Mailbox: 4 Items

My email box is filled to bursting again, but I won’t have time to do another mailbox post until next week, so I want to just quickly mention three, no, four things going on this weekend that particularly appeal to me:

 1)   From an email that Justin Brady sent me from the Indy Fringe:

 MobyDick Tonight!

May 21-22, 7:30 p.m., $10

“Smart and challenging stuff” – Phoenix Fringe

With “Moby Dick Tonight!”, Minneapolis based storyteller Loren Niemi takes narrative to a far place where conventional narrative ends and improvisation meets poetic imagery. Quotes from Melville give rise to shaggy dog stories, off-handed humor, philosophical digressions, improvised travelogues and erotic memoir. With a suitcase full of props and a chair, Loren condenses the great American novel of obsession and doubt while expanding Melville’s imagery with stories that draw on his experience of reading the novel in particular times and resonate places.

Loren is one of the storytellers that brought “Sex, Drugs, and Audience Participation” to the main Indy Fringe festival last August.   I have known him a long time and I would never miss a chance to hear him tell.

2)   From an email that a new contact, Cathy Strauss, Director of Communications and Development for the Indianapolis School of Ballet, sent me:

The Indianapolis School of Ballet is presenting a one-act ballet “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” with three other shorter works on May 22 & 23 at 3:00 PM at the Scottish Rite Cathedral Theater. This performance features our pre-professional dancers and 6 guest artists, most notably Chris Lingner who has been touring and performing professionally for the past two years, one of them with the national Broadway tour of “Movin’ Out.”

I remember seeing this group at Penrod last summer.    Normally, it would not fit my parameters of only writing about shows by and for adults, but, hey, I am flattered to have been approached and I did enjoy their Penrod performance.

3)   Speaking of dance, the professional adult company, Dance Kaleidoscope world-premiered a new show last night called “Pictures at an Exhibition” that sounds intriguing.  I don’t have an email from DK about this show that I can quote you, nor a publicity photo to insert here, so I will just refer you to and tell you that I bet this dance piece is worth seeing.

4)   I do have a publicity photo that I can share with you about the show that just opened at the Phoenix Theatre:  “Speech and Debate” by Stephen Karam.  (See above.  Photo by…?)

I had hoped to see this last night, but when I contacted the theatre to make a reservation, director Lori Raffel told me that they had a “house buy-out” for that night.  One of the actors posted on his Facebook page that Saturday night is already sold out, too.  How cool is that!  I am definitely going to see it sometime.  I will share the bulk of the press release below.  If the show appeals to you, I would make a reservation right away.


Indianapolis – The Phoenix Theatre of Indianapolis announces the Indiana Premiere of Speech & Debate. Written by Stephen Karam, this play starts Thursday, May 20 and runs through June 27, 2010 in the Frank & Katrina Basile Theatre at the Phoenix.

Sex, secrets and performance-art video blogs with a George Michael beat — just another typical day when you’re a teenage outcast in Salem, Oregon. Solomon, Diwata and Howie are not the typical high school debate team. An aspiring teen journalist, an awkward wannabe actress and the openly gay new kid in town have never met, but when a shocking scandal involving one of their teachers brings them together through an unexpected chain of events, they realize three voices are stronger than one. Maybe starting their school’s first speech and debate squad will be their chance to be heard at last—by the school and even by the world.  

Variety aptly described Speech & Debate as “Bristling with vitality, wicked humor, terrific dialogue and a direct pipeline into the zeitgeist of contemporary youth.” Playwright Stephen Karam creates a hilarious and revealing portrait of the borderland between late adolescence and early adulthood in this clever and contemporary comedy about the life of the un-average American teenager. Full of unbridled dark humor, Speech & Debate tackles issues of politics, sexuality, and self-expression in the digital age. 

Phoenix Producing Director Bryan Fonseca said “Last year when we were selecting plays for this season, Glee had just aired on Fox and was becoming wildly popular.  With a great mix of music, social issues and high school angst, Speech & Debate seemed like a perfect fit for the Phoenix.”  

All three teenagers are played by Phoenix Theatre alums who are also Butler University students. Kelli Johnson, previously seen in June 8, 1968 and The Dos and Don’ts of Time Travel, plays the overly-dramatic Diwata.  Mark Presto plays aspiring journalist Solomon and was previously seen in the Phoenix production of My Dad is in Atlantis.  Rounding out the “teenage” cast is Matthew Van Oss, most recently seen on the Phoenix stage in End Days, who plays recent high school transfer student Howie.  Playing multiple adult parts is Nate Walden, seen in last year’s Octopus.    

In addition to GLAAD Media nominated Speech & Debate, which ran an acclaimed and twice-extended run at Roundabout Theatre Company, Stephen Karam is also the co-author of columbinus (2006 Helen Hayes nomination), which ran off-Broadway at New York Theatre Workshop following a co-production by Round House/Perseverance Theatres. He is currently working on a new play commission for Roundabout Theatre Company and a screenplay adaptation of Speech & Debate for Overture Films. Karam’s writing has also appeared in The Advocate and online at McSweeney’s. He is a graduate of Brown University. 

Speech & Debate is directed by Lori Raffel, who most recently directed Crimes of the Heart for Carmel Community Players and was Assistant Director for A Very Phoenix Xmas 4: Our Stockings Are Stuffed.   Bryan Fonseca is producing the show. The high school world of Speech & Debate is being created by set designer Robert Broadfoot, who most recently designed the Sunlight set on the Phoenix Mainstage. Nolan Brokamp is designing lights, Tricia Schiro-Long is costume designer and Rachel Sellers is stage manager for the production.  

Ticket Prices

Thanks to the generosity of Duke Energy, our CheapSeats performances have expanded to Thursdays and Sundays, so our prices for the 2009-2010 Season are $15.00 per person on Thursdays and Sundays. The Phoenix continues to offer Friday and Saturday shows for $20.00 per person (down from $25.00 last season) and a youth rate of $15 for those 24 and under. All seating is general admission on a first-come, first-served basis. Performances are Thursdays at 7:00 pm; Fridays at 8:00 p.m., Saturdays at 8:00 pm. and Sundays at 2:00 pm. Doors open ½ hour prior to curtain for seating. The Phoenix Pub, located inside the theatre, offers beer, wine, soft drinks, coffee, and bottled water, as well as treats, and all refreshments may be taken into either theatre and consumed during the performance. 

For more information about any Phoenix productions or to purchase tickets, call the Phoenix Theatre box office at 317.635.PLAY(7529). Tickets may also be purchased online. The theatre’s website is 


I won’t be able to see all four of these shows, nor all of the other shows that I would like to see that are running in the Indianapolis area this weekend.  It’s a good problem to have, isn’t it.

‘See you at the theatres!

Hope Baugh –

Follow @IndyTheatre on, too.

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