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Center Stage

More companies offering live theatre options

6/2/2021

There are sunnier days ahead for the live arts scene. 

The performing arts landscape has been like an Iowa springtime. Patrons impatiently endure an extended winter of desolation, waiting and waiting. A crocus of a show pops through the snow as one company finds a way to present live theatre. Then, another welcome bit of life-renewing respite presents itself. Finally, a burst of encouraging weather, and a bounty of options suddenly dot the theatrical meadows. A soothing image, but encouraging for producers and the public. While not in full-blown blossoming glory, there are sunnier days ahead for the live arts scene.

Theatre Midwest ventures adds in-person to virtual presentation

“Atlas of Mud” has simmered on this company’s schedule since the pandemic darkened the performing scene. Jennifer Fawcett’s powerful play is described as “a mythical allegory about finding hope in a world turned unrecognizable.” 

“Atlas of Mud” (June 12-13, 19-20, Saturday evenings, Sunday matinees) closes Theatre Midwest’s third season, which featured plays by playwrights who lived and worked in the Midwest. Jennifer Fawcett  spent several years in Iowa, including as a student and graduate of University of Iowa’s writing program and as a member of Iowa City’s thought-provoking Working Group Theatre. 

Director Tom Woldt continues to bring exceptional plays for audiences that otherwise likely would not be seen. Theatre Midwest does so through a tiered ticketing structure, including offering free tickets. Woldt and his band of creatives want to give anyone the chance to experience the power and magic of live theatre. Their past productions are excellent indicators of their commitment to their mission: “…professionals creating works of relevance to the people of the Midwest, with particular attention to the voices of women and other under-represented groups.”

Prep Iowa - Pride Month

Cast of Des Moines Playhouse/Pyramid Theatre Company co-production of “A Love Offering” (left to right): Jackie Schmillen, Heaven Booker, Courageous Fire, Mark Pullen, Sean Kanuso. Photo credit: Brent Isenberger

The Playhouse continues to lead, with exciting new collaborator

With the resources to forge safe live theatre opportunities, the Des Moines Community Playhouse opens “A Love Offering,” an exciting co-production with Pyramid Theatre Company. Running from June 4-20, Jonathan Norton’s play delves deeply into the world of caregivers, and patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Norton brings an unfiltered and personal perspective to this narrative, and co-directors Tiffany Johnson and Katy Merriman leverage their talented cast and production team to deliver a memorable understanding of a world many have experienced, and all should see.

This production is a powerful collaboration, and helps bridge worlds through a shared process. Pyramid’s mission “…to provide a gateway to the arts for the Des Moines community by illuminating the presence of Black artists in the theatre canon and providing a means of artistic expression to emerging Black voices…” blends with the Playhouse’s mission “…to change lives by entertaining, enriching and engaging the people of our community…” 

May the Central Iowa producing community continue to establish and develop such partnerships. We all benefit from them. 

An offering on the lighter side

Iowa Stage Theatre Company is presenting Ike Holter’s hilarious, heartbreaking dramedy “Exit Strategy.” The show will stream digitally on BroadwayOnDemand.com from June 4-13. Artistic Director Matt McIver, who directs this show, says, “Holter tells hilarious, moving stories about the people our society has failed, and makes you care about everyone onstage.” This production features many top actors in central Iowa bringing Holter’s playwriting magic to life. 

Iowa Stage also has demonstrated exceptional work on the technical side, bringing cinematic excellence to their streaming work. Media veteran G. Thomas Fergerson again leads the production crew.

Des Moines Performing Arts just announced a schedule of free shows to be presented at various locations throughout the metro area. Check their website for details.

Overheard in the Lobby 

Check for updates with each company regarding future plans and how to support.

Ankeny Community Theatre – www.ankenycommunitytheatre.com

Carousel Theatre of Indianola – www.carouseltheatre.org

Class Act Productions – www.captheatre.org

Des Moines Community Playhouse/Kate Goldman Theatre – www.dmplayhouse.com

Des Moines Performing Arts – For rescheduled, canceled, postponed events and FAQ https://desmoinesperformingarts.org/covid-19-update/

Des Moines Young Artists’ Theatre – www.dmyat.org

Iowa Shakespeare Experience – www.iowashakespeare.org

Iowa Stage Theatre Company – www.iowastage.org

Pyramid Theatre Company – www.pyramidtheatre.org

Tallgrass Theatre Company – www.tallgrasstheatre.org

Urbandale Community Theatre – www.urbandaletheatre.com ♦

John Busbee is a creative project developer, critic, playwright, author, producer and media professional. He has produced his weekly show, The Culture Buzz, on KFMG since 2007.

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