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Wednesday, December 16,2009

Curtain raising

BoarsHead interns hope to show human face of Israel-Palestine

by Chris Parks
Much attention is given to a story set thousands of years ago in the Holy Land this time of year, but BoarsHead Theater’s Second Co. will offer a more recent, and sobering, look at the region when it opens “Still, Small, Voices” for a short run this week at the otherwise closed theater.

The original work by BoarsHead intern Maren Rosenberg is a compilation of her interviews and experiences while visiting Israel and Palestine. The playwright hopes her work shows the humanity in a conflict seen by so many as having no bearing on their lives. “I think it’s much more difficult for people to behave as terribly as they have been on both sides when they remember that most of the people who are being affected are just like themselves,” Rosenberg said.


Rosenberg described the play as having an “Alice in Wonderland” quality, as it follows a character, not unintentionally named Alice, down “the proverbial rabbit hole,” where she meets the different characters Rosenberg interviewed. “The majority of the play takes place … in the West Bank, and the audience will hopefully go through these experiences and encounters with Alice,” Rosenberg said.

Since many of the interviews were conducted in Hebrew or Arabic, the stories aren’t told word for word, but Rosenberg said she did her best to honor the spirit of what people said. “If someone who were to be in the audience knew these people, I don’t feel they would have a particularly difficult time knowing which person I spoke to,” she said.

Directing Rosenberg’s piece is fellow BoarsHead intern Ashleigh Millet. In addition to penning the play, Rosenberg also acts in it, which she called an “illuminating” experience.


Following the performances will be a talkback, featuring the actors and creators, as well as Nidal Al Azraq, a Palestinian filmmaker and refugee. Rosenberg said getting a perspective from someone who lived through the experiences in the play is invaluable, since so much information comes secondhand.


Donations will be accepted at the performance, with proceeds going to the Land for Lajee Project, an effort to buy land around the Aida Refugee Camp near Bethlehem to provide more area for refugees.


While “Still, Small Voices” is more serious than typical holiday fare, Rosenberg said it holds a special message, even during this time of the year, which she hopes the 1 performance Neighborly conveys. Xmas “Celebrate 12/9 & 12/16 and be a part of the global family and the human family,” she said. “The strength you draw from being with your family at the holidays, you can also draw from being connected to the rest of the world.”


‘Still, Small Voices’


Dec.
18-20 8 p.m. Friday & Saturday 2 p.m. Sunday BoarsHead Theater, 425
S. Grand Ave., Lansing FREE, Donations accepted for Land for Lajee
project (517) 484-7805 www.boarshead.org



Samuel Clemens is coming to town


Stormfield Theatre may be the new kid on the block in Lansing, but the young company has already secured a guest performance by a very high-profile talent:
Mark Twain.


For one night only, Stormfield will present Chicago actor Richard Henzel to perform his one-man show, “Mark Twain in Person,” at Lansing’s Walnut Hills Country Club.


The performance will hold special meaning for the new theater, which staged its first performance in November. Stormfield is named for Twain’s 1909 work, “Captain Stormfield’s Visit to Heaven.” Twain also named his final home in Connecticut “Stormfield” after the story.


In honor of the theater’s namesake, Henzel will perform part of the story, a first in his 40 years of playing Twain.


Throughout the show, Henzel typically shares pieces from Twain’s novels, short stories and speeches, tailoring each perfor mance to the audience through familiarity with his material, and the town in which he’s performing. “I get there a day early and go to a diner or library and just sort of eavesdrop and see if I can feel something about the community that will work for that night’s show,” he said.


Despite doing it for so long, Henzel said he never tires of the role. “I don’t get burned out,” he said. “Every time I know I’ve got another show coming up, I start to get a little edge of stage fright.”


“[Henzel] really does recreate the world of Mark Twain. He’s quite the expert,” Thatcher said. “I just think it will be a delightful evening.”


“Mark Twain in Person.” 8 p.m. Dec. 19. Walnut Hills, 2874 Lake Lansing Road. $20. (517) 372-0945 for credit card reservations. Cash or check only at the door.




Twas the week before


Those yet to get their fill of holiday cheer may want to check out what Riverwalk Theatre and/or Lansing Civic Players are up to this week.


Riverwalk will stage “Ned Neighborly Christmas Hour: Radio Memories 1953,” taking the audience back in time to the days when families would crowd around the radio. Civic Players will offer the new, lighthearted comedy, “I’ll Make Merry When I’m Good and Ready!” about an elf who has worked a few too many hours for Santa this season.




“Ned Neighborly Christmas Hour:
Radio Memories 1953.” 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 19; 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 20. Riverwalk Theatre, 228 Museum Drive, Lansing. $7/$15. (517) 482-5700. www. riverwalktheatre.com.


“I’ll Make Merry When I’m Good and Ready.” 8 p.m. Thursday & Friday, Dec. 17 & 18, 11 a.m. & 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 20. Lansing Civic Players, 2300 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing. $10. (517) 484- 9115. www.lansingcivicplayers.org.

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