Theatre News: Hope’s 3+3 Favorite Shows from 2010

I have a love-hate relationship with “best of the year” lists.  I think Americans (and probably many other people) are obsessed to the point of disease over making comparisons.

The added problem with a “best of the year” theatre list is that, unlike with a list of books or movies, you usually can not go and experience the “best” shows for yourself.  Not those exact productions anyway.  So it’s not as if people can consult the list when they seek recommendations.

Also, a problem with one person making a “best theatre of the year” list is that it is physically impossible for one person to have seen every live theatre show produced in the Indianapolis area in 2010.  There were just too many of them.

On the other hand, one person’s list of favorites at the end of a year can be an enjoyable reminder for other people of shared past pleasures and/or a gentle creative prompt for doing their own remembering. 

It can be a way of noticing and appreciating, of thanking God for the color purple or whatever.

In any case, I just enjoy making and reading lists in general.

So…I have created a new list:  “Hope’s Top Three – Plus Three – Live, Indianapolis-Area Theatre Shows of 2010.” 

(I’ll work on the title, maybe, for 2011.) 

The top three shows on my list are shows that made me say “WOW!” when I saw them and which still jump out in my mind as core-shakers without my having to look over my directory of what I saw in 2010.  They are the three that continue to resonate with me most strongly, both artistically and personally, here at the end of the year.  If I had a time machine and could only see three shows in 2010, these are the three I would pick.

But thank goodness I was not limited to just three shows in 2010!  I am grateful to have seen many enjoyable shows this year.  In fact, I was fortunate enough to see a total of 119 (no, wait, I saw one more last night) 120 shows at more than 35 theatres in Indiana in 2010.   I missed a lot of shows, unfortunately, especially community theatre shows, but still…120 is 120.

(I also saw two excellent shows at two different professional theatres in Washington, D.C. but I am not considering them for my “best of Indy” list.)

So…I would also like to recognize three more shows that jumped out at me as especially satisfying artistically when I looked over my 2010 directory this morning. 

Drumroll please…

Continue reading Theatre News: Hope’s 3+3 Favorite Shows from 2010

Sad Theatre News: Dannon Crews

I was shocked and very sad to wake up this morning and read from various people on Facebook and Twitter that young Indianapolis actor Dannon Crews had passed away during the night.

I was not close to him personally, but I enjoyed his company whenever I happened to hang out with him at a party or whatever. 

More importantly, I loved his work as an actor.  He was hilarious in “Kitty, Kitty, Kitty!” and “A Night in Vegas” at Theatre on the Square, for example.  I most recently admired him in a more serious leading role in “The Twilight of the Golds” at The Theatre Within this past March.  Selfishly, I am very sorry for this loss to the Indianapolis theatre community and to myself as an audience member.

I would like to offer my deepest sympathy to Dannon’s family and friends.

Hope Baugh –

Theatre News: The Great Gay Play Contest

I love to receive theatre-related press releases from “markets” outside the Indianapolis area.  I rarely do anything with them besides read them, and I laugh at myself for letting them make me feel important, but still, they delight me.

I have been saving this one to share with you because even though it is about theatre in Chicago – not Indy – it involves Bryan Fonseca who is, as you probably already know, the head honcho at the Phoenix Theatre here in Indianapolis.

(He is also one of my benchmark directors.  When it comes to any question of artistic leadership or tactful collaboration, I ask myself:  What Would Bryan Do?)

Bryan is going to be one of the judges of the five finalists in The Great Gay Play Contest in Chicago, Illinois next spring.  Here is the full press release (and thank you, David Zak, for sending it to me!)  The bolding is mine:

Continue reading Theatre News: The Great Gay Play Contest

Storytelling News: Going Deep Retreat calling for stories

Continuing my end-of-the-year e-house cleaning, I could have sworn that I had an email with information about the feast that will be the 2012 Going Deep Long Traditional Story Retreat, including a call for stories.  However, I must have been too enthusiastic when I was in “delete mode” or something because now I can’t find it.  Here, instead, is the “Request for Proposals” that I found on the website.  I have also contacted some of the folks in charge of the event, asking for more information.  I will update this post if I learn anything more.

I wrote about this core-shaking, multi-day, tri-teller event a couple of the times when it was held in Bethlehem, Indiana.  (I attended the first one, too, in 2006, but that was pre-blog.  I blogged about the 2008 and 2009 events.)

I have heard rumors that it will move to Arizona next, but don’t quote me on that.  As soon as I know the 2012 details for sure, I am going to ask for the time off from my day job.  There is nothing like the intensity of healing and personal growth and enjoyment that comes from deeply listening to three epic stories told well in a temporary-yet-intimate community of story-lovers.

Here is information about the Retreat in general, within the Request for Proposals:

Continue reading Storytelling News: Going Deep Retreat calling for stories

Theatre News: “The Velvet Rut” published

Here is another piece of Indy theatre news that I’ve been keeping in my mailbox for a while – this one since September (eep!) – but a) I think it is still interesting and b) you may not have heard about it yet and c) there are only a few days left in 2010, so here goes.

I received this “Announcement of Publication” from playwright James Still.  You probably already know that he is the playwright-in-residence at the Indiana Repertory Theatre.  He mentioned this play, “The Velvet Rut,” when I first met him, back in 2008.  Someone pitched it at the annual meeting of the National New Play Network when it was here in Indianapolis a little later that year, and I heard about the world premiere of “The Velvet Rut” when I learned that James had received the Medallion award from the Children’s Theatre Foundation of America.

So I was delighted to learn this fall that “The Velvet Rut” has been published.  Now anyone (directors, producers, theatre bloggers) can buy a copy and read it for themselves. 

Here is the full announcement that James sent me:

Continue reading Theatre News: “The Velvet Rut” published

Theatre News: Health Foundation & Clowes

With just a few days left in 2010, I am going to follow the “better late than never” rule and quickly share with you a handful of press releases that I found particularly interesting.  Some of these have been sitting in my email box for a while but I think they are still interesting and you might not have seen their theatre-related news anywhere else.

This first one has been in my box since August (eep!) but the person who sent it to me, Lisa Sirkin Vielee, was correct in thinking that I “might be interested in learning about a non-traditional sponsor (The Health Foundation of Greater Indianapolis) trying to connect kids and performing arts…”  Thanks, Lisa, for sending this to me:

Continue reading Theatre News: Health Foundation & Clowes

Theatre News: Assistant Director Intern Program at the Phoenix

A few days ago I received a press release from Lori Raffel at the Phoenix Theatre. The news was of their new assistant director internship program.

Reading it brought back good, rich memories of my own assistant director experiences at the Phoenix in the late 1980s, before it was a professional theatre with Equity contracts and all that.  I first assisted Bryan Fonseca when he directed “The House of Blue Leaves,” by John Guare, and then “Bouncers,” by John Godber.  Then I assisted Rock Mers when he directed a show called “Nightbreath,” by Dennis Clontz. 

It was a pleasure and a privilge to work with both of these directors.  I learned a lot about myself as well as how to make theatre art.  I also had a wonderful time.

So…this new A.D. internship program sounds very cool.  Congratulations to each of the seven new interns!

Here is the full press release:

Continue reading Theatre News: Assistant Director Intern Program at the Phoenix

Theatre Review: “A Christmas Carol” at the IRT

On Saturday, November 27, 2010 I drove to downtown Indianapolis to see the professional Indiana Repertory Theatre’s production of “Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol,” adapted by Tom Haas and directed by Richard J. Roberts.

It was the opening night of this annual holiday treat AND “alumni night” so every seat was filled.  The seat I was given was at the far end of the very last row of the balcony, so the actors’ faces were blurry and I could only see 2/3 of the stage.  I couldn’t see the entrances of the first two ghosts at all and the very dramatic entrance of the third ghost was barely within my line of sight.  I was glad that I had not paid for this seat or chosen this night to introduce a friend to the IRT, and I confess that I spent the first few minutes of the show muttering “Bah, humbug!” and trying to breathe through my resentment instead of paying attention to the performance art itself.


Even from a bad* seat, this year’s “Carol” is enchanting.

Continue reading Theatre Review: “A Christmas Carol” at the IRT

Theatre Review: “The Santaland Diaries” with Scot Greenwell

You will never catch me out shopping on the day after Thanksgiving, but given a chance to see live theatre on Thanksgiving Day, I’m there!

I drove south from Indianapolis to Bloomington, Indiana to share Thanksgiving dinner with some of my family and friends on Thursday, November 25 (Thanksgiving 2010.)  After dinner, four of us drove to the Waldron Auditorium in Bloomington to see the professional Cardinal Stage Company’s production of “The Santaland Diaries,” written by David Sedaris and adapted for the stage by Joe Mantello.  It was directed by Cardinal’s artistic director, Randy White.

It is a one-man show that stars one of my favorite Indianapolis-based actors, Scot Greenwell, as “Crumpet.” 

According to the information that I received from Cardinal’s marketing assistant, Allison Parman, the show only ran three nights in Bloomington, but it will be here in Indy at the Indy Fringe Theatre for twelve performances, including Saturday matinees,  between Thursday, December 2 and Sunday, December 12, 2010.

Continue reading Theatre Review: “The Santaland Diaries” with Scot Greenwell