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.
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 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 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 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
“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 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 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 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 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
“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: