Posts Tagged Ashley raper

AIRNESS BRINGS ROCK GLORY TO SAINT PAUL

Air guitar crosses into theatre with an epic feel-good comedy at Park Square

Three people all doing air guitar moves.

Neal Skoy, Julia Valen and Michael Terrell Brown are ready to rock out in Airness.

Saint Paul, MN. April 11, 2022: For its first full production since March of 2020, Park Square Theatre offers a breath of fresh air with an uplifting story about air guitar enthusiasts. AIRNESS, by Chelsea Marcantel, directed by Angela Timberman will be staged on Park Square’s Proscenium Stage, May 11 – June 5, 2022. (link to photos)

A righteous and smile-inducing comedy, AIRNESS begins as newcomer Nina enters her first air guitar competition. She thinks winning will be easy, but as she befriends a group of charismatic fanatics all committed to becoming the next champion, she discovers that there’s more to the art form than playing pretend; it’s about forging friendships, finding yourself in your favorite songs, and performing with raw joy. 

“Have you ever tried to find something you really want and then you accidentally find what you really need instead?” ask director Angela Timberman. “That’s what this play is about.” With samples of favorite rock anthems threaded throughout, including hits by Queen, the Ramones, Pat Benetar and many more, AIRNESS is an exuberant reminder that everything we need to rock is already inside us.

“An all-out comedy that’s fricking funny, hella heartfelt, and badass brilliant.” — DC Metro

A  group from Park Square fell in love with the play when it premiered at the Humana Festival of New American Plays in Louisville in 2017. The original January 2021 production was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, so it is with a roar of rock catharsis that AIRNESS at last makes its shredding, stage ascension. 

“I love how AIRNESS doesn’t take itself too seriously,” says Park Square Artistic Associate, Ellen Fenster. “It’s even better after the pandemic, it’s the breath of freshness which we all need right now, and yet, it really resonates today in terms of trying to ‘figure out how the skin I’m in connects to others.’ It portrays a place, physically and emotionally, where the characters really feel seen, when they are usually not seen in that way. It celebrates the human capacity for strange and unique passions, things people find to make meaning in their lives, connect with others, and find a place of belonging. Who knew air guitar was such a serious business?”

The play’s title comes from the three judging criteria of competitive air guitar: technical merit, stage presence and airness. “The last criteria is the most difficult to define yet often the most decisive of all,” according to the US Air Guitar Association’s website. “Airness is defined as the extent to which a performance transcends the imitation of a real guitar and becomes an art form in and of itself.” Minneapolis hosted the U.S. Air Guitar Championships in 2012, but anyone looking to get involved in 2022 will have to travel as the nearest competitions (at time of writing) are in Cleveland and Nashville. So put on your coolest power outfit, grab your best friend or a new crush, and head to Park Square to rock out with a play for everyone whose inner rock-god is waiting to break free.

The cast for AIRNESS includes Shae Palic* (Astrid “CANNIBAL QUEEN” Anderson), Daniel Petzold* (Mark “FACEBENDER” Lender), Neal Skoy (Ed “SHREDDY EDDY” Leary), Michael Terrell Brown (Gabe “GOLDEN THUNDER” Partridge), Julia Valen (Nina O’Neal), and understudies Berto Borroto and Maggie Cramer.

The production team for AIRNESS includes Angela Timberman* (Director), Dorian Brooke (Assistant Director), MJ Leffler (Set Designer), Ash M. Kaun (Costume Designer), Eric M. C. Gonzalez (Sound Designer), Alex Clark (Lighting Designer), Christopher Heilman (Props Designer), Jess Rau (Wig Designer), Kathy Maxwell (Projection Designer), Leslie Ritenour (Assistant Projection Designer), Ashley Raper* (Stage Manager), and Jaya Robillard (Assistant Stage Manager).

*Member, Actors Equity Association

TICKET PRICES: Previews: $27-$37. Regular Run: $40-$55. Discounts are available for students and educators, seniors, military personnel, those under age 30, and groups. Tickets are on sale by phone at 651.291.7005, (12 noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday), or online at parksquaretheatre.org.   #pstAirness

COVID-19 vaccinations or negative test results as well as masks are required at all performances. 

PHOTOS by Richard Fleischman Photography on the Park Square website HERE, or in Google Drive HERE.

FACE TO FACE takes the stage

Hmong Community Members take center stage in new theatrical Production created with Ping Chong + Company

Media Contact – Connie Shaver 612.308.5785
shaver@parksquaretheatre.org

Image of 5 women in a group. They are in a mix of styles of clothing and are all smiling.

Saint Paul, Minn., Feb 24, 2020 – Park Square Theatre resumes its 2019-2020 season with the world premiere production of FACE TO FACE: HMONG WOMEN’S EXPERIENCES (Mar 5-15), an interview-based theater production co-written and co-directed by Sara Zatz (Associate Director, Ping Chong + Company) and Twin Cities theater artist Katie Ka Vang, featuring five local Hmong community members, all women, sharing their true stories on stage. Told with humor, heart, and courage, it addresses complex issues such as the history and arrival of the Hmong community in St. Paul, coming of age as a first-generation Hmong American, and finding your own voice and identity while balancing culture and family.

The project began in April 2019; then community info sessions were held, and the open call for participants started and continued through October. The script is created from extensive interviews conducted by Zatz and Vang with the five cast members, then woven together to tell performers’ individual experiences in a chronological narrative that connects the personal to the political, with final script approval maintained by the cast. Through their stories, the cast addresses topics including mental health and depression, bullying, domestic and sexual violence, gender identity, beauty standards and more.

The script is performed by the community interviewees themselves, not actors. The result is a highly theatrical and emotional story-telling experience; what Ping Chong + Company Artistic Director Ping Chong calls a “seated opera for the spoken word.”

FACE TO FACE is a partnership with the internationally renowned Ping Chong + Company, a New York leader in community-specific, interview-based theatre events. Written and directed by Sara Zatz and Katie Ka Vang, in collaboration with the performers, the project is part of Ping Chong + Company’s ongoing interview-based community–specific oral history theatre work, Undesirable Elements.

The performers include Laurine Chang, Houa Moua, Pang Chai Xiong, Pang Foua Xiong and Cydi Ywj Siab Yang.

The Production team includes Sara Zatz (Co-writer/Co-director), Katie Ka Vang (Co-writer/Co-director) Maxwell Collyard (Video Designer) Shannon Elliott (Light Designer), Ashley Raper (Stage Manager) and Akiem Scott (Sound Designer).

The project received special funding from the Saint Paul Cultural STAR program, the Marbrook Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

ABOUT THE LEAD ARTISTS

Sara Zatz (Co-writer/Co-director) is the Associate Director of Ping Chong + Company where she oversees the company’s community engagement and training programs, and is the lead-artistic collaborator with Ping Chong on the interview-based Undesirable Elements series, exploring issues of culture and identity in the lives of individuals in specific communities. She is the writer and director of Secret Survivors, a work in a series which explores the experiences of survivors of child sexual abuse. Recent productions include (Un)Conditional, with individuals living with chronic illness (Profile Theatre), Generation NYZ  with NYC teens (New Victory Theater, La MaMa ETC), Undesirable Elements: Dearborn (Arab American National Museum), and Beyond Sacred: Voices of Muslim Identity (national touring). She has spoken and presented workshops on community-engaged theater at many conferences and universities. She lives in Jackson Heights, Queens with her family.

Katie Ka Vang (Co-writer/Co-director) is a Hmong American Theater Artist and Playwright. Her work explores the complexities of identity. Her plays include WTF, Hmong Bollywood, 5:1 Meaning of Freedom; 6:2 Use of Sharpening, Myth of Xee, Fast FWD Motions, In Quarantine, FINAL ROUND and Spirit Trust. Her work has been developed and produced at Theater Mu, Pillsbury House Theatre, CHAT, Bushwick Starr, Bedlam Theatre, Theatre Unbound, Walker Art Center, Out North Art House, Intermedia Arts, Northern Sparks, The Royal Court (London) and Brown University. She’s received support from The Jerome Foundation, Knight Foundation, National Performance Network, Metropolitan Region Arts Council, and Minnesota State Arts Board. She holds an MFA in Playwriting from Brown University.

ABOUT PING CHONG + COMPANY COMMUNITY PROJECTS

“Generating empathy, defying small-mindedness, this is an inherently political show that arrives at a time of fervently uncivil discourse [and] believes in the power of storytelling to create a stronger, kinder culture.” The New York Times

“…consistently powerful and eye-opening.” The Washington Post

Ping Chong + Company produces works addressing the important cultural and civic issues of our times, creating theater that crosses boundaries of identity, community, and form.  Founded in 1975 by National Medal of Arts recipient Ping Chong, the company’s projects initiate dialogue about identity and the power of sharing individuals’ stories. This production is part of an ongoing series of community-specific oral history theater works known as the Undesirable Elements series. Created in 1992 by Ping Chong, each production is made in a specific community, with local participants testifying to their real lives and experiences. The script is based on interviews with the participants who then share their own true stories in the final production. Since 1992, over 60 productions have been made across the United States and abroad. Recent productions have explored themes as far ranging as the disability experience, Native American identity, the experiences of refugees in the U.S., and the experiences of survivors of sexual abuse. Ping Chong + Company has created documentaries, toolkits, and training workshops and arts education programs for communities who wish to use the arts to address social justice issues in their own work.

Ticket prices: $16-$30. Discounts are available for seniors, military personnel, those under age 30, and groups. Tickets are on sale at the Park Square Ticket Office, 20 W. Seventh Place, or by phone: 651.291.7005, (12 noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday), or online at parksquaretheatre.org.   #pstFACETOFACE

CALENDAR INFORMATION

Regular Run: Mar 5-15, 2020
Opening Night Reception: Mar 6
Post-show discussions: Mar 8 and 15

Tickets: $16-30
PARK SQUARE THEATRE, 20 W. Seventh Place, Saint Paul
Ticket office: 651.291.7005 or parksquaretheatre.org

PHOTOS by Tomas Leal at parksquaretheatre.org/media/photos/

The Ticket Office is open from noon to 5:00 pm Wednesday through Friday. Call 651.291.7005.

SEASON TICKETS are on sale now.  Subscription package prices begin at $66.

PARK SQUARE THEATRE. 20 W. Seventh Place, Saint Paul. Ticket Office: 651.291.7005. parksquaretheatre.org

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Tickets

The Park Square Ticket Office is open for phone calls Wednesday and Thursday from noon to 5:00 pm.
Please call 651.291.7005.

For service other days of the week, please email tickets@parksquaretheatre.org.

Tickets can be purchased online at anytime.

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