Spoon River Anthology Q&A
Spoon River Anthology opens June 12. Check out some questions we asked the cast!
The Cast of SRA: Paddy Lynn, Jon Lynn and Patti Ecker
- What drew you to SPOON RIVER ANTHOLOGY? (SRA)
The first thing that drew us to SRA was the writing. Edgar Lee Masters had a gift for capturing something so profound from a small town setting. The characters speak from their graves, reaching us and teaching us about human existence. The poetry is written in free verse as short epitaphs that carry insightful messages. Secondly, Jon taught SRA in several high schools and directed the production three times. He took his students on field trips to Lewiston, (aka- Spoon River) and visited The Hill, Oak Hill Cemetery, where most of the characters are buried. The experience these students had was transformational and elevated the productions overall.
- Why will audiences be drawn to SRA?
We believe everyone in the audience will find something in the program that resonates with them. The characters are very diverse and come from all walks of life. The one thing they have in common is they all carry a piece of the broad spectrum of the human experience.
- How does SRA relate to modern audiences?
The same essential fabric that makes up human life today is captured uniquely in the characters of SRA. Even though the book is 100 years old and the setting is a small rural town, (Lewiston, IL), it speaks to the same dreams, desires, hopes, heroics, moral decay, and mistakes that fill all of lives in today’s world.
- How does a cast of three produce SRA?
SRA provides the wonderful challenge for an actor to differentiate a wide range of characters, old, young, pure, corrupt, serious, comedic, and wise. Jon plays 18 characters, Paddy plays 15 characters, and Patti Ecker compliments the epitaphs with music of the period. Having music not only gives the piece another layer of historic flavor, it enhances the mood and helps the listener to digest the epitaphs.
- What would we like audiences to walk away with after seeing SRA?
We not only want the audience to be entertained, but also to be moved or touched in some way, perhaps by striking a chord in their own lives. We also hope they come away with a new appreciation of the impact that Edgar Lee Masters’ contribution made to American Literature and to World Literature.
- What else would we like to say?
SRA was published in 1915, and it was based on the true lives of people who lived in Lewiston and Petersburg when Masters was growing up. The names of the characters were barely changed by Masters and were clearly recognizable to the townspeople. Even though it had become a standard of American Literature across the world, it was banned from Fulton County, Illinois schools and libraries until 1974, in hopes that the characters’ descendants had all passed away. This also was not a commonly accepted form of poetry. It was new, revolutionary, and opened the doors to modern poetry with its free verse style.
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Join us as we celebrate Shaw’s writing during a musical renaissance of Chicago: the Jazz Age. We’ll be pairing works of Shaw with the works of great Jazz artists and writers of the time like Jelly Roll Morton, Lovie Austin, Lil Hardin Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Zora Neale Hurston, Langson Huges, and more!
Call us at 321-587-7390 to RSVP! Tickets are $200 and a table of eight for $1,400.
ShawChicago Proudly Presents Jeeves Intervenes, following yet another of Bertie Wooster’s misadventures in avoiding marriage. Our all-star cast features all your favorite Shaw actors from around town! Check them out!
Gary Alexander (Eustace) is very pleased to be back working with ShawChicago where he appeared earlier this season as Gunner in Misalliance. Other recent SC shows include: Geneva, Major Barbara, The Importance of Being Earnest, Man and Superman, Saint Joan, James Barrie’s Quartets, Widowers’ Houses, Mrs. Warren’s Profession, and The Millionairess. Also this fall, Gary was seen as Dennis Montague in the current season of Chicago Fire. He appeared last season as Will in the hit comedy, The Book Club Play, at the 16th Street Theater and as Autolycus in Winter’s Tale for the Shakespeare Project of Chicago. For SPC, he also created and directed Spooky Shakes for the Chicago Cultural Mile Association’s Halloween Happening in Millennium Park. Other acting credits include: guest artist for Loyola University’s McElroy Shakespeare Celebration; King Lear, Fair Maid of the West, and Merchant of Venice for the Shakespeare Project; Drury Lane’s A Christmas Carol; the Goodman Theatre’s Binky Rudich; the Ravinia Festival’s Anyone Can Whistle, Sunday in the Park with George, A Little Night Music, and the revue, The Music of Rodgers and Hart. He has appeared in leading roles with Light Opera Works (Carnival, Candide); and in Lion in Winter for Rising Moon; Vikings and Mirandolina at Noble Fool; and Burying the Bones at Stage Left.
Lydia Berger Gray (Gertrude) is delighted to return to ShawChicago, where her credits include Pygmalion (Eliza Doolittle), The Importance of Being Earnest (Gwendolyn), The Millionairess (Epifania Fitzfassenden), Arms and the Man (Louka), Candida (Prossy), Votes for Women, Paradise Lost (Libby), The Philanderer (Julia), and let us not forget the sneezing Louise in Private Lives. Recent Chicago credits include Twelfth Night Short Shakes! and Shakespeare in the Parks (Maria), and The Amish Project, a one-woman show performed at First Folio Theatre, where Lydia is an artistic associate and has performed in numerous plays, including Jeeves Intervenes and Jeeves Takes a Bow (the Chicago premiers). Other Chicago theatres worked with include Oak Park Festival Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Drury Lane, and Silk Road Rising, and regionally with Montana Shakespeare in the Parks, as well as Artists’ Ensemble in Rockford, IL where Lydia performed in the world premiers Jeeves Intervenes, as well as Jeeves in Bloom and Jeeves Takes a Bow. Many thanks to Margaret Raether who speaks Wodehouse so fluently, to Bob and all of ShawChicago, and to her husband, fellow ShawChicagoan, Christian Gray.
Christian Gray (Bertie Wooster) happily returns to ShawChicago, where recent roles include Henry Higgins in Pygmalion, Don Juan in Don Juan in Hell, Jack Worthing in The Importance of Being Earnest, Bill Walker in Major Barbara, and Valentine in You Never Can Tell. He is an Artistic Associate of First Folio Theatre, where previous roles include Edgar Allan Poe in The Madness of Edgar Allan Poe, Bertie Wooster in the Jeeves series, and recently Dr. Jack Seward in Dr. Seward’s Dracula. He has performed with over 20 Chicago area companies including Court Theatre, Remy Bumppo, and Writers’ Theatre. Regional credits include Fort Worth Shakespeare (TX), Kentucky Repertory, and Pennsylvania Stage Company. He had four films premiere this year: Sometimes It Rains (136 Films), Day 1 (Skibo Films: 2 Awards including Best Film – Geek Out Film Festival; 1 Tabloid Witch Award; Best Feature Award – Action on Film Los Angeles), Drifted (Boomstick Films), and The Judas Run (Sigsaly Entertainment). Other film/internet/commercial credits: Plastic (FPPI Films: Best Supporting Actor – Indie Horror Film Festival Award, Chicago Horror Film Festival Nomination), Reclamation (NTG Productions), Normal (Rule 42 Productions); a web series Classholes (Red City Productions); a television pilot The Blackwood Prophecies (J & R, Two 9 Productions); Horseshoe Casino, Stein Garden and Gifts, Sprint/Nextel (spec). Love to his wife, Lydia Berger Gray!
Jack Hickey (Sir Rupert Watlington-Pipps) is delighted to return this season after playing John Tarleton in Misalliance earlier this year. Last season, Jack appeared as William the Waiter in You Never Can Tell and the Russian Commissar in Geneva. Previously, Jack played Andrew Undershaft in the critically acclaimed, Major Barbara, The Devil in Don Juan in Hell, Alfred Doolittle in Pygmalion, Lickcheese in Widower’s Houses, as well as roles in Mrs. Warren’s Profession, Man and Superman, St. Joan, Androcles and the Lion, Candida, The Philanderer, The Doctor’s Dilemma, The Apple Cart, and John Bull’s Other Island. Jack is the Artistic Director of the Oak Park Festival Theatre, and dividing his time between Shakespeare and Shaw is his idea of bliss. This summer he played Col. Pickering in Pygmalion, and Gremio in The Taming of the Shrew. Other acting roles at Oak Park include Sheriff Heck Tate To Kill A Mockingbird, King Claudius in Hamlet, Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night, Charlie in Seascape, Michael (Equity Jeff Nomination) in Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me, Henry Drummond in Inherit the Wind, Falstaff in The History of King Henry the Fourth, Fluellen in Henry V, Teddy in Faith Healer, Friar Lawrence in Romeo and Juliet, Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the title role in Cyrano de Bergerac. Jack is always happy to work with Robert Scogin.
Doug MacKechnie (Jeeves) returns to ShawChicago after appearing as Victor Prynne in Private Lives, Adolphus Cusins in Major Barbara, Jack Tanner in Man and Superman, the Earl of Warwick in Saint Joan and in multiple roles in Androcles and the Lion. Outside Ruth Page, Doug has worked with the Shakespeare Project of Chicago and other recent appearances include The Gravedigger (First Folio), Menorca (16th Street), Lucinda’s Bed (Chicago Dramatists), Slaphappy (Beat The Jester Productions), and Unnecessary Farce (BoarsHead Theater; Lansing, MI) – all world premieres. Other Chicagoland credits include A Christmas Story (Theater Wit); That Championship Season, Pitz & Joe (Red Hen Productions); Polish Joke, Don’t Drink the Water (Noble Fool); Uncle Fred In the Springtime, Taking Steps, She Stoops To Conquer (City Lit); Translations (Seanachaí); An American Daughter (Organic); Principia Scriptoriae (Circle); Artist Descending A Staircase, How the Other Half Loves, Noises Off (Broutil & Frothingham Productions); and countless readings at Chicago Dramatists, where he’s been an Associate Artist since 2008. Doug is an MFA graduate of The Theatre School, DePaul University. Proud member of Actors’ Equity.
Mary Michell (Aunt Agatha) appeared last season as Amanda in Private Lives and Mrs. Clandon in You Never Can Tell. Other roles for ShawChicago include Lady Britomart in Major Barbara, Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest, Dona Ana in Don Juan in Hell, Mrs. Whitfield in Man and Superman, Mary Todd Lincoln in Look Away, and Mrs. Higgins in Pygmalion. She has performed with ShawChicago since 1999, when she appeared as Mrs. Erlynne in Lady Windermere’s Fan. She is an Artistic Associate at Oak Park Festival Theatre, where she has appeared in Pygmalion, Seascape, Dancing at Lughnasa and Faith Healer. Other Chicago credits include work with The Shakespeare Project of Chicago, Bailiwick Repertory, Chicago Dramatists, Drury Lane, The Harper Theater, Illinois Theatre Center, The Ivanhoe Theatre and The Academy Playhouse. Regional work includes What the Butler Saw at the Arena Stage in Washington D.C; The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and Play It Again, Sam at Actors Theatre of Louisville; A Man for All Seasons and Bedtime Story at Mummers Theatre in Oklahoma City; Butterflies are Free at Cherry County Playhouse. Mary performed the narration to Mendelssohn’s Incidental Music to a Midsummer Night’s Dream with the Chicago Symphony. She is a member of Actors’ Equity Association.
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ShawChicago Proudly Presents:
CHICAGO—ShawChicago continues its 2016/17 season, Dysfunctional Family Fun, with Margaret Raether’s adaptation of P.G. Wodehouse’s British comedy, Jeeves Intervenes. The production runs November 26 through December 19 at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn Street, Chicago, IL 60610.
Poor little rich boy Bertram ‘Bertie’ Wooster is in a panic: his imperial aunt, Agatha Spencer-Gregson, is in town. The iron lady has arranged his marriage with the perfect woman, the Honourable Gertrude Winklesworth-Bode. Gertrude loves philosophy. Bertie is a party animal. Aunt Agatha loves having her way. Gertrude is so perfect and lovely and refined that Aunt Agatha intends to cancel Bertie’s trip to the French Riviera and drag him to the family reunion with his newfound ‘darling.’ That is, after Gertrude thoroughly housetrains him. Horrified at losing his bachelorhood, Bertie wants to make a run for it
It’s all up to Jeeves, Bertie’s genius manservant, to save the day.
WHO: ShawChicago Theater Company
WHAT: Margaret Raether’s adaptation of P.G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves Intervenes
WHERE: 1016 N. Dearborn St., Chicago, IL 60610
WHEN: November 26, 2PM
November 27, 2 PM
November 28, 2 PM
December 3, 2 PM
December 4, 2 PM
December 5, 7 PM
December 10, 2 PM
December 11, 2 PM
December 12, 7 PM
December 17, 2 PM
December 18, 2 PM
December 19, 7 PM
TICKETS: $35.00 General, $30.00 Senior Citizen, $20.00 Students. Group rates available. Tickets may be purchased at www.shawchicago.org or over the phone at 312-587-7390.
About Margaret Raether
Margaret Raether first encountered P. G. Wodehouse in the form of a battered secondhand paperback of The Code of the Woosters when she was in college. This, as Bogart once famously observed, was “the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” A founding member of Artists’ Ensemble Theatre (Rockford, IL), most of Ms. Raether’s plays have debuted either at Artists’ Ensemble or at New American Theater, where she spent two seasons as Playwright in Residence. Her plays are pounded out late at night while peering around a cat that likes to sit in front of her monitor.
Ms. Raether’s trilogy of P. G. Wodehouse adaptations have been described as “bright and engaging as a garden party in May” (Chicago Tribune), “as dry as a well-made martini and equally potent” (Herald Tribune), and her writing “wonderfully captures the late British humorist’s renowned wit” (Seattle Times).
ShawChicago is a professional non-profit theater company founded in 1994 with a mission to present the plays of George Bernard Shaw and his contemporaries as concert readings. Operating under an Actors’ Equity contract, ShawChicago celebrates its 23rd season, Dysfunctional Family Fun. The company presents special afternoon performances for senior citizens and morning performances for students throughout the Chicagoland area. ShawChicago also offers outreach performances across the city and its suburbs, providing theater to libraries, senior living communities and schools. ShawChicago is a theater company in residence at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts.
We at ShawChicago are SUPER PUMPED to bring you an all star cast for Bernard Shaw’s fine feminist farce, Misalliance! Directed by Barbara Zahora, travel with us and this Chicago all-star cast to 1909 when a woman broke through the glass ceiling! We are so excited to welcome Chicago theatre star Gary Alexander to our stage!
GARY ALEXANDER (Julius Baker) is very pleased to be back with ShawChicago where he has appeared in 13 previous productions, including, most recently: Geneva, Major Barbara, The Importance of Being Earnest, Man and Superman, Saint Joan, James Barrie’s Quartets, Widowers’ Houses, Mrs. Warren’s Profession, and The Millionairess. Last season, Gary appeared as Will in the hit comedy, The Book Club Play, at the 16th Street Theater and as Autolycus in Winter’s Tale for the Shakespeare Project of Chicago. For SPC, he also created and directed Spooky Shakes, an original adaptation, for the Chicago Cultural Mile Association’s 2015 Halloween Happening in Millennium Park. Other acting credits include: guest artist for Loyola University’s McElroy Shakespeare Celebration; King Lear, Fair Maid of the West, and Merchant of Venice for the Shakespeare Project; Drury Lane’s A Christmas Carol; the Goodman Theatre’s Binky Rudich; the Ravinia Festival’s Anyone Can Whistle, Sunday in the Park with George, A Little Night Music, and the revue, The Music of Rodgers and Hart. He has appeared in leading roles with Light Opera Works (Carnival, Candide, and Student Prince); and in Lion in Winter for Rising Moon; Vikings and Mirandolina at Noble Fool; and Burying the Bones at Stage Left.
1. What is your role in Misalliance?
Mr. Gunner, aka John Brown, aka Julius Baker
2. What is your favorite thing about your character?
I love how he’s such a mix of moral certitude and complete and utter insecurity. Playing contrasts like that is always a blast.
3. What’s your favorite thing about acting?
It’s a challenge and a joy to be able to enter into the life of a character–to know everything about them. And to draw on my own experiences to make everything they experience as grounded in truth as possible. The process (which begins when you first read the script and doesn’t end until the last word of the last performance) is always challenging and can be incredibly exhilarating–especially when I discover something completely unexpected about a character I’m playing. And ACTORS! They are some of the funniest most delightful people around.
4. What are you most looking forward to in this production?
Playing with these fine, fine actors and working with multi-talented Barbara Zahora as director. Oh, and that amazing Shaw language. And the great, smart ShawChicago audiences! Pretty much the whole shebang.
5. If you could describe Misalliance in three words, what would they be?
Highbrow screwball comedy.
6. What’s your favorite food/s?
True to my Italian roots, I love good authentic Italian food. (I cook a lot!)
7. When you’re not acting, what are you doing?
Probably teaching a yoga class. Or singing (I have a regular singing job at an Episcopal church). Or cooking. Or watching political news. Or at the opera–I go to the opera a lot.
8. Who’s your biggest inspiration?
From an acting perspective, probably the great Uta Hagen. I had the privilege of doing a week-long master class with her almost 20 years ago. It was an amazing experience–she had (and instilled in us) such a respect for the craft of acting. Like any great teacher, she was demanding and incredibly generous at the same time.
9. What is your favourite play and why?
Often it’s the play I’m in. But I would have to list the following: Mrs. Warren’s Profession, St. Joan, Angels in America, The Seagull, August Osage County, King Lear, Twelfth Night.
10. Anything you want to say to the audience?
It’s such a privilege to have you along for the crazy ride that is Misalliance! Thank you for supporting ShawChicago and the work we do.