Tag Archives: The Rapidian

Great Article about the New Ambrosia Theater!

Actors’ Theatre is excited about all the fantastic independent theatre happing in Grand Rapids! The amount of entertainment our fair city has to offer is just staggering. Check out this great article on the rapidian about Ambrosia theatre that opened this summer!

Here’s an excerpt, then hop over to rapidian.org to read the full article and see some photos of the theater:

Ambrosia Theater works to provide small, intimate, flexible performance space
by Holly Bechiri (Holly)

Sarah Mayne has been running Bellydance Grand Rapids (959 Lake Drive SE) in the Blackport Building on Lake Drive for 10 years starting on the first floor until seven years ago when she moved to a larger space upstairs. But as her dance business grew, so did her need for a performance space to accompany it.

Not finding many options already available, Mayne openedAmbrosia Theater this summer on the second floor of the Blackport building, right next door to the bellydance class space.

“All of my dancers needed a performance venue, and we were lacking in someplace intimate and small,” says Mayne. “So I took on the crazy endeavor to build one.”

The entire space, which seats 72, is newly created, from the hardwood floors to the handmade sconces to customized doors made locally. She designed the space to be fully configurable, which makes it able to house multiple kinds of meetings and performances.

(Click here to read the full article.)

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Austin Bunn, Playwright of RUST, Interviewed on WYCE

Catalyst Radio: Grand Rapids writer Austin Bunn talks about the making of his documentary play, “Rust,” and his personal discoveries during the process.

WYCE by WYCE Radio 88.1 FM (WYCE) on Friday Jan 13th, 2012 11:30am in LOCAL LIFE in collaboration with Linda Gellasch and The Rapidian

Click here to go to The Rapidian website to listen to the entire interview, or download it to listen later.


Local writer Austin Bunn spends time on Catalyst Radio this week to talk about his documentary project “Rust.”

Playwright Austin Bunn (left), with actors Paul Walsh, Chris Nye, Rena Dam and Ella Swift, on the set of "Rust" /Photo credit: Eryn Kovach-Sprenger

When Bunn moved to Grand Rapids to become Assistant Professor of Writing at Grand Valley State University, he was shocked as a newcomer to Michigan over how hard the state has been hit by the shrinking of the manufacturing industry.  The closing of a local GM plant, eliminating 1,500 jobs, prompted Bunn to undertake the documentary project, which began its first run as a play at Actors’ Theatre this past fall.

Bunn used the medium of a documentary play to actually bring to life the voices of those hit hardest by the auto industry’s demise — the workers who made a living working in the factories. “Rust” draws from actual interviews Bunn conducted with workers, following the shut-down of that local plant.

Some of those interviews also appear in a New York Times Magazine article published last week, entitled “End of The Line.”

Bunn also talks about having been a journalist, and how the news industry, as well, is suffering a diminishing and changing role.


Music featured this week on Catalyst Radio is from local troubador Drew Nelson, from his 2009 disc Dusty Road To Beulah Land, with the song “Stranger.”

Nelson’s upcoming album Tilt-A-Whirl is scheduled for release next month.

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Filed under In The News, Plays and Productions

the rapidian Talks With Manufacturing Workers After the Opening Night of RUST

Did you know that several of local people that were interviewed for RUST attended opening night?  Jeremy Moore from the rapidian was there and spoke to them to get their reactions to the play.  Below is an excerpt of the article, go to therapidian.org to read the entire article and see post-show interviews with Gary Albrecht, Marty Green and Al Berry.

Local manufacturing workers react to Austin Bunn’s “RUST”

by Jeremy Moore on Tuesday Oct 4th, 2011 in OPINION

Video interviews with Gary Albrecht formerly of Rowe International, Marty Green of GM and Al Berry of Michigan Works! following the first performance of “RUST” by Austin Bunn.

“It was a good run,” said Marty Green, former employee of the General Motors Metal Fabrication plant in Wyoming, Mich. Marty sums up much of the sentiment radiating from “RUST.” Namely, that the era of Michigan-as-titan-of-industry—of sweaty, hard-working, hard-playing autoworkers assembling cars bolt by bolt is now gone. It was a simpler era where the American Dream could be mainlined right out of high school. All you needed was a proclivity for trades, a willingness to get dirty and work hard, and maybe have family working at the plant to get you in. Austin Bunn’s “RUST,” playing till Oct. 8 at Actors’ Theatre (160 Fountain NE), seems to give the passing of that era a name, an era that is being replaced by something different: a smaller, advanced workforce capitalizing on mechanized assembly and off-shore markets.

Marty and Gary Albrecht were both featured in my prior article on the closing of the GM Metal Fabrication Plant. In interviews of Marty and Gary following the opening night of “RUST,” they accept and even embrace the change in their lives caused by massive job losses in the manufacturing industry. Al Berry of Michigan Works!, instrumental in the retraining of displaced manufacturing workers, was also interviewed. He spoke to opportunities that await many former autoworkers. Gary makes it a point to say that the plant closings and loss in manufacturing jobs in Michigan is not a tragedy; to call it a tragedy dilutes the word and is disrespectful of the real tragedies we all face. Instead, Gary, Marty and even Austin in the play seem to give into the idea that plant closings layoffs, and changing careers is the stuff of life. And it is precisely this stuff we must accept, shrug our shoulders and move on to the next adventure that awaits us. (…)

Be sure and go to therapidian.org to read the rest of the article and watch the videos!

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Review of “Denali” in the Rapidian

The Rapidian reviewed last month’s workshop performance of Denali written by local playwright Austin Bunn.  This was a special one night event held in the Spectrum Theatre’s black box space.  Here is an excerpt from their review:

Denali: Local playwright’s hot little number in sub-zero setting

“People give you things so you’ll open the door. So they can see inside.”

On Nov. 5, local playwright Austin Bunn gave 50 of us at Spectrum Theater’s black box space the gift of a high-stakes plot and intricately connected characters in the form of Denali. He gave us the gift of seeing inside the struggles of real characters in very human circumstances (albeit with a literally monumental background of Mount McKinley, the highest point in North America), the combination of which epitomizes why we all fell in love with the theater in the first place: to experience a compelling story. ()

Be sure and read the rest of the review here on The Rapidian’s website.

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Actors’ Theatre in the News with “Lines”

As you may have heard, Lines: The Lived Experience of Race, was a huge success!  We want to thank everyone who came out to support this new and innovative work.

Be sure and check out this article about Actors’ Theatre’s first production of the season in The Rapidian!


The cast reenacts an Institute for Healing Racism simulation that illustrates dividing lines between races. Photo Credit: Lindsay McHolme


World premiere of Lines: The Lived Experience of Race

by Lindsay McHolme (lindsmcholme) on Thursday Sep 30th, 2010 in LOCAL LIFE

“The American Dream is not for everyone,” chanted cast members at the Wednesday night dry run of Lines: The Lived Experience of Race.

“This is not a country that people can pull themselves up by their bootstraps,” the cast continued.

Over the past two years, Stephanie Sandberg and Company conducted 162 interviews focused on racism with Grand Rapids community members like Mayor George Heartwell, activist Jeff Smith known for his work with the Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy, entrepreneur Tami VandenBerg who co-owns The Meanwhile, and Dr. Randal Jelks, a former history professor at Calvin College.  Their goal was to come up with a model for the type of community they wanted to create and to get to the root of the lines of racism drawn in Grand Rapids.

“It was a personal challenge for me too,” Sandberg admitted.  “I realized I had a lot of bias and privilege, and I needed to confront that.”

Cast member, Michael Travis, whose family has suffered racism in silence, felt that the entire process of interviewing and acting out others’ words has been cathartic.

The multi-racial cast consists of director & devising team leader, Stephanie Sandberg; ensemble members, Rena Dam, David Ellens, Edye Evans Hyde, Julianne Howe-Bowens, Jean Reed-Bahle, Lewis Richards, Calin Skidmore, Lorna Torres, Michael Travis; and original percussion composer, Hugo Claudin.

As the lights dimmed, the slanted stage glowed with projections of criss-crossed lines, city boundaries, and quotations. The backdrop flashed astounding statistics like: “Grand Rapids ranks 44 out of 331 metro areas for racial segregation.” (…click here to read the rest of the article on The Rapidian website.)

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