Press site and give everyone YOUR review…

Actors’ Theatre’s ‘TopDog/Underdog’ is a tale of brotherly shove

by Lorilee Craker of The Grand Rapids Press

September 25, 2009

Cain and Abel. Jacob and Esau. Stories of brothers at odds go back a long way, and Actors Theatre’s season opener was a potent, raw and disturbing reminder of such conflicts.

“It was me and you against the world,” the younger brother said to the older brother, referring to a time years ago, after their parents had left them to fend for themselves.

In some ways, as “Top Dog/Underdog” opened on the Spectrum Theater stage Thursday night to an audience of 150, Booth (Sammy Publes) and Lincoln (Marcus Woodswelch) still only really had each other…  (Read more at mlive.com)

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Filed under Actors' Theatre Reviews, In The News

Script Analysis For Actors and Directors

Eric Dawe, Instructor

Eric Dawe, Instructor

Actors’ Theatre is at its heart all about the actor.  As such, we continue to offer workshops designed for actors, directors, playwrights and anyone who is interested in learning more about the stage.  We are proud to offer a new workshop this fall on script analysis.

This three hour class is suited for both actors and directors who want to develop some useful, systematized techniques for analyzing a script for both character and story development. The content will include discussion on how actors and directors should approach a script; actualizing thematic elements of the script through character actions and interactions to give unity, vitality, and drive to the production; techniques for discovering the psychological motivations of the characters and to create the dramatic tension that will engage both the actors and the audience throughout the production.

Sign up now!

This course will be held Saturday, October 10th at 9:00 a.m. to Noon
Contact Actors Theatre at (616)234-3817 to attend.
Cost is $20.00

Eric is an award winning writer, actor, and director with more than thirty years of musical, comedy, drama, and directing experience. He has performed throughout the United States and Europe, and has studied with Douglas Campbell, co-founder of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. His stints locally include Actors’ Theatre, Jewish Theatre Grand Rapids, Heritage Theatre, and the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre. His most recent ventures include playing ‘Mr. Bungee’ in ‘A New Brain’ with Peppermint Creek Theatre, for which he won a Pulsar Award; directing ‘Macbeth’ at Riverwalk Theatre, which was the highest grossing production of the season; in November, he will play ‘Ivan’ in ‘The Seafarer’ for Peppermint Creek; and next March, he will direct ‘The Watch List’ for Riverwalk Theatre, his own original stage play which won the C.T.A.M. Regional Playwriting Competition in 2005. His first novel, ‘Aeneas, Last King of Troy’ will be published this fall.

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From the President

A Scene in Between at Schuler Books Downtown

A Scene in Between at Schuler Books Downtown

Welcome to our 29th season of “meaty” theatre.  This year sees a return to truly thought provoking works that can be produced with an eye towards the bottom line of our budget.  Fiscal responsibility and belt tightening are the way of the world, especially for non-profit arts organizations such as Actors’.

We are opening the season with Topdog/Underdog by Suzan-Lori Parks winner of the 2002 Pulitzer Prize.  This play tells the story of two brothers and the back and forth competition between them played masterfully by two GRCC Alumni, Sammy Publes and Marcus Woodswelch, both familiar faces from past seasons at Actors’. We are grateful for the support of the Bob and Alicia Woodrick Diversity Learning Center at GRCC who are sponsoring this production. Without their support we would be unable to continue providing our community with such innovative theatre.

We are also very excited to be partnering with Schuler Books & Music this season for a series we are calling “A Scene in Between”.  This will replace our Friday Night Talkbacks and take place at Schuler Books Downtown store at 40 Fountain NW, on the Monday between our two performance weekends. The first mid-Monday in the series will be September 28th at 6:00pm and will feature a scene and/or discussion of the current production Topdog/Underdog which coincides with “Banned Books Week”.  As you may remember it was suggested to Grand Rapids Public Schools that this play be ripped out of a textbook being used by City High.  Thankfully cooler heads prevailed and this did not happen.

Notice in the lobby we have placed a “loose change jar”, just to relieve you of all those noisy rattling coins.

Always keep in mind:  “What would Grand Rapids be without Actors’ Theatre-The Off-Broadway of Grand Rapids?”

Thank you so much for your continuing support of Actors’.

Lisa Baars
President of the Board of Actors’ Theatre

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