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PicksInSix Q & A: Samuel D. Hunter "Lewiston/Clarkston"

Samuel D. Hunter
LEWISTON | CLARKSTON
PicksInSix® Q & A | Ed Tracy

 

There is an unseen, but ever-present, character’s voice that welcomes you into the first half of Samuel D. Hunter’s “Lewiston / Clarkston,” two interrelated one-act plays performed consecutively—with a dinner break at the Mason Jar Café at intermission—now being staged in an immersive, Midwest premiere at the GhostLight Theatre running through July 24 in Benton Harbor. That narrative sets the tone of exploration and discovery in director Spencer Ryan Diedrick’s production even as it poses questions about family legacy, our dreams and, ultimately, the search for real meaning in our lives.

It is that spirit of discovery that drives Marnie (Aiden Ankli)—one of the central characters in “Lewiston” who are direct relatives to explorer Meriweather Lewis—to return to the roadside home/fireworks stand of her grandmother Alice (Carol Sizer) to stake a claim for what remains of the family property. The fractured relationship between generations, often punctuated on both sides by Alice’s companion Connor (John Taylor), is crafted expertly by Hunter’s quiet, yet forceful storytelling.

In “Clarkston,” the developing relationship of two employees plays out in and around a COSTCO warehouse across the river. Jake (Christian Roose), a middle-class, educated new hire and distant relative of William Clark is suffering from a terminal disease. His workmate Chris (Lucas Seven) aspires to be a writer, but is trapped in Clarkston, unable to resolve conflicts with his mother Trish (Beth Ward) or come to terms with his own. As both yearn for discovery and fulfillment, the common ground established allows for a deeper understanding of their individual challenges and the debilitating impact of Huntington’s disease.

The GhostLight production begins with “Lewiston” staged outside in the courtyard performance space. At the intermission, patrons take the short walk along the Lewis and Cark Trail for a specially-priced dinner at The Mason Jar Café, one of the Benton Harbor Arts District’s most popular locations. Following dinner, “Clarkston” is staged in GhostLight’s black box theatre.

Samuel Hunter is a prolific playwright whose work includes the 2011 Obie Award-winning “A Bright New Boise,” the 2013 Drama Desk and Lucille Lortel Awards for “The Whale,” and is a recipient of the prestigious 2014 MacArthur Fellowship.

In a recent email exchange, Hunter provided insight into the development of “Lewiston / Clarkston” and how the two pieces, written in 2015 and 2016 respectively, and performed first consecutively in 2019, share common values and themes.

Ed Tracy: Taken individually, “Lewiston” and “Clarkston,” each tell unique but interrelated stories that share vivid touchpoints of the human experience, our relationship to those around us and the understanding and impact of family history on our lives.

For the full article visit PICKSINSIX

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The GhostLight Theatre 2022 Summer Season Continues
with an Immersive Theatre|Dining Experience

Midwest Premiere of Samuel D. Hunter’s
Lewiston/Clarkston and Dinner at the Mason Jar Café

July 14 – 24

Lewiston/Clarkston

A Diptych–Two One-Act plays performed consecutively

By Samuel D. Hunter 
Directed by Spencer Diedrick

 

​BENTON HARBOR (June 29, 2022) – The GhostLight Theatre (“GhostLight”), Southwest Michigan’s premier performing arts organization in the burgeoning Benton Harbor Arts District, continues their 2022 Summer Season with the Midwest Premiere of Samuel D. Hunter’s Lewiston/Clarkston, presented in two acts directed by Spencer Diedrick with a dinner break at intermission served by The Mason Jar Cafe. The show opens on Thursday, July 14 and runs through Sunday July 24 with evening performances only at a special time—Thursday through Sunday at 6:00 p.m.

 

The two interrelated pieces by Hunter, a 2014 MacArthur Fellowship recipient, debuted in 2018 and explore the relationship between modern-day descendants of explorers Lewis and Clark in the two communities that bear their names.

As director Diedrick notes: “In the first piece, Lewiston, a roadside fireworks vendor, Alice (GhostLight veteran Carol Sizer) is weighing whether to sell the last of her inherited Idaho land to a real estate developer for the sake of her and family friend/coworker Conner (John Taylor). She is confronted by her long-estranged granddaughter, Marnie, played by Aiden Ankli who returns to Southwest Michigan from New York in her GhostLight debut, who has left a lucrative Seattle job to stake a claim for her family's legacy.  The second, Clarkston, takes place across the river in Washington, where two young men work the night shifts at the local Costco.  Jake, played by Christian Roose, is fleeing the East Coast and the hard reality of a medical diagnosis, while Chris (Lucas Seven) maintains a tenuous connection to his mother, Trisha (Beth Ward), who struggles with addiction.” 

 

"We are delighted to present Samuel Hunter’s unique work with Chicago-based director Spencer Diedrick in our Benton Harbor theater,” notes GhostLight Artistic Director Paul Mow. “The added benefit of a dining option with our neighbors and partners at The Mason Jar Café will allow our audiences to enjoy an intermission experience available only to our patrons between the two shows. We can't wait to offer this immersive experience!"

 

Adds Diedrick: “In both stories, our characters grapple with whether to belong or escape, how to accept the circumstances beyond their control—often economic—and just how difficult it is to change them.  After all, trying to do the right thing is the right thing.  The vast American landscape is filled with towns like these, and the offbeat, empathetic, relatable tales they have to tell are universal.”

 

Mature themes, adult situations and a character’s challenges with the life-threatening disease are central to the GhostLight production which will include a related discussion with representatives from the Huntington Disease Society of America (HDSA) who will participate in a special post-show talkback Q&A session on Thursday, July 21st. The Ghostlight Theatre production of Lewiston/Clarkston is sponsored by the Timothy’s Restaurant and Roni & Tom Buckley.

 

The popular “First Friday” AfterGlow at Bread+Bar with the cast and crew will be hosted by Tim Foley and his team at the restaurant following the July 15th performance. Bit of Swiss desserts, small bites and a cash bar will be available.

 

July 14 – 24

MIDWEST PREMIERE!
Lewiston/Clarkston

Show|Dinner Tickets: GhostLight – Lewiston/Clarkston|Eventbrite - $12-$28

Dinner Ticket | EventBrite (Advance Reservation Requested): $28 p.p. (inc. processing fee)

PERFORMANCE DATES
THU—SUN: July 14-17
THU—SUN: July 21-24

NOTE: SPECIAL TIME
5:30 p.m. Outdoor Theatre Cash Bar at GhostLight and at Mason Jar Café 
6:00 p.m. Curtain
In case of inclement weather, performances will be held in The GhostLight Theatre.

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Theater Review: Significant Other

WMUK | By Gordon Bolar

Published June 14, 2022 at 9:53 PM EDT

The GhostLight Theater in Benton Harbor recently opened their production of Significant Other which runs through June 19. WMUK’s Gordon Bolar has this review.

Playwright Joshua Harmon’s smart and sassy comedy offers many insights about a young gay man and his relationship with three brides to be. Last Thursday, Director Les Rorick’s well-paced, very funny production brought Harmon’s vibrant script to life on the GhostLight stage before an appreciative opening night audience.

The play’s central character, Jordan Berman, finds himself at a crossroads in his late twenties. Not only does true meaningful romance with other gay men elude him, he sees his three female BFF’s slipping away, one by one, into a marriage that will alter Jordan’s relationship with each.

Even worse, Jordan is expected to participate in and endure the obligatory three phased ritual accompanying the matrimonial bonds for each of these women: the bridal shower, the bachelorette party and the wedding itself.

This production succeeds for several reasons. First is actor Matthew Bizoe’s strong and nuanced performance as Jordan. Bizoe possess all of the vocal and physical tools necessary to generate and hold emotional interest in Harmon’s lead character for the show’s two-hour plus duration.

Bizoe is able to sustain extended, animated, rapid-fire phone narratives as Jordan’s mind shifts rapidly among thoughts and relationships. Here audience attention and focus are greatly assisted by director Rorick’s seamless transitions and Paul Stortz’s fluid lighting.

Bizoe’s portrayal of Jordan goes much deeper than the neurotic and obsessive comic figure who fights with his hand, “Evil Dead” style, in a failed attempt to prevent the appendage from hitting the “send” button, delivering a message to a heretofore secret male love interest.

In a gut-wrenching confrontation with the soon-to-be wed Laura, played by Madison Mosher, Bizoe’s character shifts gears as he confronts the loss of his most meaningful friendship and the possibility of a life alone.

One of this production’s most appealing features is the charming and frequently hilarious rendering of Jordan’s three distinctly different foible ridden female friends.

Terra Lenox, as Kiki, displays a self-obsessed, and frequently tipsy young woman who is alwaysthe life of the party and at the center of attention. Lenox’s vivacious character, relegates her gal pals, her gay guy pal, and her future husband, to supporting roles in a rambling wreck of a life that stars none other than Kiki.

In quiet contrast, the character of Vanessa, played by Laura Martin, smiles to herself as she tolerates the chaos around her, waiting to catch her future husband at Kiki’s wedding, as oblivious friends look the other way.

Madison Mosher’s Laura presents a convincing life line for Jordan, gently reigning in decisions that threaten to derail his life. Mosher’s steady performance underscores the stakes for Jordanand sets up the transformation that she challenges him to make, as she joins the ranks of his married friends.

Also effective is Carol Sizer, as the grandmother who reminds Jordan that life is a long book with many chapters.

In the play’s final scene, Bizoe’s character, alone onstage, silently watches Laura and groom as the Happy Couple is called to the floor for a wedding dance. Laura’s challenge and grandmother’s reminder are clearly realized in this carefully-crafted closing moment of offstage focus. Jordan’s face and body reflect the welcome change that has transpired: he is finally able to take joy from the happiness of others.

Link to article

Matthew Bizoe in The GhostLight Theatre production of Significant Other June 9-19 PHOTO_La
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The GhostLight Theatre 2022 Summer Season Continues June 9-19 

Significant Other 

An American play written by Joshua Harmon. 

Directed by Les Rorick 

June 9 - 19 

7:30 p.m. Thurs/Fri/Sat, 3:00 p.m. Sundays 

Special Additional Performance Saturday, June 25 8:00 p.m. Significant Other The Acorn Theatre Three Oaks, Michigan 

BENTON HARBOR (May 28, 2022) – The GhostLight Theatre (“GhostLight”), Southwest Michigan’s premier performing arts organization in the burgeoning Benton Harbor Arts District, continues their 2022 Summer Season with a production of Joshua Harmon’s Significant Other directed by Les Rorick. The show opens on Thursday, June 9 and runs through Sunday June 19 with evening performances on Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and matinees on Sunday at 3:00 p.m.

Harmon’s hilarious coming-of-middle-age story is about a late 20s gay man who is struggling to cope with losing the bond with his three best female friends as they find love on their own. It’s a wry comedy set in New York City that Chicago Tribune critic Chris Jones called “a quite sophisticated exploration of the complex and changing dynamic between gay men and the women who love them.” Matthew Bizoe plays Jordan and the cast features Madison Mosher (Laura), Laura Martin (Vanessa), and Terra Lenox (Kiki). 

 “We are delighted to share this story of love and friendship with our GhostLight community,” said director Les Rorick. “This play—that we’ve been working on for two years as it was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic—is a profoundly relatable, beautifully written comedy-with-heart. We believe that audiences will be moved to laughter and tears as they see the main character struggle with his fear of being alone.” 
 

The popular “First Friday” AfterGlow at Bread+Bar with the cast and crew will be hosted by Tim Foley and his team at the restaurant following the June 10 performance. Bit of Swiss desserts, small bites and a cash bar will be available. 

Tickets: GhostLight – Significant Other | Eventbrite $12-$28 Mature Themes/Parental Discretion Advised 

There will be an additional performance of Significant Other for one night only on June 25 at 8:00 p.m. The Acorn Theater in Three Oaks, Michigan. For information and reservations, visit: Significant Other -Acorn June 25 

SIGNIFICANT OTHER CAST Matthew Bizoe (Jordan), Madison Mosher (Laura); Kelly Collins (Laura-Saturday June 11); Laura Martin (Vanessa); Terra Lenox (Kiki); Joey DiMaggio (Evan-Friday/Saturday); Alex Giogorio(Evan-Thursday/Sunday); Lucas Seven(Zach/Roger); Michael Bond (Will/Conrad/Tony); Carol Sizer (Helene).

 

PRODUCTION TEAM Director: Les Rorick; Stage Manager: Brooke Hare; Assistant Stage Manager: Avery Banister; Costumer: Lia McCoskey; Dramaturg: Lucas Seven; Intimacy Choreographer: Kristina McCloskey; Lighting Designer: Paul Stortz; Photography: Lauren Mow; Production Assistants: Cecilia Petrush and Seamus Doyle; Props Assistant: Tavion Crump; Set Construction: Danny Gilligan. Pre-
 

Production Photos: GhostLight – Significant Other PHOTO CREDIT|Lauren Mow 

 

Current GhostLight Theatre Health, Safety and COVID-19 Policy. 

 

Significant Other Show Program 

GhostLight Summer Camps For All Ages! CircEsteem Camp Monday-Friday, June 20-24 Scholarships Available to Regional Students 

The GhostLight Theatre is again hosting its popular series of educational camps throughout the summer including: CircEsteem Kids (June 20-24) a day camp designed to build self-esteem & mutual respect through the practice and performance of circus arts; Discovering Your Voice By Learning to Write Like Shakespeare (July 25-29) with Ken Smith, Ph.D.; and, BEST Camp-Building Excellence through Summer Theater (June 27-July 1) a collaboration with The Citadel Dance & Music Center. 

Registrations are near capacity for CircEsteem. Scholarships are still available for interested students. Email us at: info@GhostLightBH.com or call (269) 252-5222. 

 

2022 GhostLight Summer Season

June 9 – 19 Significant Other An American play written by Joshua Harmon. 

Directed by Les Rorick 

Performances: 7:30pm Thurs/Fri/Sat, 3pm Sundays 

Tickets: $12-$28 

NOTE: Saturday, June 25th, 8pm - Special additional performance of ‘Significant Other’ at The Acorn Theatre, Three Oaks, MI INFO 

 

July 14 – 24 

MIDWEST PREMIERE! 

Lewiston/Clarkston 

A Diptych - Two One-Act plays performed consecutively 

A play by Samuel D. Hunter. Directed by Spencer Diedrick. 

Tickets $12-28 (Show Only|Dinner Separate) NOTE: Special Time - 6pm Thurs/Fri/Sat/Sun Evening includes a separately priced dinner option at The Mason Jar between shows. 

 

August 18 - 28 

Violet 

Music by Jeanine Tesori, Lyrics and Book by Brian Crawley. 

Based on “The Ugliest Pilgrim” by Doris Betts 

Directed by Paul Mow. Music directed by Joshua Goines 

Performances: 7:30pm Thurs/Fri/Sat, 3pm Sundays 

Tickets: $12-$28 

NOTE: Wed August 24-Special Performance -The Dunes Arts Foundation in Michigan City, IN INFO 

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The GhostLight Theatre’s 2022 Summer Season Open May 19th New Sign to be Unveiled

Season Opening Production

LITTLE WOMEN
May 19 through 29


Book by Allan Knee
Lyrics by Mindi Dickstein

Music by Jason Howland
Based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott


Directed by David Derrell
Music Directed by Marty Hesse

 

BENTON HARBOR (May 11, 2022) – The GhostLight Theatre (“GhostLight”), Southwest Michigan’s premier performing arts organization in the burgeoning Benton Harbor Arts District, opens their 2022 Summer Season with the musical “Little Women” based on the semi-autobiographical novel by Louisa May Alcott. The show debuts on Thursday, May 19 and runs through Sunday May 29 with evening performances Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 pm and matinee on Sunday at 3:00 pm.

Originally written to chronicle the lives of four sisters in the aftermath of the Civil War, GhostLight’s director David Ferrell sets the production during the Vietnam era in the wake of the Women’s Right’s Movement in America. It’s the story of Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy March, and their beloved mother Marmee, at home in Concord, Massachusetts, while their father is away serving in the military. “Little Women” a fabled tale for the whole family, features a touching score and vignettes in which the women’s lives unfold within the short stories Jo writes in her attic studio, that will resonate with anyone who has ever longed for something greater, to be something more than themselves and to know what it is like to feel bound by the norms of society, but still overcome.
 

“What is so incredible about the story of Little Women is that it is timeless, said director David Ferrell. “It can be set in any time and in any place. These women are real people and are based on real stories. I just happened to choose the 70s to base our production because it was an era that women started to predominantly move forward in society, breaking free from traditional norms, and, seeking happiness in the foundations of what they were creating. The women of which our story takes place; these characters are changing the world in their own ways and should be reflections of all women who have come before them. When envisioning how I wanted to portray these characters, these women, their triumphs, and struggles; I was reminded of a poem by Rupi Kaur which begins “let it go, let it leave, let it happen” and those moments rang true in what our heroine “Jo” March aspires to do for herself, her career, and for her family. She sets out to follow her dreams, realizes simple truths about love and loss, and overcomes. In doing so, she creates more beauty in the world!”

"We are very excited to kick off our summer season with the wonderful, family-friendly musical classic Little Women, directed by David Ferrell," said Paul Mow, Artistic Director. "David has brought together a hard-working group of talented perforrmers from across our region along with our terrific GhostLight interns to bring this story to life through these beautiful songs. We hope you'll bring the entire family, as this is a show not to be missed!!"
 

The popular “First Friday” AfterGlow parties will again be held this summer at the Bread+Bar thanks to Tim Foley and his team at the restaurant. Bit of Swiss desserts and small bites will be available to celebrate along with the cast and crew of the show.

Tickets: GhostLight - Little Women | Eventbrite  $12-$28


Summer Camps

GhostLight is also hosting educational camps throughout the summer including: CircEsteem Kids (June 20-24) a day camp designed to build self-esteem & mutual respect through the practice & performance of circus arts; Discovering Your Voice By Learning to Write Like Shakespeare (July 25-29) with Ken Smith, PhD; and, BEST Camp-Building Excellence through Summer Theater (June 27-July 1), a collaboration with The Citadel Dance & Music Center.

For more information, visit: www.ghostlightbh.com or call Ed Tracy at (312) 965-4834.

The GhostLight Theatre, an innovative playhouse with a mission to enlighten, inspire,
and illuminate Benton Harbor and the surrounding region,
is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization

101 Hinkley Street, Benton Harbor, MI 49022

GhostLightBH.com      269-252-5222

 

2022 GhostLight Summer Season

May 19 – 29, 2022
Little Women

Book by Allan Knee, Music by Jason Howland, Lyrics by Mindi Dickstein.
Based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott.
Director: David Ferrell
Music Director: Marty Hesse
Performances: 7:30pm Thurs/Fri/Sat, 3pm Sundays
Tickets: $12-$28

 

June 9 – 19

Significant Other

An American play written by Joshua Harmon.

Directed by Les Rorick

​Performances: 7:30pm Thurs/Fri/Sat, 3pm Sundays

Tickets: $12-$28

NOTE: Saturday, June 25th, 8pm - Special additional performance of ‘Significant Other’ at The Acorn Theatre, Three Oaks, MI INFO

 

July 14 – 24

MIDWEST PREMIERE!

Lewiston/Clarkston 

A Diptych - Two One-Act plays performed consecutively

A play by Samuel D. Hunter. 
Directed by Spencer Diedrick.

Tickets
NOTE: Special Time - 6pm Thurs/Fri/Sat/Sun
Evening includes a separately priced dinner option between shows. Call for reservations.

August 18 - 28

Violet

Music by Jeanine Tesori, Lyrics and Book by Brian Crawley.

Based on “The Ugliest Pilgrim” by Doris Betts

Directed by Paul Mow. Music directed by Joshua Goines

Performances: 7:30pm Thurs/Fri/Sat, 3pm Sundays

Tickets: $12-$28

 

NOTE: Wed August 24-Special Performance -The Dunes Arts Foundation in Michigan City, IN   INFO

 

For more information, visit: www.ghostlightbh.com or call Ed Tracy at (312) 965-4834. The GhostLight Theatre, an innovative playhouse with a mission to enlighten, inspire, and illuminate Benton Harbor and the surrounding region, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization

101 Hinkley Street, Benton Harbor, MI 49022

GhostLightBH.com      269-252-5222

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GhostLight Theatre Announces Ed Tracy as
Interim Executive Director

BENTON HARBOR, MI (April 29, 2022) Southwest Michigan’s The GhostLight Theatre (“GhostLight”), a premier performing arts organization in the burgeoning Benton Harbor Arts District, announced today the appointment of Ed Tracy as interim Executive Director. Ed takes over from Co-Founder and Executive Director, Marty Hesse, who is relocating out of the area after five successful years in the position. 

Tracy brings a strong background in executive management of arts and cultural organizations, most recently as President of Roxbury Road Creative, LLC and previously, President/CEO and long-time program host of the Pritzker Military Museum and Library in Chicago.. In addition to wide-ranging experience in fundraising and executive leadership, strong interpersonal and personnel management skills, Tracy has been writing about and reviewing theatre in Chicago for many years. He and his wife Denise McGowan Tracy, an event producer, playwright and performer, moved to Benton Harbor last year.

 

GhostLight’s Board of Directors President, Brett Lutz, said, "GhostLight is thankful for all that Marty has done as co-founder and executive director to launch our vision of bringing together a community in active participation with the arts. This theater continues to draw some of the best talent, artistic partnerships and arts-based educational opportunities from around the country into southwest Michigan, and we are excited for Ed to accelerate GhostLight's establishment as a premier location for the performing arts to thrive in Benton Harbor." 

Co-Founder and Artistic Director, Paul Mow, welcomed Ed in his new role as executive director, saying, “In hiring Ed Tracy as interim executive director, our board of directors has found a true professional with both the experience and understanding of the demands and needs of a non-profit arts organization. 

Mow continued, “It has been an honor to build the foundation of GhostLight alongside Marty. She leaves behind a significant contribution to the Benton Harbor Arts District, and all of us in the SW Michigan arts community who have begun the passionate work on this project we call a ‘storefront’ theatre.” I look forward to working with both Marty and Ed during this transition as well as throughout the fantastic 2022 theatrical production and artistic camp season that we have in store for the community.” 

GhostLight’s 2022 season opens with the musical Little Women (May 19-29) based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott, followed by Joshua Harmon’s play Significant Other (June 9-19), the Midwest premiere of Samuel D. Hunter’s Lewiston/Clarkston (July 14-24) and the Jeanine Tesori/Brian Crowley musical Violet (August 18-28). 

GhostLight is hosting educational camps throughout the summer including: CircEsteem Kids (June 20-24) a day camp designed to build self-esteem & mutual respect through the practice & performance of circus arts; Discovering Your Voice By Learning to Write Like Shakespeare (July 25-29) with Ken Smith, PhD; and, BEST Camp - Building Excellence through Summer Theater (June 27-July 1), a collaboration with The Citadel Dance & Music Center.

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