Kickshaw Theatre

ANNOUNCING LINEUP FOR SEASON 5

Jane GriffithComment

Big news! Kickshaw will stage three full productions for our 2019-20 season, our 5th since the company’s founding in 2015. In addition, we will present three one-night-only events with special performances and opportunities to support the non-profit theatre.

“In our fifth season, we’re ready to make you laugh while continuing to take artistic risks. This slate of shows will delight you as well as leave you with plenty to mull over at the bar afterwards. I couldn’t be more excited to bring smart, surprising theatre to the Ann Arbor area.” - Lynn Lammers, Artistic Director

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2019/20 Season

The Gala

Fundraising event

September 13, 2019

Saganworks, 303 Detroit Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Featuring interactive cocktail mixing stations and a silent auction of rare delights, this fundraiser celebrates the opening of Kickshaw's 5th season. Cocktail attire. 21+

Passion & Perseverance

One-night-only musical cabaret

November 8, 2019

Gladwin Barn, 4105 W. Liberty, Ann Arbor, MI 48103

This one-night-only event features musical theater favorites performed by local vocalists.

The Santaland Diaries

by David Sedaris

adapted by Joe Mantello

directed by Lynn Lammers

December 13-22, 2019

Bona Sera Underground, 200 W. Michigan Ave., Ypsilanti, MI 48197

Cash bar. 21 and over, please.

When a down-on-his luck wannabe actor arrives in New York City at the end of the year, the only employment he can find is at Macy’s department store -- working in Santaland for the holiday season, as a reluctant, but relentlessly cheerful, elf. Newly christened “Crumpet”, our clever anti-hero shares his observations of the mayhem in front of and behind the scenes during one chaotic December. Based on his beloved humorous and autobiographical essays, David Sedaris’ The Santaland Diaries is a wry and witty look at the combination of retail hell and theatrical spectacle that is the holiday season, a sharp, narrowly observed dark comedy.

Featuring Yianni Papadimos*.

Lungs

by Duncan Macmillan

directed by Paige Conway

February 27-March 15, 2020

trustArt Studios, 7885 Jackson Rd., Suite 1, Ann Arbor, MI 48103

The world is getting hotter, there’s unrest overseas—the seas themselves aren’t very calm—and one couple is thinking about having a child. This smart and funny drama follows a couple through the surprising lifecycle of their relationship as they grapple with questions of family and change, hope, betrayal, happenstance, and the terrible pain that you can only cause the people you love.

Featuring Claire Joliffe and Nick Yocum*.

A Night of Rare Delights

One-night-only theatrical performances

May 1, 2020

Gladwin Barn, 4105 W. Liberty, Ann Arbor, MI 48103

Mix and mingle with artists and Board Members for short performances and conversation about the art of Kickshaw.

The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence

by Madeleine George

directed by Sara Lipinski-Chambers

July 9-26, 2020

Eastern Michigan University Blackbox Theatre

Quirk Hall, Ypsilanti, MI 48197

Watson: trusty sidekick to Sherlock Holmes; loyal engineer who built Bell’s first telephone; unstoppable super-computer that became reigning Jeopardy! champ; amiable techno-dweeb who, in the present day, is just looking for love. These four constant companions become one in this brilliantly witty, time-jumping, loving tribute (and cautionary tale) dedicated to the people—and machines—upon which we all depend.

Featuring Kate Umstatter, Dave Davies, and Aral Gribble*.

Ticket Information:

Tickets will be available for purchase beginning September 9, 2019, online at www.kickshawtheatre.org, through A2tix.com, and at the door with cash or credit card.

A Night of Rare Delights

Jane GriffithComment

On Friday, May 17, we gathered with a crowd of wonderful supporters for "A Night of Rare Delights: Play the Producer. This event had two purposes: first and foremost, to share our ideas for next season and to hear feedback from our audience. It was also a fundraiser. The night included readings of short scenes from five plays under consideration for future production. The fabulous cast included Katie Banks, Will Bryson, Aral Gribble, Alysia Kolascz, and Brenda Lane. In between each short performance, audience members thoughtfully provided feedback and reactions to what they just saw. We finished off the night with a fun auction of Kickshaw memorabilia and a ukulele performance by Isabella Preissle. We’re so grateful for the generosity and support of everyone who came!

Check out the video and photos from the event:

Will Bryson and Alysia Kolascz

Will Bryson and Alysia Kolascz

Katie Banks, Alysia Kolascz (on stage)

Katie Banks, Alysia Kolascz (on stage)

Katie Banks, Alysia Kolascz and Brenda Lane

Katie Banks, Alysia Kolascz and Brenda Lane

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Swag!

We launched our newest Kickshaw swag — stainless steel insulated tumblers! You can have your own for just $20. Contact us for more info.

Get in touch! Email us at curious@kickshawtheatre.org or follow us on Facebook and Instagram @KickshawTheatre.

Interpretations of The Ding Dongs...

Jane GriffithComment

There was a lot of curiosity at the talkback with playwright, Brenda Withers on Saturday, April 6.

Since curiosity is Kickshaw's organizing value, it made for a great conversation!

Lynn Lammers, Dan Johnson, Casaundra Freeman, Daniel Helmer, and Brenda Withers (playwright) after the April 6th performance.

Lynn Lammers, Dan Johnson, Casaundra Freeman, Daniel Helmer, and Brenda Withers (playwright) after the April 6th performance.

One audience member was curious about the style it was written in... 

"I really like absurd work...I think it fits this situation. I think everything is political...like going to the supermarket, or the kind of car you drive, or holding the door open, or not. So, when people talk about political theater, it can be distasteful to some people because it's too direct...for me the most accessible political theater is stuff that's a little more abstract, so the people in the audience don't feel directly attacked but they do feel directly involved. So they feel implicated without being attacked. And then we can work through it a little better."   -Brenda Withers, playwright

As other questions were posed, Ms. Withers would often throw them back to the audience: "I'm curious about what you think..." she would say. While happy to fill in some of the back story of the how and why of writing The Ding Dongs, it became clear that Ms. Withers' own curiosity drives her and that her goal is to stimulate the audience's thoughts, guesses, and interpretations...allowing each of us to process the play within our own framework of experiences. 

In that vein, some of our Board members are sharing their thoughts...

"One of the things I love about The Ding Dongs is that it invites many interpretations. When I first read the script, the migrant caravan immediately came to mind. I thought that surely Brenda Withers was writing to illuminate that situation. It turns out, no, she wrote this play years ago, long before parents and children from Central America embarked on their journey toward the United States. The thing is, the play is written abstractly. It doesn’t name the traumatic turn of events that Joe and Natalie have experienced. Because it doesn’t have to be about one particular refugee crisis, I decided it can really ask bigger questions about how populations have migrated throughout history. Those shifting populations are often catalyzed by a need to escape violence and persecution. When and where have these migrations caused death and destruction versus acceptance and opportunity? 

Here’s the great thing about this play, though: you don’t need to see all of those layers to enjoy the show. On its face, it is a funny, suspenseful thriller that will keep you guessing. And I’ve found, over the last two weeks, that many of our patrons have had 
wildly different interpretations. That’s fascinating to me, and satisfying. It’s never my intention to dictate what meaning my work has to each individual patron. You bring your own worldview and life experiences to the play. Each patron is having an individual experience and a communal experience at the same time. And I’m so glad to be a part of it." 

-Lynn Lammers, Kickshaw Artistic Director 

Casaundra Freeman (Natalie), Dan Johnson (Redelmo), and Daniel Helmer (Joe). Photo credit: Sean Carter Photography

Casaundra Freeman (Natalie), Dan Johnson (Redelmo), and Daniel Helmer (Joe). Photo credit: Sean Carter Photography

 "Drawing inspiration from Edward Albee, Eugene Ionesco and other absurdists, Withers explores themes of private property, colonialism, migration, and violence through the seemingly innocuous—and often hilarious—story of Natalie (Casaundra Freeman) and Joe (Daniel Helmer), a couple stopping by for a visit to their childhood home. With semantic games, humor, and distraction, the couple manipulates their way into the home, currently occupied by Redelmo Smith (Dan Johnson).

Lynn stages the play so that the audience is complicit in the subterfuge. Seated along two sides of the stage, as audience members we are physically placed so that our perspective changes as the actors move through the space. We are sometimes physically and figuratively behind Redelmo, the confused homeowner who may or may not be losing his place in the world. Other times we are on the side of Natalie and Joe, whose recent displacement has led them to fight for the survival of their family. We witness the high-stakes negotiation between the characters, and are also complicit as we choose sides or choose to disengage.

“Doing nothing is a choice,” Withers asserted during the talkback. In times of political turmoil, choosing to do nothing can be as powerful as a making a choice to get involved. What are the consequences to the people directly affected, to others and even ourselves?  

While the play doesn’t provide answers, it provokes questions and critiques about the perpetuation of violence, the construct of land ownership, private property, contracts, borders, and how we decide who “belongs.” By putting the audience in the shoes of Natalie, Joe, and Redelmo, the play invites us to see the world from their perspectives, rather than placing blame on one party. We have the opportunity to zoom out and examine the systems and structures that enable cycles of violence and displacement throughout history and geography, and ask ourselves if this is the only way."

-Heidi Bennett, Kickshaw Connectivity Director

Casaundra Freeman (Natalie), Daniel Helmer (Joe), and Dan Johnson (Redelmo)

Casaundra Freeman (Natalie), Daniel Helmer (Joe), and Dan Johnson (Redelmo)

"When Redelmo (Dan Johnson) entered and sluggishly fell upon the couch, I was immediately wondering why.  It was the middle of the day and he looked tired.  As Redelmo pulled himself from the couch and confronted the two aggressive strangers on his porch my imagination began to churn.  Could this really happen? Driving by old residences, day dreaming of days gone by and even taking the step to approach the home, it could happen. But as the play progressed and Natalie (Cassandra Freeman) and Joe (Daniel Helmer), began to evolve in front of me. I sat mesmerized. With mental health awareness finally gaining national attention, I wondered if there was a tie-in. As the action continued there were many tell tale signs this all may be happening in an overwhelmed mind.  How traumatic was the loss of Redelmo’s brother?  How were he and the children coping? Were these two people really so desperate to squat in Redelmo’s house or were they squatting in the deep dark depths of his unconscious? And as the exchanges intensified and sent chills running through me, I envisioned the struggle within Redelmo.  

Brenda (the playwright) was truly mysterious in our back and forth discussion of the play. She did not lead me or tell me what was in the back room, or what was her intended meaning of the boxes, or how many house’s Natalie and Joe may have approached before they came to Redelmo.  With a whimsical smile and curiosity of a true artist, 
she allowed my imagination to take me where it will. This is the beauty of Kickshaw Theater: unleash the curiosity and the journey of imagination."

 -Shawn Preissle, Kickshaw Finance Director 

Dan Johnson as Redelmo Smith

Dan Johnson as Redelmo Smith

Want to share your interpretation of The Ding Dongs with us? Tell us your thoughts in this short this form.