‘Elephant’s Graveyard’ Next for OCP’s Alternative Programming Series

Omaha, Neb. – A staged reading of Elephant’s Graveyard will be held at the Omaha Community Playhouse as part of the Alternative Programming series Monday, February 27 at 7:30 p.m. in OCP’s Howard Drew Theatre. The showing is free and open to the public with the opportunity for donation. No tickets or reservations are necessary.

Elephant’s Graveyard is an award-winning play that tells the true story of a tragic collision between a struggling circus and a tiny town in Tennessee, which resulted in the only known lynching of an elephant. Set in September of 1916, the play combines historical fact and legend, exploring the deep-seated American craving for spectacle, violence and revenge.

Event:  Staged Reading of Elephant’s Graveyard

Credits:  Written by George Brent

Director:  Christina Rohling

Stage Manager:  Becky McMahon

Cast

The Circus

Mark Thornburg as The Ringmaster

Karlee Currin as The Trainer

Megan Ingram as The Ballet Girl

Joshua Mullady as The Tour Manager

Brian Rocha as The Strongman

Gordon Krentz as The Clown

Jeff Horger as The Drummer

The Town

Malik Fortner as The Hungry Townsperson

Nick Zadina as The Marshal

Phyllis Bonds as The Muddy Townsperson

Tom Steffes as The Preacher

Matthew Hansen as The Steam Shovel Operator

Stella Clark-Kaczmarek as The Young Townsperson

Michael Campbell as The Guitarist

The Railroad

Kim Clark-Kaczmarek as The Engineer

Show date: Monday, Feb. 27, 2017, 7:30 p.m.

 

 

Location:  Omaha Community Playhouse (6915 Cass St, Omaha, NE) in the Howard Drew Theatre

Tickets:  The showing is free and open to the public with the opportunity for donation.  No tickets or reservations are necessary.

For more information on OCP alternative programs, contact Jeff Horger at jhorger@omahaplayhouse.com or (402) 553-4890, ext. 164.

A Season Most Short

I had once planned to call this year’s story series “A Season of Renewal”, but life had other ideas as it’s actually become my shortest season in history.

Picking up from our last tale, Lost Boy Found In Whole Foods continued its critical success into that year’s Playhouse Awards.  All of my actors were nominated for acting prizes which certainly made me proud with my first dip into the directing side of things.  We ended up taking home 4 prizes (Best Featured Actor, Best Supporting Actor & Actress, and Best Cameo by an Actress).

Success followed us to that year’s TAG Awards where Lara Marsh took home the Best Director prize in a three way tie.  I’ve laid claim to the left big toe of the statuette.

Broadway World Awards were next on the list where we ended up taking Best Actor, Director, Supporting Actress & Actor, and Best Set Design (Large Theatre).  I truly was blessed to have been involved with such an astounding production.

But for my own little endeavors as a performer, it was a long wait for my next audition.  In fact, my first audition for the season took place only a month ago.  It had been a year and a half since my last audition, the longest amount of time that had ever passed between attempts.

I auditioned for The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance at the Omaha Playhouse under the direction of Jeff Horger.  The film version is one of my favorite westerns and it’s a powerful story of a man standing on principle against the law of the gun.

For those of you familiar with the film, the play is quite a bit different than you may expect.  The play more closely resembles the short story with which the film took quite a few liberties.  Characters have different names.  Some characters in the film aren’t present in the play.  The language is a bit stronger.  Valance is considerably more intelligent.  The play is also quite a bit talkier.

My choices were pretty limited.  Originally I had been interested in the roles of Ransome Foster (played by Jimmy Stewart under the name Ransome Stoddard in the film) and Dutton Peabody, the newspaperman (played by Edmund O’Brien in the film).  There isn’t a Peabody character in the play so that went out.  That left me with either Foster or the Marshal.  Valance didn’t enter my mind as I don’t have the look of a stone cold killer.  Foster was even a long shot as most of the characters in the show were supposed to be in their mid twenties.  While I still look younger than I am in the face, my hairline and hair color more readily reveal the truth that I am about to turn 40 in a few months.

From the start, I felt there was something off about this read.  From a technical standpoint, I was pretty solid.  But the spark of my heart simply wasn’t there.  It just felt like I was going through the motions.  For the first time in years, I walked out of an audition without the glimmer of hope that I had a chance and that ended up being the case.  Given that most of the primary cast is in their mid twenties, I take some solace in the fact that even a top flight audition might not have netted me a role.

I actually had my last audition for the season earlier this week.  I received an invitation from Christina Belford-Rohling to audition for Elephant’s Graveyard, the next reader’s theatre production of the Playhouse’s Alternative Programming series.  The play is based on the true story of the lynching of a circus elephant.

I came to the audition and was pleased to see quite a few faces, many of them new to me.  I’ve noted that the reader’s theatre productions tend to bring out quite a few people since there is a lot more flexibility in the casting.

Aside from the brief synopsis, I knew nothing about the play so I was open to any character.  When I read the character, I felt a pull towards the Ringmaster, Clown, and Preacher.

Let me tell you something.  Monday’s audition was the best type of audition.  I read the monologue for the clown and the beats just fell into place.  I walked into the room and nailed the read.  The spark was there and I was truly enjoying myself.

When I finished, Christina said, “Truly excellent.  I want you to try something for me.”

Then she brought out a music stand and had me place the monologue on it.  She then asked me to actually mime juggling and do the last half of the monologue and really make her feel like I loved that elephant at the end.  I had actually envisioned the juggling when I originally read the monologue so this worked out well.

I started juggling and the physicality of it made my read a little more nonchalant.  And I switched up the juggling as I spoke, moving from two hands to one back to two, tossing it under my leg, and catching it behind my back.  I caught my imaginary balls and delivered the love line which could have been taken a smidge farther.

Christina said, “Really excellent.  I don’t think I need to see anymore if that’s all right with you.”  I had no problems with that and went home, content with a good read.

Let me tell you something.  Monday’s audition was the worst type of audition.  Despite an excellent read, I failed to make the cut.  But one thing I’ve learned over the years is that the reward is always in the read.  If you read well, you won.  The casting really doesn’t matter.  It’s just the icing on the cake.

Until the next season.

OCP Holding Auditions for ‘Elephant’s Graveyard’ and ‘Superior Donuts’

The Omaha Community Playhouse will be holding auditions for their next Alternative Programming production as well as the season finale for the Howard Drew Theatre.

Elephant’s Graveyard

Audition Dates: Monday, January 9 at 7:00 PM and Tuesday, January 10 at 7:00 PM

Performance Date: Monday, February 27, 2017
Performs in: Howard Drew Theatre
Director: Christina Rohling

Synopsis: Elephant’s Graveyard is an award-winning play that tells the true story of a tragic collision between a struggling circus and a tiny town in Tennessee, which resulted in the only known lynching of an elephant. Set in September of 1916, the play combines historical fact and legend, exploring the deep-seated American craving for spectacle, violence and revenge. Contains mature content.

Character Descriptions: Elephant’s Graveyard is an ensemble piece with a cast of 12 people from their 20’s to 60’s plus one 10-16 year old youth to play various townsfolk and circus members.  All ethnicities are encouraged to audition.

What to Bring:

• You will be asked to fill out an audition form, please have all necessary contact information and personal schedules handy in order to complete the form.

For additional questions, please contact Jeff Horger ext. 158.

Superior Donuts
Production Dates: May 5-June 4, 2017
Performs in: Howard Drew Theatre
Director: Susan Baer Collins

Synopsis: Superior Donuts, by Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning playwright Tracy Letts (Bug, August: Osage County), takes place in the historic Uptown neighborhood of Chicago, where Arthur Przybyszewski runs the donut shop that has been in his family for 60 years. Franco Wicks, a young black man and Arthur’s only employee, wants to update the shop with healthy choices and music, but Arthur remains set in his ways and reminisces about his Polish immigrant father. This provocative comedy, set in the heart of one of Chicago’s most diverse communities, explores the challenges of embracing the past and the redemptive power of friendship.  Contains strong language and adult themes.

Audition Dates: Monday, February 20 at 7:00 PM and Tuesday, February 21, 2017 at 7:00 PM

Audition Notes: The characters Max Tarasov and Kiril Ivakin will speak with Russian accents in the show, however, accents are optional at auditions.

Character Descriptions:
MAX TARASOV – Male, 49 yrs old, Russian

OFFICER RANDY OSTEEN – Female, 49 yrs old, Irish-American

OFFICER JAMES BAILEY – Male, 43 yrs old, African-American

LADY BOYLE – Female, 72 yrs old, Irish-American

ARTHUR PRZYBYSZEWSKI – Male, 59 yrs old, Polish-American

FRANCO WICKS – Male, 21 yrs old, African-American

LUTHER FLYNN – Male, 45 yrs old, Irish/Italian-American

KEVIN MAGEE – Male, 28 yrs old, Irish-American

KIRIL IVAKIN – Male, 35 yrs old, Russian

What to Bring:
• You will be asked to fill out an audition form, please have all necessary contact information and personal schedules handy in order to complete the form.

To expedite the check in process – please bring a recent photo if you have one available. Please note, photos will not be returned.

Omaha Playhouse Announces 16-17 Alternative Programming Season

OCP Announces Alternative Programming for 2016-17 Season

Omaha, Neb.—The Omaha Community Playhouse is announcing its Alternative Programming series for the 2016-17 season. Alternative Programming includes a series of staged readings, special events and play development collaborations. All events are held at OCP. The 2016-17 Alternative Programming schedule includes:

African Culture Connection 10 Year Anniversary Celebration

July 8 and 9, 2016

Special event, Hawks Mainstage
The Omaha Community Playhouse is helping to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the African Culture Connection. Free dance and drumming workshops will be presented for both adults and children. Tickets may also be purchased for two performances of a dance concert celebrating the milestone event. This is a family-friendly presentation that will be presented Friday evening and Saturday afternoon. The mission of the African Culture Connection is to provide African culture and art experiences to the public to encourage an appreciation for the richness diversity brings to all. Appropriate for all Audiences

ALL BETS ARE ON
August 22, 2016
Staged reading, Hawks Mainstage
Written by Tony Moton

All Bets Are On
is a table read of an original screenplay by Tony Moton, a former columnist at the Omaha World-Herald. The screenplay won second place in the 2003 Samuel Goldwyn Writing Awards. It tells the story of the relationship between a twelve-year-old Little League baseball player and his philandering grandfather, set during the summer of 1969 in Chicago. The reading will feature Omaha legend John Beasley and well-known television actor Patricia Belcher, as well as local performers. Contains mature content.

STUPID F@#KING BIRD
September 12, 2016
Staged reading, Drew Theatre
Written by Aaron Posner

A “sort of adaptation” of The Seagull by Anton Chekhov tells the story of an aspiring young director who rampages against the art created by his mother’s generation. A nubile young actress wrestles with an aging Hollywood star for the affections of a renowned novelist. And everyone discovers just how disappointing love, art, and growing up can be. This irreverent, contemporary and very funny remix will tickle, tantalize and incite you to consider how art, love and revolution fuel your own pursuit of happiness. Contains mature content.

STRANGER FROM PARADISE – From the Ground Up
October 17, 2016
Collaboration with the Great Plains Theatre Conference, Drew Theatre

Nebraska director Kevin Lawler previews his newly commissioned work for Opera Omaha, Stranger From Paradise, prior to its world premiere at the Great Plains Theatre Conference in Spring 2017. Part of Opera Omaha’s new community co-production series, this opera is an exploration of the love, life and work of the prophetic artist William Blake and his wife and collaborator Catherine Blake. Lawler will provide some insight into this unique creative collaboration and the process of developing his first libretto for an opera. Featuring poetry readings along with pre-recorded musical excerpts, composed by Nebraska native Nevada Jones. An audience Q&A will follow this 45-minute program. An official collaboration with the Great Plains Theatre Conference, From the Ground Up is a workshop that provides a safe and nurturing playground for artists to develop new work for the theatre. The playwright’s material will be shared with an audience while still in the developmental phase then will continue to be developed to be included in the next Great Plains Theatre Conference. Appropriate for all Audiences.

BLOODY, BLOODY ANDREW JACKSON
October 31, 2016
Staged reading, Drew Theatre
Book by Alex Timbers | Music and Lyrics by Michael Friedman

Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson
is a musical which takes an exhilarating and raucous look at one of our nation’s founding fathers. The life of the seventh president of the United States is reviewed and reinvented with a punk rock score and a contemporary sensibility. Contains mature content.

WORKING
November 14, 2016
Staged reading, Drew Theatre
Adapted by Nino Faso & Stephen Schwartz with additional contributions by Gordon Greenberg  |  Songs by Craig Carnelia, James Taylor, Mary Rodgers, Micki Grant, Stephen Schwartz, Susan Birkenhead and Lin-Manuel Miranda  |  From the book by Studs Turkel

Working is a musical that paints a vivid portrait of the men and women that the world so often takes for granted – the working class. Featuring music by several musical theatre and popular music composers, this musical is an exploration of 26 people from all walks of life. Appropriate for all Audiences.

ELEPHANT’S GRAVEYARD
February 27, 2017
Staged reading, Drew Theatre
Written by George Brant

Elephant’s Graveyard is an award-winning play that tells the true story of a tragic collision between a struggling circus and a tiny town in Tennessee, which resulted in the only known lynching of an elephant. Set in September of 1916, the play combines historical fact and legend, exploring the deep-seated American craving for spectacle, violence and revenge. Contains mature content.

CONSTELLATIONS
March 27, 2017
Staged reading, Drew Theatre
Written by Marie Amthor Schuett

This is an original play by award-winning Omaha playwright Marie Amthor Schuett. Two women are good friends and have been for a while. Is it possible that they might be more? How does one start that conversation? What part will their husbands play in it? Constellations is a drama about personal identity and following the heart. Contains mature content.

 

Alternative Programming events are free and open to the public with an opportunity for donations. No tickets or reservations are necessary. Some events may be intended for mature audiences. For more information on Alternative Programming, contact Jeff Horger at jhorger@omahaplayhouse.com or (402) 553-4890, ext. 158.