News/Blog

Announcing Season 14 at Williamston Theatre!

I am so pleased to announce the 2019-2020 Season lineup for Williamston Theatre.

This season we’re deliberately and enthusiastically presenting a slate of plays that will run the gambit from big laughs, to big thoughts, to big tears.  Working around a couple of key themes like empathy, compassion, and the idea of being open to a world wider than our own, we’ve got six pieces from some fantastic playwrights that I just can’t wait to share with our community.

 

The Safe House
By Kristine Thatcher

October 3 through November 3, 2019

In 1982, Bridget returns home to Lansing looking for a respite from a failing NYC acting career, and a troubled, abusive marriage. Longing for the comfort of a stay with her grandmother Hannah, what she finds is a family struggling with change.  Hannah, the strong, independent matriarch of the family, is no longer as self-sufficient as she was: The challenges of aging have caught up with her, and her family is at odds on how to best ensure her safety.  With gentle humor, honesty, and heart, this play is a beautiful examination of family, transition, and the importance of being there for each other. 

Williamston Theatre’s first production of a play by Lansing’s own Kristine Thatcher.

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A Christmas Carol: The Radio Show
By David Albert

November 21 through December 22, 2019

It’s Christmas Eve, and with the actors snowed in and unable to make it to the studios of WXMS for the live radio performance of A Christmas Carol, the sound effects man decides to take the audience through the classic tale himself. A rollicking, creative adaptation of Dickens’ classic work that is sure to warm the hearts of even the chilliest audience members. This one-man tour de force features WT favorite Aral Gribble as our endearing and engaging storyteller.

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900 Miles to International Falls
By Annie Martin
A World Premiere

January 30 through March 1, 2020

The year is 2054, and our world is unrecognizable: aliens, war, and a congratulatory sheet cake for each baby born. In this future, a woman’s work is never done but always vital.  Tanya remembers a world where there was more than war, though, and refuses to surrender her son to the chaos surrounding them now. When she befriends a new young mother she thinks she’s found an ally…. but the universe has other plans for them.  This compelling drama explores mothers, sons, and the importance of connections.
Contains adult content and language.

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These Mortal Hosts
By Eric Coble

March 26 through April 26, 2020

“Don’t get in the car”, the voice said.  So, Meaghan didn’t.  And then her world turned upside down.  After a tragedy devastates tiny Dove Creek, Colorado, the Mysteries begin. Earl can’t explain the change coming over him… Phyllis knows the impossible has become possible, and… is the voice in Meaghan’s head still her own?  Three seemingly random strangers find themselves thrust together at the center of the Mysteries as their lives, and bodies, hurtle them toward events far beyond their comprehension.  But what are the Mysteries?  Whatever is happening, the whole town is suddenly swept up in events of epic proportion, and the question is: Are they preparing for a miracle, or are they succumbing to madness?  A riveting exploration of faith and community in small-town America.
Contains adult content and language.

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Alabaster
By Audrey Cefaly
A National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere

May 21 through June 21, 2020

Alice, a noted photographer, sets out to explore the topography of scars, and the women who bear them. Her journey takes her to the mysterious realm of an undiscovered folk artist, June, who is hiding herself away on a small farm in North Alabama. What begins as an artistic collaboration between the two women becomes an intimate exploration of love, grief and longing.  This bittersweet portrait explores the meaning and purpose of art and the struggle of the lost and tortured souls that seek to create it. Hilarious, heart-wrenching and full of theatre magic, this play will rip your heart out, make you laugh, and remind you to hold close the people in your life.
Contains adult content and language

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Be Here Now
By Deborah Zoe Laufer

July 9 through August 9, 2020

Bari’s always been a bit of an angry, depressed misanthrope. When she loses her job teaching nihilism in New York, and has to work a local dead-end job in her rural hometown, she spirals into despair. Suddenly, her recurring headaches manifest bizarre, ecstatic, almost religious experiences, and they’re changing her entire view of life. She’s in love! She’s almost… happy! When she finds out the headaches are also killing her, she must decide whether it’s better to live a short, joyful life, or risk a lifetime of misery. And she must also ask herself… what’s it all for anyway?  A wonderfully funny and heartwarming tale that asks the question “We know how life ends, so can’t we enjoy the beauty in now?”

Quick update

This last month has been such a whirlwind! So many things to be grateful for, exciting challenges at work and at home.

After my birthday my sister-in-law Jackie, my brother Dominic and my daughter Maggie threw a surprise birthday party for Jeanne and me (my beautiful wife’s birthday is a few days after mine!) So many wonderful people came, it was enough to get me all choked up. Maggie played her “get them to the restaurant” role perfectly, too – I never saw it coming! Jeanne and I are so lucky to have so many wonderful people in our lives, it’s just such a blessing.

To Quiet The Quiet has been going well at the theatre. It’s a powerful, dark piece that makes people uncomfortable. I’m okay with that, sometimes that’s what theatre should do. The cast, director and production team really produced beautiful work and the way audiences are responding, it’s paid off. We close it tomorrow!

Speaking of the theatre, we are getting close to being able to announce next season, and I love it. More to come on that soon – but first we still have to get through more of THIS season! I love the season selection part of my job, and have been reading so many plays lately. There just isn’t a lot better than a curling up on the couch with couple cups of coffee and a good play in the morning, y’know?

Other positive things:

My daughter turned 21! I made her take a picture of the server carding her at HopCat. 🙂

In less than 60 days I will be in Germany visiting my son Max! He’s going to introduce me to his wonderful host family, who kindly offered to house me for my stay! I’m excited to have him show me around his part of Germany, and to meet his friends. Then we’re going to Italy for a couple of days to visit our former exchange student Tommaso, who is at university in Milan now. I’m really looking forward to this trip, and time with Max. I can’t speak of German, but I’ve been working on my Italian again. Il mio italiano non est buono, but I’m enjoying it!

Hug the people you love today, folks. I say that a lot, but with good reason. Take a minute from the craziness of life, and count a few blessings. Really: take a second and breathe, and think on a few things, and a few people, that are wonderful in your life. Then go and make sure the people you listed know they’re on your list.

The Big Five Oh!

I don’t know about you, but I’m now voting that the best way to finish up a birthday is to relax on the couch after everyone is asleep, with a drink, snuggled up in your Heat Miser/Snow Miser pajama pants, your Star Trek t-shirt, and a Superman wool cap. (What can I say, my family and friends KNOW ME!!)

What a day! Had first preview of To Quiet The Quiet by Christy Hall, which went wonderfully. Was surprised at the end of the preview talkback by cast, crew and staff presenting me with a birthday pie and the whole audience singing happy birthday to me! (Yes, birthday pie. Pie is better than cake – MY PEOPLE KNOW ME!)

Turned 50 today. What a great day! FIFTY! Amazing. 5 years ago today I was in a coma, and my family was going through hell, but being supported by so many wonderful people. I am SO grateful to be here for another birthday, and to be able to spend it with so many awesome people. Thank you to everyone who sent birthday wishes today!

So, I sit here, a bit after midnight, finishing my drink and the brownie that my daughter left me (with a candle in it and a match so I could blow out one last candle before bed,) just watching the snow fall out the front window. Peaceful, quiet. (The drive home wasn’t, but I made it!) Now I can hear the furnace humming in the basement, and occasionally a cough or a gentle snore can be heard from one of the bedrooms. FlipFlop, our schnoodle dog, just padded out and flopped down onto my feet. I re-read the wonderful birthday message my son sent me from Germany.

I don’t know what the future holds, or where we’ll all be in 5 years.

I know that 5 years ago was a nightmare.

I also know that this, though, this right now, is perfect.

Thanks, Universe.

Marking the day

It was five years ago today that I collapsed at home and was taken to the hospital, marking the beginning of an ordeal that changed my whole life. If you don’t know that story, click here!

It seems crazy that it was 5 years ago – it feels like it just happened, but at the same tine it feels like it was a lifetime ago.

I am so grateful to the amazing people in my life who helped my family and I through that time. As awful as that was, it taught me how wonderful people can be, and how precious our minutes are. As I enjoy these extra innings of my life, I hope you all remember to enjoy your lives too. Love loudly, savor the world around you, every moment you can. Be a force of awesomeness and drag people in your wake! There is so much beauty to see, so much joy to share, so many people to embrace, and such an unknowably finite amount of time in which to do it – Be Relentless!

Recharging… a giant exhale, and too many pictures

Whether you think of it as recharging your batteries, or refilling the well, getting some down time is so important in your self-maintenance!

This fall was a great time – so much going on at work and at home. It was also, however, exhausting! I had a blast: launching our 13th season at Williamston Theatre, directing the first two shows of the season and a workshop of a new musical as well. Plus of course we’re prepping for the rest of the season and selecting next season and planning some other cool things we’ll be announcing soon, so it’s been busy.

With all of that, Jeanne and I have also been busy at home, getting one kid off to Germany for his gap-year-exchange program, and the other off to U of M, and getting a new exchange student from China living with us. Life has been great, but busy, and I really found myself getting a little burned out. SO – this last few weeks has been an amazing wonderful time of mental and physical rest and relaxation. A lot of deliberate “refilling the well”. Over the holidays we had so much terrific family time, and even though I miss Max terribly it’s so nice to be able to FaceTime with him in Germany and see him having a ton of fun on his year abroad.

We hosted our extended family for Christmas this year, and our family tradition of “Whoever hosts cooks a dinner from another culture or country and surprises the guests with it”, and it was a ton of fun. We made an amazing Indonesian dinner of soup, chicken satay, baked fish, cauliflower fritters, everything turned out so good! Here’s a shot of the Soto Betawi, a delicious beef soup:

We were really pleased with the dinner! I love this tradition we have, and every year it’s an adventure.

Before the holidays, I got lucky and was able to do a little traveling. The National New Play Network was having the annual conference and new play showcase in Sacramento, and coincidentally some friends were getting together for a few days of birthday celebration in Yosemite National Park right before the conference, so I was able to fly out and do both. I will just say this: If you are looking to recharge your batteries, refill your well, find some peace and a reminder of your place in the universe, go to Yosemite and just soak in the amazing atmosphere of the place. Truly. It’s one of those places that inspires awe, humility, wonder and peace. And being able to enjoy it with friends made it even better.

After Yosemite, I had a wonderful time being inspired by the incredible artists at the NNPN New Play Showcase. So much good work, and so many talented and dedicated people devoting time and energy to it. I can’t really announce anything yet, but I will say that the showcase definitely helped me nail down some decisions on Williamston Theatre’s Season 14 lineup! Plus, I got to visit the new B Street Theatre facility, which was gorgeous, and Buck Busfield and his staff were fantastic hosts for the conference. It was my first time to Sacramento, and it was delightful.

Between Christmas and New Year’s Day was a wonderful bunch of time with my family, too. Maggie and Jeanne and I watched a bunch of movies, I got to relax and just spend a couple days reading books (and, yes some plays!) and just enjoying being able to sit with the dogs curled at my feet! Currently reading a small stack of plays and going between a couple different books The Tao of Bill Murray and Collected Essays of E.B. White.

We also took a great trip to the Detroit Institute of Arts. It’s been a couple of years since I had been there, and it was wonderful. Again, a place that fills you with energy, excitement and awe. Spending a day there just immersing yourself in what people are capable of. The ingenuity, the beauty, the craftsmanship, the passion.

I hope you’re all able to find the time to recharge as well. Go, refill your well. It’s not a cure-all, but it helps. Taking time to soak in some of the joys of life helps you deal with all of the crap that’s NOT joyful! I mean, even though these pictures and this post so far have that stupid social media “man, everything looks great there” sheen, all of the hassles of life are still there: Bills are mostly getting paid, but they’re getting bigger, stress about jobs and family is there for all of us, my health challenges are always always always knocking on the door, etc…. The same things that the 99% of us deal with daily. But don’t forget to take care of yourself, and do a little self-maintenance now and then – it frees up your mind to create, free associate, process and just breathe! Take the time – go somewhere that provides you the opportunity to have your breath taken away a few times. Spend a day with some tea and a re-read of your favorite book, or re-watch your favorite movie. You’re worth it.

A time to be both thankful and helpful.

This week I wound up spending time at Beaumont Hospital in Trenton with an ailing family member.  All is well, everyone is back home and doing well, but times like that are stressful, and worrisome, and one of the things that stands out the most when you look back is the giant amount of HELP and KINDNESS given by so many people.  A big THANK YOU to the wonderful staff at Beaumont Trenton, you guys rock.

Between that event, and Thanksgiving and the holidays coming up, it’s a time of year that we all start thinking of others.  Probably we start thinking of them in a way that we should think all year.  I know I do.  I look around and I think about how amazingly fortunate I am, how lucky I am to be loved by people, to have friends and family I can count on, and to still be here in my very own Bonus Levels.  I also, though, am very aware that I could be doing more for others.  Does anyone else feel this?  The kindness of the Beaumont Hospital staff reminded me that a little effort can go a long way when people are in need, and sometimes it’s the smallest of gestures that makes a difference.

Everyone is busy, we’re all working too much and overwhelmed with life and plans and challenges and politics and that’s just the way our lives ARE nowadays.  One of the ways to help slow down, make OUR lives better, is to help someone else.  I don’t do enough of that, but I’m going to try to do more.  If anyone wants to join me, here are some resources that a colleague recently shared with me:

  • To volunteer at your local soup kitchen, click here
  • To donate a meal to food-insecure senior citizens, click here
Got any other suggestions on ways we could all, even in our over-scheduled lives, help make a difference?  Let me know, share them with all of us in the comments.