Minneapolis, MN - "So what do you do?" asked Studs Terkel to create his celebrated book Working, which tells the stories of real individuals and investigates the work they do, why they do it, and for whom they do it. These highly personal, powerful, engaging interviews leap from the page and come alive as characters in Working, adapted by award- winning Stephen Schwartz (Pippin, Godspell, Wicked) and Nina Faso. Working reveals the hopes, dreams, joys, and concerns of average working Americans by following them through one 24-hour workday. Critics hailed it as "spirited, life-affirming" (Chicago Sun-Times),"warm, inspiring and celebratory..."(Chicago Tribune). Its eclectic folk/rock score, performed by a cast of 25, features songs by James Taylor, Stephen Schwartz, Mary Rodgers, Susan Birkenhead, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Craig Carnelia, and Micki Grant. Directors Professor Lisa Channer (co-founder of Theatre Novi Most) and alumna Samantha Johns stage this University Theatre production with musical direction provided by Marya Hart. Working opens October 30 and plays through November 9 in the Stoll Thrust Theatre, in Rarig Center on the Twin Cities campus at the University of Minnesota. Note: Recommended for ages 13 and up. Performances will be presented Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2:00pm.
Director Samantha Johns said, "We are both very veracious makers," referring to her colleague and co-director Lisa Channer. "We like to hug the audience and kinda slap em' in the face at the same time...we tend to be darker and more rambunctious in tone." For this production of Working, "...we are cooking with contemporary life, and therefore are finding ways to excuse passé tropes while highlighting others that could use some sprinkles." Johns explained, "We are building a thing so that you can leave the theatre both hungry and fed." Lisa Channer added, "With this project we are colliding/combining several forms: musical theatre, documentary theatre, contemporary performance - and seeing what happens." Results will be shaped by "taking a good hard look at the state of America's soul right now. Along with the cast and crew, we are interrogating all notions of what 'work' is, has meant to us, or should be, and trying to be very honest. Our motto for this project has been 'no lying."
Both co-directors are accomplished theatre artists working in the Twin Cities community, and nationally. Channer is a founding director of Theatre Novi Most with whom she makes new works for the stage that combine and cross pollinate American and Eastern European aesthetics and a faculty member in the department of Theatre Arts & Dance. Besides Working, another current project is Rehearsing Failure about Bertolt Brecht and three of his women collaborators / lovers during their time in L.A. in 1947. For more information visit www.theatrenovimost.org Samantha Johns makes work based on her ability to understand what is needed in a given situation. "I come from theatre and marching band and love." With other humans, she builds work that is often in response to "theatre and marching band and love." Her tendencies lean toward rowdiness and saccharine meditations. samanthajohns.carbonmade.com
America's workplace has changed dramatically since Terkel first used his reel-to-reel recorder to capture what he described as "the extraordinary dreams of ordinary people," for Working published forty years ago. Stephen Schwartz, one of the creators of the original 1977 musical conducted new interviews for the recently revised version. "It is an entirely different world because of computers and cubicles and the Internet, so the show required new material," Schwartz says. "Some of the characters ... have become composites of several folks originally interviewed by Terkel and some roles have been updated... the operator has been outsourced to India. There are some new characters, including a hedge fund manager...The more things change, the more they stay the same," Schwartz says. "We have the same issues with the invisibility of our workforce, and it's coming to the fore, with the attention on inequality and lack of social mobility." (excerpted Boston Globe, Jan 2, 2014)
Post- play discussions featuring representatives of the ensemble and guest speakers from the university community will follow performances Saturday, November 1, Friday, November 7 and Saturday, November 8. All discussions are free and open to the public.
The Working ensemble includes the following performers who play multiple roles:
Milo Bunting, Anne Cameron, Brandon Cayetano, Elizabeth Cooper, Neva Dalager,
Emma Foster, Hayley Hansen, Gaosong Heu, Jamila Joiner, Eric Larson,
Berit Martinson, Molly McElroy, Jacob Mobley, William Olson, Cole Remmen,
Daniel Luka Rovinsky, Cody Borah Saurdiff, Daniel Sbriglio, Tate Sheppard,
Ashley-Rose Steinhauser, Emily Sullivan, Chrissy Taylor, Laura Torgeson,
Lindsey Wente, and Joseph Wurm.
The production's creative team creative team includes the following:
Austin Ruh (Assistant Director), Rye Gentleman (Dramaturg), Kathleen McCarron (Costume Coordinator), Kevin Springer (Sound Designer), Kathy Maxwell (Lighting Designer), Audrey Rice (Stage Manager), and Hailey Colwell (Assistant Stage Manager).
Musicians for the production are Nicholas White (Guitar), Karl Jones (Piano), Jack Pirner (Percussion), and Elise Beckel Santa (Rehearsal Pianist).
For tickets and information call: U of M Arts /Events Ticket Office at 612 624-2345 or visit theatre.umn.edu Customer parking is available the 21st Ave. Parking Ramp, located across from the Rarig Center, on the University of Minnesota West Bank Campus.
Who: University of Minnesota Theatre Arts & Dance
When: October 30 - November 9, 2014.
Thursday, Friday, Saturday evenings at 7:30pm; Sundays at 2:00pm.
Where: Rarig Center's Stoll Thrust Theatre, West Bank Arts Quarter.
330 21st Avenue South, Minneapolis
Tickets: $6 Students; $11 U of M faculty and staff; $16 General Public.
U of M Ticket Office (612) 624-2345 or online at theatre.umn.edu
Tickets are also available at the door two hours prior to performance.
University Theatre Arts & Dance is a laboratory for performance and practice of content taught in the Department's academic programs. In keeping with the University of Minnesota's three public purposes - research, and discovery; teaching and learning; outreach and public service - the mission of the Department of Theatre Arts & Dance is to educate students and audiences about the performing arts, and about the social issues and human emotions the arts speak to so powerfully. We are committed to realizing this mission by creating, producing, and studying works of theatre and dance, and performing them publicly for diverse audiences drawn both from the University and the community at large. Patrons should expect to see performances that challenge the mind and are produced with the highest possible quality.