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An interview with Christina Calvit

October 17th, 2014 Posted in Guest posts, Jane Eyre 2014 | Comments Off

Note: This is a guest posting from Autumn McConnico, production dramaturg for our fall MainStage production of Jane Eyre.

Jane Eyre’s adaptor, Christina Calvit, is a Lifeline ensemble member and has written numerous award-winning scripts, including the previous version of Jane Eyre. She revamped the script for this new production, and answered some questions for us about her work.

Q: When did you first read Jane Eyre? What got you involved in this adaptation that first time around?

A: I first read Jane Eyre as a teenager. When we did the show back in 1991, it was purely because Meryl Friedman (the director at that time) and I loved the story. In this current production, there are other things that interested us as well... but back then we just thought it was a great book that deserved to be on stage.

Q: I’m curious about how you begin an adaptation. With books of fair length like this one, hundreds of pages, there are so many words, scenes, characters: in the face of making a 100-page script, many may seem like distractions. How do you find the story you really want to tell from a book? What was particularly clear – or challenging – about Jane Eyre?

A: There is usually something thematic that catches at me...for Jane Eyre it was a persistence of childhood trauma. Then I look at the book through that prism and see what pops out. And I normally don't deconstruct a book in my work, so I look at the way the story is told and try to include what's necessary to that. And I look at the dialogue to try and find the very best. The hard thing with Jane Eyre is that there are so many, many great scenes. So much great back and forth, especially between Rochester and Jane. It's hard to choose.

Q: In this show, Jane’s past before arriving at Thornfield is told to us in a rather uncommon way. What brought you to this approach for the people of Jane’s past?

A: The first third of the book is all about Jane's youth. It's interesting that Bronte devotes so much space to it. You could make it happen in real time (and some of the movie and TV adaptations do), but I wanted to heighten those experiences and make them more important symbolically. So the show opens with a nightmare mash up of people from Jane's past: Aunt Reed, Mr. Brocklehurst, the headmaster of Lowood school, and Helen, her best friend at Lowood. They are the inner voices that have shaped her idea of her own self-worth and guide her choices, for good or bad. And they follow her for much of the play.

Q: What are you most excited about for this particular production? Do you have words for fans of the book who might be wondering what they will find in our show?

A: I like the nontraditional casting and staging—exploding the book a bit out of its period. It's an epic story that people come back to again and again, so it obviously speaks to us beyond the 1840's. The cast is amazing and the design is like nothing we've ever done at Lifeline before. It's a different kind of Jane Eyre. I'm hoping people will enjoy what they've always loved about the story and also see it in a new and deeper way.

Q: What’s next?

A: I'm off to shoot a commercial in Austin for Vitamix! Everyone should have one!

Thanks, Christina!

Autobiography

October 14th, 2014 Posted in Guest posts, Jane Eyre 2014 | Comments Off

Note: This is a guest posting from Autumn McConnico, production dramaturg for our fall MainStage production of Jane Eyre.

“Speak I must,” says Jane.

Who is listening to this story? Jane Eyre is subtitled An Autobiography, with Bronte’s pen name of Currer Bell credited as the editor. Jane frequently refers to the reader directly, in the manner of one expecting or assuming kinship:

“I will tell you, Reader, what they are.” “Reader, here an illustration.” and once, “(oh, romantic reader, forgive me for telling the plain truth!)”

Now we have two things: an awareness that this book is presented as an autobiography, having for its fictional frame a (mostly) realistic life; and a sense that its narrator seeks a voice in kind with our hearing, purposefully helping and entreating a real audience.

Linda Peterson describes Victorian and pre-Victorian placement of women outside the field of self-analysis and discovery by compiling a list of religious admonitions, concerns about a woman’s mental and spiritual weakness which may be so significant as to make it impossible for her to safely continue a thorough analysis of anything, especially a Biblical text, without guidance:

“Victorian women did not have the authority to speak the language of biblical types. By Pauline injunction, they had been admonished to ‘learn in silence with all subjection.’ ‘I suffer not a woman to teach,’ St. Paul had written, ‘nor to usurp authority over the man’ (I Tim. 2.11—12). By ecclesiastical decree, they were denied ordination in the Church of England during the whole of the nineteenth century, prohibited from interpreting the Scriptures to a congregation in most Dissenting sects, and banned from Methodist pulpits by the Convention of 1803. John Wesley's comments to Sarah Crosby, a woman who felt the call to preach, are instructive: ‘Even in public you may properly enough intermix short exhortations with prayer; but keep as far from what is called preaching as you can; therefore never rake a text; never speak in continued discourse without some break, about four or five minutes.’” (Peterson 131-2)

Peterson goes on to define Jane Eyre as a subversion of the further belief that female writing could be both factual and analytical or self-aware. Brontë used the novel as a perhaps satirical means of delineating “between when a woman may apply types and when she may not, between what aspects of a woman's life are accessible to typological interpretation and what aspects are beyond (or beneath) interpretation” (133).

Harriet Martineau, novelist and philosopher who wrote about feminine roles and sociological frames, and who wrote her own Autobiography to be published after her death in 1877, met Charlotte Brontë later in the latter’s life. Friends of Martineau who knew her life history, upon reading Jane Eyre, told Martineau they suspected she must have consulted in the writing, so close was Martineau’s accounted early life to that of the fictional Jane (and, perhaps by another degree, to Brontë). The events which Jane encountered early in her youth and adolescence might explain Jane’s later choices according to Peterson’s view of Martineau, since she “chooses to trace in the Autobiography the forces that contribute to the growth of a mind—and these forces, while including the internal, consist in greater proportion of the observable and external” (150). The autobiography, for Martineau and perhaps for Brontë, serves as a way of laying out the events of a life and considering them as instruments or guides in a continued development, the causes leading to the mind and situation of the narrator, the autobiographer – the person at the heart of the story who now has the voice to tell it.

“But in the world outside the novel, Brontë assumes no such enlightenment. Jane Eyre's autobiography makes its way into the world through the offices of a man, Currer Bell, who appears on the title page as the editor and who, according to Victorian convention, selects and arranges what a woman has to say about her life.” (135)

Is this why Jane tells her story so earnestly to a “reader”? Is it a “chick flick” of a book – or play – intended for female audiences to commiserate and nod along with, or take encouragement from? But Jane’s struggle to find listeners bridges gender divides, and falls along lines of authority of all sorts: age, institutional roles, religious and familial tradition. For our part now, knowing the Jane speaks directly to us as readers and, in Lifeline’s production, perhaps to us as viewers, there is an implicit need for a listener who will add another dimension to this conversation. That understanding of a need may place a heavier burden on us as observers, since we appreciate that extra relationship. Watching Jane’s life and the outcome of her repeated attempts to find a listener or kindred spirit, what do we see? According to Carla Kaplan, writing about the complications of reading Jane Eyre as a feminist conversation:

“…A ‘true conversation,’ in which neither partner dominates, controls, coerces, or instrumentalizes the other, in which the partners ‘do not talk at cross purposes,’ is an object of Jane's narrative desire to the very extent that it is not a feature of her everyday lived experience.”

So, it seems, the fictional world of Jane is not letting her voice resound. Are we to fill that void by giving her an outlet, an audience which will receive her story and use it? Kaplan goes on to ask, “does assuming that the text ‘desires me’ re-perform the essentialism against which this novel strains by assuming that because we can identify with Jane we must be the listener/lover she desires?” Later, we will ask this question of some of our Lifeline collaborators, to see what about Jane’s story impels them to help her tell it. And what about Jane’s story, Brontë’s story, we hope our own audiences will find to consider about us and themselves, and perhaps about the world we inhabit.

Further reading and quoted:

Kaplan, Carla. “Girl Talk: Jane Eyre and the Romance of Women’s Narration.” NOVEL: A Forum on Fiction. 30(1). Autumn 1996. pp. 5-31

Peterson, Linda H. “Chapter 5. Martineau’s Autobiography: The Feminine Debate Over Self-Interpretation.” from Victorian Autobiography: The Tradition of Self-Interpretation. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1986.

The Summer of Love!!

October 10th, 2014 Posted in General Thoughts, Posts by Dorothy, Staff | Comments Off

Lifeline recently bid sad adieu to the phenomenal intern class of Summer 2014:

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Left to right: Julianna Donaher (directing major at DePaul), Browyn Sherman (recent graduate from Loyola), Claudia Roy (acting major, Columbia), Martin Hanna (acting major ISU), Emily Wills (acting major, Northwestern), and Bo Johnson (Comedy Writing & Performance major, Columbia College)

This group excelled in can-do attitude and enthusiasm. Three cheers for Martin, who is on his way to spend a year at Arts University College at Bournemouth, and Browyn, who has now graduated from Loyola and assistant directed Jane Eyre. Look for Bo, Emily and Browyn -- you will see them at Lifeline this fall working front of house and driving the shuttle! We hope the rest of intern class summer 2014 will also be back at Lifeline soon! And we cheer them on as they finish their college degrees!

Dorothy Milne Artistic Director

Education in Jane’s time

October 8th, 2014 Posted in Guest posts, Jane Eyre 2014 | Comments Off

Note: This is a guest posting from Autumn McConnico, production dramaturg for our fall MainStage production of Jane Eyre.

“Isn’t she original?”

Jane Eyre. A short portrait of her faculties. She draws in charcoal, colors, and sketches. She debates over philosophy, religion, repentance, duty, and doubt with quite a few characters in the path of her novel. She tells her own story.

If we take her as a product of her period, how unique was Jane Eyre in the education and opportunity she received?

Today let’s talk about Jane’s education. At Lifeline, we have chosen to explore the childhood and early formative experiences – and characters – in Jane’s life as a presence in a way which I won’t tell for you here. You’ll recognize them when you see them. But as a fictional autobiography, JE gives us a large part of a young woman’s life to depict, and much of the earliest parts describe her education. Let us look at one of those early portions of Jane’s life though the lens of history. What was education like for Victorian girls, especially poor orphans?

Public education as we describe it in the United States (since the English term means something quite different) did not come about until well after the 1847 publication of Jane Eyre. Even the idea that all people should be educated took time to gain traction. Meanwhile, education for the poor was best found in parish schools and institutions providing tuition grants (“subscriptions”) by richer donors around the areas. Young orphans or poorer children with protectors motivated to educate them could perhaps depend on these subscriptions if a school with such a program were nearby, and these institutions might be more willing to accept poor pupils in order to expand their ranks – since after all, students could be asked to perform chores at the school. Charlotte herself attended the Clergy Daughters’ School in Cowan’s Bridge, in Lancashire starting in 1824, with a tuition starting at 14 pounds (compared to the 15 pounds for Jane Eyre’s Lowood Institution). From the Clergy Daughter’s educational report from 1842, quoted in Elizabeth Gaskell’s biography of Charlotte Bronte:

“The system of education comprehends history, geography, the use of the globes, grammar, writing, and arithmetic, all kinds of needlework, and the nicer kinds of household work – such as getting up fine linen, ironing, &c. If accomplishments are required, an additional charge of 3L. a year is made for music or drawing, each.”

Charlotte and Jane’s educations may have been the exception in the field of female study. Anne Clough, visitor to girls’ schools in the mid-1800s, observed: “A few dry facts are taught, but the life and spirit are too often left out and there is a monotony in girls' education which is very dulling to the intellect”. Analytical work may be pursued little if at all, and even historical facts and mathematics would make up the vast minority of time compared to calisthenics, sewing, and maybe music and language drilling. Indeed, spiritual and biological general views had for a while held that women lacked the ability to combine a strong memory for facts with a logical faculty for reasoning their causes, chronology, and implications – a slowly fading sense which made emergence of female authors of autobiography or analytical fiction stand out, something we will explore more. According to Clough, Girls' schools intentionally "accentuating the differences between the sexes" and were valued for improving social graces and displayable qualities, the all-important "accomplishments." And all the time, conditions of the school, high physical demands and less consistent sanitary conditions, could present further obstacles for students’ deep education.

Cowan’s Bridge was known for poorly managed kitchens, and not all Bronte sisters survived the school before their father removed them from it. Certainly Charlotte admitted to allowing parallels in school life of the novel, as in many other aspects, between her own world and Jane’s. Bronte even tentatively recanted some of her harsher portrayals of Lowood’s conditions – for health of emotion and of body both – because of the condemningly easy connection to her childhood school. From Gaskell again:

“Miss Bronte more than once said to me, that she should not have written what she did of Lowood … if she had though the place would have been so immediately identified with Cowan’s Bridge, although there was not a word in her account of the institution but what was true at the time when she knew it”

Yet Bronte depicted these realities as well as the learning that Jane did get away with. Perhaps she was lucky in her chance to learn French and drawing, reading the works that she did, at a charity school.

Meet the contestants #4: Mike Speller

June 13th, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off The 2nd Annual Smartypants Adult Spelling Bee is coming up on Monday, June 23rd at Mayne Stage. Between now and then, we'll be highlighting some of the competitors hoping to destroy the competition. Today, we meet Mike Speller. Q: Tell us a little about yourself.

A: I am a Crest Hill (Joliet) resident, used to live in Park Ridge & Uptown areas as well. I love poker, basketball, and collecting matchbooks. I teach history through a Will County museum.

Q: How many Spelling competitions have you taken part in? Any specific experience(s) you'd like to share?

A: Despite my name I don't believe I've ever competed in the category beyond board games like Scrabble.

Q: What motivated you to sign up?

A: A bucket-list mentality, family honor, and a chance to show up Aaron Spelling.

Q: What gives you an edge over the other contestants in this year's Smartypants Spelling Bee?

A: Genetics, Arrogance, and possibly Alcohol.

Q: Anything else about yourself that you'd like to share with the world?

A: If this were a reality show, I'd dignify that with an answer; but until E! Channel calls, I'll remain mysterious.

Meet the contestants #3: Polly Bruno

June 10th, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off The 2nd Annual Smartypants Adult Spelling Bee is coming up on Monday, June 23rd at Mayne Stage. Between now and then, we'll be highlighting some of the competitors hoping to destroy the competition. Today, we meet Polly Bruno.  Polly Bruno

Q: Tell us a little about yourself.

A: I hail from Hyde Park on the south side. All hail Hyde Park! I have also lived on the north side, in Evanston and in Glenview.

My favorite hobbies are reading, writing, dancing and cooking. I published a novel, Western Motel, in 1985 (as Polly Gross), and I am currently at work on a suspense novel. For my day job, I manage the meetings and events departments for a large retail pharmacy company. Previously, I managed a technical writing department, and I have been an English and Writing instructor at the University of California at Irvine.

Q: How many Spelling competitions have you taken part in? Any specific experience(s) you'd like to share?

A: I took part in my last spelling competition when I was in second grade. I was unfairly deprived of the win because I spelled Christmas "c-h-r-i-s-t-m-a-s" and did not say "Capital C-h-r-i-s-t-m-a-s." Although this policy had not been communicated in advance, and though my opponent had gone on to spell the word incorrectly, Miss Andrews declared a tie.

In short, I am seeking redemption!

Q: What gives you an edge over the other contestants in this year's Smartypants Spelling Bee?

A: I have true grit and the will to win. Also, I spell really, really well.

Q: Anything else about yourself that you'd like to share with the world?

A: My personal motto is "Fortunas audentes iuvat," or "Fortune favors the brave."

Meet the contestants #2: Karen Werner

June 6th, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off The 2nd Annual Smartypants Adult Spelling Bee is coming up on Monday, June 23rd at Mayne Stage. Between now and then, we'll be highlighting some of the competitors hoping to destroy the competition. Today, we meet Karen Werner.  Karen Werner Q: Tell us a little about yourself.

A: I live in Rogers Park. Born and grew up in Detroit. I came to Chicago by way of Green Lake and Milwaukee, WI. I don't have any hobbies, ha ha! When I'm not working, I try to find cheap entertainment, especially local, including Lifeline and Mayne Stage. I am a self-employed massage therapist.

Q: How many Spelling competitions have you taken part in? Any specific experience(s) you'd like to share?

A: In the seventh grade, I won every one of my English class spelling bees, and went on to win the school spelling bee. In the eighth grade, I took third place in the school spelling bee, and was sent to the district spelling bee at the last minute, because the first and second-place winners were sick. They put me in the principal's office the morning of the district, and gave me lists of words to memorize. I remember I went out on the word ameliorate, a word I had never heard before.

I was in the Lifeline spelling bee last year, and all I wanted was to spell my first word right. That didn't happen. I spelled marionette (a word I had spelled correctly the week before) with 2 n's, which is correct in French. French was my favorite subject from 5th grade through my sophomore year in college.
Q: What motivated you to sign up?

A: I wanted to recreate a positive experience of competing and to have fun with it. And to face my fear - of being onstage, and of looking stupid - because I could remember everything when I was 12, but that was a few years ago. I still want to spell my first word correctly.

Q: What gives you an edge over the other contestants in this year's Smartypants Spelling Bee?

A: Nothing, and I'm OK with that.

Q: Anything else about yourself that you'd like to share with the world?

A: I'm just trying to show up...for life.

Meet the contestants #1: Edward Thomas-Herrera

June 3rd, 2014 Posted in Events, Uncategorized | Comments Off The 2nd Annual Smartypants Adult Spelling Bee is coming up on Monday, June 23rd at Mayne Stage. Between now and then, we'll be highlighting some of the competitors hoping to destroy the competition. Today, we meet Edward Thomas-Herrera.  Edward Thomas-Herrera Q: Tell us a little about yourself.

A: Originally from Houston, Texas, I have been a writer, performer, director, producer working in Chicago for the past 25 years. I am one of the founders of BoyGirlBoyGirl, a solo performance ensemble. By day (i.e., for money), I sit at a computer, read e-mails, and move papers from one side of my desk to the other.

Q: How many Spelling competitions have you taken part in? Any specific experience(s) you'd like to share?

A: Since reaching adulthood a very long time ago, I have not spelled competitively. Back in grade school, I used to kick spelling ass on a regular basis. Between Comanche raids.

Q: What motivated you to sign up?

A: My legal spouse thinks I'm a good speller. I hope to prove him right. Maybe then he'll start listening to me when I suggest what color we should paint the living room.

Q: What gives you an edge over the other contestants in this year's Smartypants Spelling Bee?

A: When I hear a word, I can "see" it in my mind's eye. Spelled correctly, of course. I also wear colorful pants.

Q: Anything else about yourself that you'd like to share with the world?

A: Blue. A robin's egg blue. It'll make the room look bigger while contrasting nicely with the rust-orange curtains and the brown couch.

An interview with Elise Kauzlaric

December 16th, 2013 Posted in Ensemble Activities, Guest posts | Comments Off At the heart of every show you see at Lifeline Theatre is the work of our dedicated artistic ensemble. These 27 Chicago artists are continuously proposing new titles for production, hosting script readings, providing feedback on projects in development, commissioning music, meeting with designers, attending rehearsals, and slating projects for future seasons of award-winning shows.  To continue our work throughout the 2013-14 season, we've launched our Page To Stage Campaign to raise $25,000 by February 28th. As part of this campaign, Alex Kyger, Lifeline's Development Director, interviewed two of our ensemble members. Today, Alex presents an interview with Elise Kauzlaric.  elise_ql Q: How did you first get involved with Lifeline?

A: I first auditioned for Bunnicula in 1999, and I ended up understudying two roles and I had a ton of opportunities to perform. And then two ensemble members that had been involved in Bunnicula, Shole and Sandy, cast me in another KidSeries show the next year, My Father’s Dragon.

Q: How did you end up becoming an ensemble member?
A: I acted in several more shows after My Father’s Dragon, with Queen Lucia, Strong Poison, and The Silver Chair. And I was also asked to direct a KidSeries show, Frances’ first Emperor’s Groovy New Clothes. And then I started coaching dialects for shows as well. So I had worn a few different hats after a few years and I had the chance to work with nearly everyone in the ensemble at that point. And I was asked to join the ensemble 2005. Before being asked, I had already considered it an artistic home for many years. I had worked here more than any other theatre and felt really connected to it. And since joining, I’ve had a chance to wear even more hats. I started to direct more and I wrote my first adaptation after joining the ensemble.
Q: What has surprised you most about working with Lifeline?

A: I don’t think it’s surprising, but something that's really notable is the fact that there’s such support from everyone in the organization for you to try and do new things. I had directed one KidSeries show and didn’t have a ton of experience when I began directing Mariette in Ecstasy. Christina, who adapted it, had such faith in me and she supported me throughout the process. And I think that’s something very special about Lifeline is that everybody is here to support you and really encourage you to try different things.

Q: What was the first show you adapted?

A: At the first ensemble meeting I attended as a member of the company, I brought up The Velveteen Rabbit. We were looking for KidSeries titles, and I thought “surely this book has come up,” because to me it was a well-known title and I had read it a lot growing up. And it turned out that the title was in the public domain so it was easy to get started on it. It was a natural project for me to do and a really comfortable one for me to do as my first adaptation.

Q: How does the ensemble support you when you’re taking on a production capacity for the first time?

A: Well, I think the biggest form of support comes from the group saying “Yes, you should do this adaptation” or “yes, you should direct.” Honestly, that’s the biggest step. And because our rehearsal process is set up to allow for support along the way, you consistently hear feedback from your peers from the first rehearsal to the opening performance. And ensemble members do that for you because they care about the show and they care about your own personal development as well.

Q: How do you think other ensemble members would describe you?

A: Artistically, I would hope that they would say that I have a lot of passion for the projects that I’m involved with. That the stakes are always high for me because my heart is always in it what I’m doing. I want the final product to be excellent, so I work hard.

Q: What do you wish other people knew about Lifeline?

A: I hope our audience members know how much care and attention we put into the choices we make. When adapting a show we have to decide what will be moving, exciting, and entertaining for our audience. And in that process, the small things are very important. I think people would be amazed at some of the things that we debate, it could be something that just goes by them and they don’t even notice. But that’s because we are really passionate about properly telling the story.

Q: How do you think you’ve grown as an artist since joining the Lifeline ensemble?

A: As an ensemble member, working with Lifeline has allowed me to continually grow as an artist in an intentional way. I have the chance to say for example, “I think this project will allow me to direct, which I’ve never done before.” It’s allowed me to be mindful about my growth.

And then, because I’m part of an ensemble, my ideas are often challenged and it forces me to articulate why I’m making specific choices. I can’t make arbitrary decisions. Because even if I don’t take a person’s suggestion, I will have to articulate and justify my choice.

Q: Do you have a favorite Lifeline memory that you would be willing to share?

A: I think that we all remember watching one of the early rehearsals for The Island of Dr. Moreau as a really special moment. It was before the set had been built and it was in a bare room with no technical elements and no costumes. The show was tight, the actors were committed, and it was stunning. And I remember thinking that THIS is what we want to share with our audiences: simply great storytelling.

And I’ve really enjoyed the time I’ve spent with other ensemble members. Even though we have a lot of debates, we also laugh hysterically together – it’s definitely a family. And these are people that I never would have met without this theatre. The relationships I’ve made here are really important to me. I’ve developed a lot of wonderful friendships.

An interview with Peter Greenberg

December 13th, 2013 Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

At the heart of every show you see at Lifeline Theatre is the work of our dedicated artistic ensemble. These 27 Chicago artists are continuously proposing new titles for production, hosting script readings, providing feedback on projects in development, commissioning music, meeting with designers, attending rehearsals, and slating projects for future seasons of award-winning shows. 

To continue our work throughout the 2013-14 season, we've launched our Page To Stage Campaign to raise $25,000 by February 28th. As part of this campaign, Alex Kyger, Lifeline's Development Director, interviewed two of our ensemble members. Today, Alex presents an interview with Peter Greenberg.

 peter

Q: How did you first get involved with Lifeline?

A: My very first experience with Lifeline was coming to see a show, actually. I was new to Chicago and a friend of mine invited me to see Pinocchio at Lifeline. And not long before I saw that show, I had seen another show with a group of women doing monologues called “Sweating Under my Breasts.” Well, when I came to see the show at Lifeline, a couple of the people from that show were in the front row. One of them was Dorothy, who was an ensemble member not artistic director, at that time. And I thought the show was great, the theatre space was cool, and the neighborhood was really funky. So Dorothy and I became friends and a few years after I had seen Pinocchio, Dorothy called me and said that she was directing a show, The Talisman Ring, and she asked me to play a role. She had never seen me perform before, but she thought I would be a great fit for that part. And that’s how I got cast in my first Lifeline show.

Q: How did you become an ensemble member at Lifeline?

A: I acted in a few more shows and I started to know more of the people involved with the theatre. And I believe it was Dorothy who talked me about the possibility of joining the ensemble. I was excited by the opportunity. I had helped run a theatre company before and I was missing the feeling of being part of a company instead of simply working from show to show.

Q: What do you wish other people knew about Lifeline?

A: Our KidSeries is unlike any other children’s theatre that I know of in the city. The artists that we have working on those shows always impress me with their commitment to the work. And I think the shows are phenomenal.

Also, I think people would be surprised by the variety of stories we tell. We receive a lot of attention when we do our long-dress shows with lots of British accents; but we have always been committed to contemporary and sci-fi works as well. From Sirens of Titan to Neverwhere to The City & The City last year.

Q: Do you have a favorite Lifeline memory that you would like to share?

A: There is one story that I’ll never forget. It was 7 or 8 years ago when we did Gaudy Night. And we did a special semi-staged performance of the play out at Wheaton College because they were hosting an annual Dorothy L. Sayers conference – which only happens every 5 years or so. And everyone in that audience loved that book. These were people, much like our audience, who have a long history of reading the author

After the performance, I was getting undressed in a classroom because were performing at this school. And the president of the Sayers society was this sweet British guy. And I’m standing in this room in my boxer shorts because I’m getting out of my costumes and he just started rushing toward me with his arms wide open. And loosening his tie. And I remember thinking “well, this is a strange situation.”

And he came up to me and I don’t remember the exact words he said, but he told me how much he loved the show and how much he appreciated the work we had done. And on his tie was the Wimsey crest for the Wimsey family in Gaudy Night. And he gave me his tie.

And that kind of appreciation for the book happens over and over again with our audiences. When we did Jane Eyre, there were people who came up to us afterwards who were seriously affected by the show. The great thing about doing adaptations is that so many people already know and have loved these characters, often, for decades. And at the same time, we introduce people to these stories for the first time. We have the most amazing audience you can imagine. And being able to interact with our audience – it’s why we love to make theatre.

 
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