Monthly Archives: September 2010

Opening Tonight at Actors’ and Aquinas College

There are two great shows opening tonight: Actors’ Theatre opens its 30th season with Lines: The Lived Experience of Race and Aquinas College Theatre Department opens their season with Life is a Dream – make sure you catch them both!

Lines: The Lived Experience of Race at Actors' TheatreLines: The Lived Experience of Race
a new ethnography devised by Stephanie Sandberg and Company

Founded in the actual, based on the possible, Lines brings the words of over 150 individuals from our community to life as they discuss the dimensions of diversity. This Actors’ Theatre world premiere is sure to be a powerful work of theater.

Performance Dates:

September 30 and October 1 & 2,
October 7, 8 & 9
All performances start at 8 PM

Box office hours are Monday through Friday from 1:00PM until 5:00 PM. The box office will be open from 1PM until show time on the day of performance.

To contact the box office, please call (616)234-3946 or:

Life is a Dream
by Calderon de la Barca, Adapted by Nilo Cruz

Astrological omens predict that if King Basilios’s son
Segismundo is crowned, he will become a horrible tyrant who will bring destruction to his kingdom. Basilio imprisons Segismundo for life, but decades later he decides to let his son prove his ability to defy the stars. Allowed to rule the palace, Segismundo wreaks bloody vengeance on the kingdom, confirming the prediction of the stars, and the prince is returned to prison. Is life a dream or merely an illusion?

Peformance Dates:

September 30, October 1 & 2
Show time: 8 p.m.
Additional 2 p.m. show on Saturday, Oct. 2

Call (616) 456-6656 for tickets or click here to go to the Aquinas College Theatre Department web page for more information.

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Actors’ Theatre Would Like to Thank…

Actors’ Theatre would like to send a very special Thank You to the Woodrick Diversity Learning Center for being a major production sponsor for our first show of the 2010-2011 Season, Lines: the Lived Experience of Race.

The Diversity Learning Center offers a comprehensive, integrated, cross-cultural approach to diversity inclusion. Thousands of faculty, staff, students and community members benefit annually from our wide selection of diversity driven programs, many of which receive support through efforts of community collaboration and partnerships.

The Diversity Learning Center promotes the celebration of human differences through its programs and activities:

  • Educational Programs
  • Recognition & Scholarships
  • Women’s Initiatives & Partnerships
  • Community Partnerships
  • Diversity Development Services

Actors’ Theatre patrons may also enjoy the Woodrick Learning Center’s selection of though provoking speakers. The Diversity Lecture Series is intended to give insight and understanding of multicultural issues to the West Michigan Community. The series is designed to introduce an essential component of education in helping audiences consider perspectives other than their own, encouraging civil debate, broadening the basis for critical thought and promoting cultural understanding. The Lecture Series is intended to recognize the trailblazers in the civil rights movements and those who challenge mainstream assumptions. We offer our community an opportunity to enhance mutual understanding and to build mutually beneficial relationships for the improvement or individuals and our campus and society as a whole. The series provides a forum for faculty, staff and students to deepen their knowledge and awareness of issues and opportunities for change in our global society.  (Read more about the Woodrick Learning Center Diversity Lecture Series here.)

Schedule 2010-11

All lectures begin at 7:00 pm at Fountain Street Church, 24 Fountain NE. For more information, please call (616) 234-3390.

* Free and open to the public
* On-campus parking $3.00 (with discount pass)

Click here to download a flier with the complete 2010-11 schedule.

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Can You Help?

Lines: The Lived Experience of Race has generated a great deal of community interest. In the nature and spirit of this work, Actors’ Theatre has donated 150 tickets to the community to allow those to attend who otherwise might not be able to see the production for financial reasons. We have also invited over 100 community and church leaders to a special preview performance and discussion, giving up potential ticket revenue to further dialogue on race and diversity within the community.

Participation from our community is important to Actors’ Theatre – especially so with a production like Lines – however, doing this means a sacrifice to the theatre of $6000 in potential ticket sales. We are asking you to help make up that difference. Please consider making a donation of $24 or more to help offset the cost of donating these tickets to the community.

All donors, no matter how great or small the amounts given, receive recognition in our production playbills and on our website.

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“Lines” Opens Tomorrow!

Lines: The Lived Experience of Race, the latest ethnographic piece of theater by Stephanie Sandberg (Seven Passages: The Stories of Gay Christians) and her team of devisors, opens Thursday.

Founded in the actual, based on the possible, Lines brings the words of over 150 individuals from our community to life as they discuss the dimensions of diversity. This Actors’ Theatre world premiere is sure to be a powerful work of theater.

Performance Dates:
September 30 and October 1 & 2
October 7, 8 & 9
Show time is 8:00PM.

Meet The Artists

Stephanie Sandberg, Director & Devising Team Leader

Stephanie Sandberg

Stephanie was the driving force behind the 2007 production of Seven Passages: The Stories of Gay Christians, which was subsequently turned into a DVD. Stephanie holds a PhD in Dramatic Arts from UC, Santa Barbara and is an Associate Professor at Calvin College in Grand Rapids. Among her many accomplishments are the co-adaptation for the stage of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility and dramaturgical work with University of the South, New Dramatists (NYC), and 78th Street Theatre Lab.

Other directing credits for Actors’ include the direction of last season’s production of Frozen by Bryony Lavery and the 2006 production of Elizabeth Rex.

Rena Dam, Ensemble Member

Rena Dam

Rena was born in Grand Rapids but has lived overseas almost all of her life. She is used to standing out in a crowd as a white person. During her time at Calvin College, Rena overcame her nervousness about being surrounded by white people, but it was only the process of adopting her daughter that impelled her to delve into racial understanding. Recently, Rena and her family have lived in GR for almost three years. They continue to grapple with issues surrounding race in the North American context. This is Rena’s first show at Actor’s Theatre. She would like to dedicate it to her two children as they begin their own journeys of navigating racial identity.

David Ellens, Ensemble Member

David Ellens

David is a 24-year resident of the Southeast side of Grand Rapids. His life thus far has been insulated in whiteness, and the arrival of his Ethiopian nieces in the last two years has brought about his first sustained relationships with people of color. Now he’s trying to unearth the roots of that reality. His first active memory of race traces back to age 6, when his Halloween candy was stolen out of his hands by two black boys on bikes; a fairly innocuous event in the scheme of a life, but one that planted a seed that he still wrestles with, if only subconsciously.

Edye Evans Hyde, Ensemble Member

Edye Evans Hyde

Edye moved to Grand Rapids as a child in the racially turbulent 1960’s. She always has believed and advocated for inclusion as a young adult and was proud of her many diverse relationships. Edye also believes that one cannot understand another person’s reality in life unless one understands their own personal history and reality. “Finding those realities never happened for me in school, but thru conversations with my mother and performing wonderful stories of African American struggles and accomplishments on stage.” Edye’s theatrical performances for Actor’s Theater include principle roles in the Grand Award nominee Blues for an Alabama Sky, and Intimate Apparel. Other productions include, A Women Called Truth, Ragtime, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, Dream Girls, Ain’t Misbehavin’, and Having Our Say.

Julianne Howe-Bowens, Ensemble Member

Julianne Howe-Bowens

“I am an American who happens to be Haitian-born. I was adopted by white missionaries, went to a white school, primarily white churches, had mostly white friends, dated mostly white guys, married a white man, and I even ‘talk white’. It’s not the norm, but I’m comfortable because I am who I am; unique. I have always known about racism but was pretty much able to ignore it growing up. Before this project, I had never heard of white privilege, but I’m probably one of the few people of color who has been able to get in on many of the benefits because my culture I grew up in is upper-middle class white. This experience has forced me to examine myself and what prejudice I may carry which is the first step to affecting change. Thank you for taking the first step by coming to this show.”

Jean Reed-Bahle, Ensemble Member

Jean Reed-Bahle

Jean has been involved with Actors’ Theatre since it began thirty years ago – as an actor, playwright, director, workshop leader, board member. She has taught in the theatre departments of GRCC, Aquinas, and for the past fifteen years, at Hope College. She is again grateful to be working on this important ethnography, having been part of Actors’ Theatre’s Seven Passages devising team. “I grew up on the west side of Grand Rapids, and while I didn’t experience much diversity as a child, I did have a taste of what it felt like to be “different.” Admitting to having Russian heritage in the 50’s got me called a “Communist.” However, that was the last time I experienced outsider status.”

Lewis Richards, Ensemble Member

Lewis Richards

Lewis was born in East Grand Rapids and was home-schooled; kindergarten through high school. He is an employee of the YMCA & Grand Rapids Ballet. He studied African Dance at the University of Ghana, taught dance in the Philippines, as well as taught theatre in Turkey. He also performed improve theater in Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Lewis has been involved in many community and professional theater productions. He was the choreographer or assistant choreographer for Seusical the Musical, High School Musical 2, Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah, Music Man, Sound of Music and Esther the Musical. This is his first show at Actors’ Theatre. He’s excited to be part of a show that is dedicated to erasing lines of injustice in the city of Grand Rapids.

Calin Skidmore, Ensemble Member

Calin Skidmore

Calin Skidmore is both thrilled and proud to be working again for Actors’ Theatre and Stephanie Sandberg. He was a member of the devising team and original cast for Seven Passages, as well as co-screenwriter for it’s film adaptation. Other main stage credits at Actors’ include Corpus Christi, The Rocky Horror Show, Bach at Leipzig, A New Brain and The Little Dog Laughed. He also served as Assistant Director for Frozen and has been a part of the Living on the Edge series as a playwright and director. He has also appeared locally with Circle Theater, Civic Theater and The Theater Project at the BOB. Calin works as a Booking Agent with MP Talent Agency in Grand Rapids. “I owe great thanks to all who have pushed me to question and challenge the world around me; my parents and siblings, friends old and new, and to my amazing wife Noddea, who makes everything better. And again, this one is for TB; “greatly missed, though ever-present.”

Lorna Torres, Ensemble Member

Lorna Torres

Lorna has been involved with Actors’ Theatre for 2 years. She was last seen in The Clean House as Matilde. Thank you to my family, Mami, Rolando, Emily, Henry, and Papi in heaven. “I’ve lived in Grand Rapids for 26 years. I moved from the Yalie community of New Haven, Connecticut. Both my parents are from Puerto Rico, but I was born in New Haven.”

Michael Travis, Ensemble Member

Michael Travis

“My parents came north in 1944 from Natchez, MS, like so many other black families in attempt to get away from the racist tension in the south, only to find less overt, but more damaging racism of the north. We were not a poor family, as we had two incomes, but we were broke because we always got what we wanted. The more things change the more things stay the same and racism is a constant that continually needs to be explored.”

Actors’ Theatre thanks our major production sponsor:

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“Lines” in the Grand Rapids Press

Did you see? Director and divisor Stephanie Sandberg was interviewed in the Grand Rapids Press recently about the first show of Actors’ season.

Actors’ Theatre to open new season with ‘Lines: The Lived Experience of Race’
Published: Sunday, September 26, 2010, 5:11 AM
Sue Merrell | The Grand Rapids Press

Stephanie Sandberg

GRAND RAPIDS — Crossing the line is a tradition at Actors’ Theatre, so it seems only fitting that the theater should open its 30th season with the world premiere of a locally written play, “Lines: The Lived Experience of Race.”

“A lot of people don’t like the word racism,” said Stephanie Sandberg, who has written and directed the play based on interviews with 162 area people.

“I’m the first to say I have racist tendencies because of white privilege,” she said. “I’ve taken lots of training to overcome racist attitudes, but it’s not enough to go to the training. You have to take action. Am I doing something to change the status quo? Otherwise I am complicit.” <…Click here to read the rest of the article online…>

Tickets for Lines: The Lived Experience of Race are available at the Spectrum Theatre box office at (616) 234-3946 or can be purchased online.

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