It’s Alive!!!!!!

Shelterbelt Theatre is pleased to present Resurrection:  The Best of ShelterSkelter at 3225 California Street, October 6-29, 2017.  The show is directed by Kaitlyn McClincy, Jayma Smay, and Elizabeth Thompson.  Performances are Thurs-Sat at 9pm and Sunday at 6pm (except for Oct 29 at 2pm).  Tickets are $12 for Thursday shows and $20 Fri-Sun ($15 for students, seniors (65+), and TAG members).  Tickets are on sale at (click box office) or or 402-341-2757.

Our audience asked for it and Shelterbelt brought ShelterSkelter back to life–the eerie, the funny, the dark and spooky!  We opened the Skelter crypt and dug up some of our favorite blasts from the past, featuring some of your favorite playwrights.  Come in costume!  We’ll post pix on our Facebook page and each week’s winner (most likes) will advance to the finals.  Top finalist wins 2 Shelterbelt season tickets!  Whatever you do, don’t miss this limited edition Skelter in honor of our 25th Anniversary season.  We don’t know when it’ll appear again in this dimension!

ShelterSkelter, Shelterbelt’s celebration of all things Halloween, began in 1996 and continued for 18 seasons before going on hiatus.  Each year, scripts were sent from near and far, and a lengthy process began.  “In 2014, we took a break from Shelterskelter to focus more on our local playwrights and full-length plays,” said Executive Director, Roxanne Wach.  “As a part of our 25th anniversary season, we’ve resurrected ShelterSkelter.”

This incarnation of ShelterSkelter includes some of the best plays from past seasons, featuring work by Rob Baker, Joe Basque, Ben Beck, Molly Campbell, Julia Hinson, Jeremy Johnson, Daena Schweiger, Scott Working, and Aaron Zavitz.

The cast features Craig Bond, Katy Boone, Kevin Goshorn, Eric Grant-Leanna, Whitney Hansen, Meganne Horrocks Storm, Matt Karasek, Debbie Krambeck, and Sarah Smeltzer.  Stage Manager is Taylor Vann.  Assistant Stage Manager/Board Operator is Lisa Marie Hathaway.  Lighting design is by Joshua Mullady, with sound design by Shannon Smay, and costumes by Bridget Mueting.

Jeffrey Ballard, collage prints, and Jonathan Wilhoft, skeletal photography, are the featured artists in the gallery.

Shelterbelt Theatre is Omaha’s home for new plays.  This frightful evening opens Shelterbelt’s 25th Season, Original Lives Here, featuring scripts celebrating our local playwrights past and present.  Shelterbelt Theatre is a 2015 and 2016 recipient of the international 50/50 Applause Award by the International Centre for Women Playwrights, which honors theatres that produce a season with an equal or greater number of plays written by female playwrights. (

Shelterbelt Shatters the Glass with Season Finale


Shelterbelt Theatre is pleased to present Shattering the Glass: A Celebration of Omaha Women in Theatre, July 8-31 at 3225 California Street. Performances are Thursday/Friday/Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 6pm (except for the July 31st performance at 2pm.) ($15 general, $12 students/seniors/TAG). Tickets are already on sale at (click box office), or or 402.341.2757. On Saturday, July 9, the theatre will host a post-show talkback with the playwrights and organizer.

This new, collaborative project, lead by Elizabeth Thompson, Shelterbelt Theatre’s Artistic Director, has female playwrights, directors and protagonists + all the originality you expect from Shelterbelt with three brand new one-act plays. Clink by Moira Mangiameli, directed by Sonia Keffer, centers on a couple on the brink of engagement and independence. If walls could talk! In Ladies Room Confidential by Daena Schweiger and Kaitlyn McClincy, directed by Jayma Smay, we’re front and center for drama, trauma and… other events in the women’s room. L’Chaim by Laura Leininger-Campbell and Marie Amthor Schuett, directed by Moira Mangiameli, is the tale of a couple facing their future as they prepare to walk down the aisle. The women in these slice of life stories face their situations with strength, heart, humor and sometimes, a couple shots of whiskey.

“The Shelterbelt board was really excited about contributing to the “solution” of the gender parity discussion versus simply talking about it. We are in a unique position to make a program like this happen and took full advantage of engaging the extremely talented women this city has to offer,” said Thompson.

“According to recent statistics, only 17-22% of plays produced nationally are written by women. That leaves the female voice deeply underrepresented. It’s great to be at a theatre where we can look at that number and say, ‘Not here.’ This is the perfect project to end our season which featured all female playwrights,” said Shelterbelt Executive Director, Roxanne Wach.

The cast features: Shanae Adams, Eli Ami, Pamela Chase, Nichole Hawkins, Heather Holmes, Sarah LaCount, Kathy Longe, Bridget Mueting, and Jon Roberson. Stage Manager: Jayma Smay • Producer/Project Organizer, Properties: Elizabeth Thompson • Set Design, Timothy Mantil • Lighting Design, Joshua J. Mullady • Costume Design: Lora Kaup, Kendra Newby, Mati Phelps • Sound Design, Shannon Smay

“The process happened really organically once I called on the talents, minds and voices of our playwrights. We sat in a room and answered one question; what do we want this to be? Then, we went about answering that together by bounc-ing around ideas and issues we were passionate about covering. They went off to write and came back with some really amazing material,” Thompson continued.

In the gallery, Shelterbelt is also hosting its first collaborative art show featuring all women artists, with work by Randi Hunter, acrylic; Kris Kahn, fabric; Dori Settles, mixed media; Roxanne Wach, mixed media.

“Omaha is blessed with an abundance of women in the arts, and Shelterbelt is pleased to be really highlighting that,” said Wach.

Shelterbelt Theatre is Omaha’s home for new plays. This is the final play in Shelterbelt’s 23rd amazing season featuring scripts all celebrating women playwrights. Shelterbelt Theatre is a 2015 recipient of the international 50/50 Applause Award by the International Centre For Women Playwrights, which applauds theatres that produced a season with an equal or greater number of plays written by female playwrights. ( This production is made possible with support from Nebraska Arts Council | Nebraska Cultural Endowment.

Chasing the Dream

So now I had a goal and my first attempt at reaching that goal was to audition for the One Act Festival during my freshman year at Creighton University.

I auditioned for a show called The Actor’s Nightmare which was a comedy about an ordinary man who suddenly finds himself going through a series of clichéd performance pieces and he is completely out of place.  Secretly, I hoped that I was a natural and that I would blow away the director with my audition and nab the leading part.  I got up on stage, took a deep breath, and made an amazing discovery. . .

I was NOT a natural.

Don’t get me wrong.  My audition wasn’t terrible.  It just wasn’t that great either.  For a first audition, it was OK.  Later that week, I was walking around campus with a friend who had also auditioned for the festival when our theatre instructor, Michael McCandless, approached from the opposite direction and gave my friend the great news that he had just cast him as the lead in the other play at the festival, Riders to the Sea.  Naturally, in all the excitement, I thought that Michael was going to tell me that I, too, had been cast in the festival.  My excitement evaporated in the blink of an eye when I saw Michael look at me with a glint of pity in his eyes.

“Chris, I’m sorry, but you didn’t make it in this time,” he said.

So went my first audition and my first taste of rejection, which would become an all too common taste over the next few years.

Due to my heavy class schedule, I was not able to audition again until my sophomore year.  Carrying another heavy class schedule, I only managed one audition and it followed the same path as the first.  An OK audition, but I was clearly outclassed.  During the summer break, I vowed to go into future auditions with a much higher level of preparation to overcome my inexperience and to get out to more auditions.

Enter my junior year of college.  I was able to audition immediately for The Importance of Being Ernest.  I knew the play well and attempted to perfect each and every male role in the show which was a colossal error in judgment because no character got any special attention and all were underdeveloped as a result.

Adding to my error was the fact that I got a bit overlooked at the audition.  Everyone got to read multiple times before I ever got to read.  A few people actually got up there 5 times before I got to read once.  Even then, I was never actually called up to read.  The director finally asked if there was anyone who had not had an opportunity to read and I sheepishly raised my hand.  With my confidence dead in the water, I proceeded to get up and gave an absolutely wretched audition.  I vowed to return the next night and give a better showing.

And that didn’t happen.  When I returned the second night, I was not asked to read again.  I did ask if I could read a couple roles at the end of the night and was granted the opportunity, but it was a failure and I knew it.  To make my defeat total, when I left for the night, the director, Bill Hutson, said, “Thanks, Mike.”  Ouch.

For the first time, I would audition a second time during the school year.  An original play called The Empty Plough was going to be guest directed by its writer, Kevin Lawler, one of the founders of the famed Blue Barn Theatre in Omaha.  This time around, focusing on characters was easy as it was a small cast and there were only 2 male roles.  I was especially attracted to the character of Vern.

This play takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where 3 characters (Vern, Fern, and Fran) barely survive.  Vern is an angry, bitter man, though he has deep love for Fern and Fran which is hidden behind his bluster.  The three meet Lillian, an angel figure sent by the godlike Joseph, who tells them to build a plough which will bring them to a better place.  Near the end of the play, Fern gets sick and dies and is taken to Heaven by Lillian.  Vern finally drops his façade and pleads with Fern to come back and his monologue crescendos to him having a heart attack which ultimately kills him.  Such a powerful piece of writing.

I got to the audition and Kevin discussed the show and told us he would be bringing us in one at a time to read a monologue.  I was handed Vern’s monologue from the end and I got really excited because I had a lot of ideas as to what to do with this reading.  My confidence received a further boost when Kevin said, “I don’t care whether you think you’re an actor or not because I have enough faith in my abilities to bring the actor out of you.”  It just made me feel like I had a real chance.

Out into the hallway I went and read and waited.  I ended up being the final reader of the night.  I went into that theatre, shook Kevin’s hand, and he got to know me a little.  Then he asked me how many shows I had done.  Timidly, I replied that I had not done any.  Kevin quickly assured me that was all right and he just wanted me to take the monologue and have some fun with it.

This reading was the first flash of what I could really do as a performer.  Even today, the read still stands out as a great one as I portrayed Vern as a broken, haunted individual who would give anything not to lose a member of his “family”.  When I finished, Kevin was really excited and said, “Excellent!  I loved the vulnerability you showed with the character.  Now let’s see you do it angry.”

What happened next can only be described as if I had gone to a rifle range, carefully lined the target up in my sight, then turned the gun around and went, “BANG!!!”  The flash I had with the first reading vanished.  I knew Vern was angry, but didn’t think he needed to be angry here, so I wasn’t prepared to make the transition.  My second reading was very awkward and I sounded mocking and mean instead of angry.  When I finished, Kevin told me that the cast would be called by Sunday night.

I left and still felt pretty good because of the strength of the first read.  My head was so high in the clouds, I was starting all of my prayers with, “Lord, as long as I’m in the neighborhood. . .”  I was jumping on the phone every time it rang, especially Sunday.

Sunday ended and I did not receive a call.

And I was devastated.

And I wept. . .

To be continued