Forward Theater Company News
Poetry of the Prophet
Forward Theater Company will open their 2013-14 season with the Wisconsin premiere of Sons of the Prophet by acclaimed playwright Stephen Karam. A dark comedy about one family's ability to withstand a hailstorm of misfortunes, the play's main character is a distant relation of Lebanese-American poet Khalil Gibran, author of The Prophet.
To complement the production, Forward partnered with Verse Wisconsin and invited Madison-area writers to create original poetry in response to the play’s source material and subject matter. The selected poems will be published in the October issue of Verse Wisconsin, and displayed in the lobby of the Overture Center during the run of Sons of the Prophet in November.
Two additional collaborations, with the Wisconsin Book Festival and the Wisconsin Historical Society, invite audiences to see the winning poets read their pieces alongside actors reading scenes from Sons of the Prophet.
Wisconsin Book Festival
October 19, 12:00 - 1:30 pm
Overture Center for the Arts, Madison
Click here for more information.
Poetry of the Prophet
October 24, 6:30 - 9:00 pm
Wisconsin Historical Museum, Madison
Call 608-264-6555 or click here to reserve space by October 17.
Scheduling an Audition
Forward Theater's open auditions on October 7th and 8th are almost here! Here's the information you'll need to reserve a three-minute audition slot.
1. This process should take less than five minutes to complete. First, visit the Forward Theater Acuity Scheduling website: https://forwardtheater.acuityscheduling.com/schedule.php
2. Select your preferred audition date, either October 7 or October 8.
3. Select your preferred audition slot from the list of available times (between 6:00pm and 9:00pm).
4. Fill in Your Information and click Continue.
5. Fill in the Audition Sign-up Form. (Note some fields are required.)
6. Click Finish to confirm your appointment. You will automatically receive an email confirming your audition time. On the final page, you do not need to Register an Account in order to schedule an audition time.
8. Easy right? Now you’ve got plenty of time to polish your monologue.
Innovative collaboration between Forward Theater Company and Goodman Community Center offers much more than a free ticket
Madison, WI September 3, 2013 – Professional theater is alive and well in Madison, and one local patron is giving some Madison residents the chance to discover that for themselves.
Efrat Livny, a longtime fan and supporter of Forward Theater Company, has lots of enthusiasm for live, local theater. So, as a gift in memory of her parents who instilled the love of theater and art in her, she is making it possible for Forward Theater and the Goodman Community Center to collaboratively launch an exciting program. This unique program is designed to give community members who have not had the experience of seeing a live theater performance and for whom cost may be a barrier, an opportunity to do so — complete with a ride to the Overture Center, dinner and child care for those who need it.
This November, 50 program participants at the center will receive tickets to see Sons of the Prophet, by Stephen Karam, which focuses on a family keeping their sense of humor in the face of hardship. In addition to tickets for the play, Forward will provide a teaching artist who will meet with everyone the week before seeing the show to introduce the play and then again after they have seen the show to discuss the play and their experience, to answer questions and to converse about whatever people are curious about. Participants will choose one of two performances to attend, the center will provide transportation and baby-sitting services and Livny is arranging for each group to have a meal at Ian’s Pizza before or after the show. To wrap it all up, Forward artists, Goodman staff and Livny will meet to discuss the program and the possibility of repeating it or expanding it. Livny is hoping that the program’s success will inspire others to help fund it and/or to establish similar programs in other community centers.
Jennifer Uphoff Gray, Artistic Director at Forward Theater Company, is thrilled. “Forward Theater Company was founded on a commitment to the civic life of our community. Thanks to Efrat’s gift, we can fulfill that commitment by giving people in our community who may not have access to the arts — especially live theater — an opportunity to not only see a great performance, but to talk with actors and directors and share that experience with their friends and community.” And, according to Gray, Livny’s gift will also help Forward understand how they might increase audience diversity and engagement across the community, which is a core part of their mission.
Becky Steinhoff, Executive Director of the Goodman Community Center, knows these tickets will be popular, “Last spring, Forward made it possible for several of our low-income teens, their parents and some of our staff to see their production of Good People and it was a total hit. Clara, a receptionist here who grew up in poverty and still struggles, had never been to the Overture Center, much less seen a live play. The next day she was telling everyone about it, ‘I loved it. I can’t believe how much I loved it. It was SO good. I’ll go every chance I get.’ And with the chance to meet the artists and learn about the play before going, I think they are guaranteed to have a rich experience again.”
Forward Theater Company is a not-for-profit theater company in residence at Madison’s Overture Center that was founded in 2009 to provide a home base for Wisconsin theater professionals and audiences that expands the cultural and economic life of the greater Madison area. For more information about Forward, visit forwardtheater.com.
The Goodman Community Center is one of the busier neighborhood centers in Madison. The Center offers many programs to strengthen the lives of preschoolers through teens, meals and social activities for older adults, a food pantry, a gym, an exercise facility and community space. For more information about Goodman, visit goodmancenter.org.
Forward Theater Company Announces Open
Auditions 10/7 and 10/8, 2013
Madison, WI -- Forward Theater Company will hold general auditions for adult actors (ages 16 and up) from 6:00pm – 9:00pm on Monday, October 7th and Tuesday, October 8th. Actors will be considered for roles in its New Play Development Reading Series (performances tentatively scheduled for March 1 and May 3, 2014) and for various roles in the 2014–15 season (TBD). The auditions will be held at the Rotunda Studio (in the Overture Center for the Arts.) Callbacks for FTC shows will be scheduled later this year.
To reserve a three-minute audition slot, please visit the Forward Theater website (forwardtheater.com) on or after Thursday, September 26th and follow the link to an electronic scheduling form. While we will do our best to accommodate all interested actors, audition times will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis and will only be arranged through the website.
• Please come prepared with a memorized, contemporary (post-1950), 2-minute monologue from any published play.
• Bring two copies of your headshot and theatrical resume.
• Please arrive 15 minutes ahead of your scheduled audition time.
To prepare for these auditions, Forward Theater will offer free, one-on-one coaching sessions in the weeks prior to the auditions, for actors wishing to polish their audition presentations. Space is limited and sessions will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis.
AEA Actors: Forward Theater will hold its annual Equity general auditions in conjunction with American Players Theatre on Monday, September 23 and Tuesday, September 24 at the Madison Opera Center at 335 W Mifflin Street, in Madison. For more information on these auditions or to reserve a slot, please consult the AEA website (actorsequity.org) or contact the Chicago Equity office. About Forward Theater Company Founded in 2009, the mission of FTC is: to create a home base for Wisconsin theater professionals and audiences that expands the economic and cultural life of the greater Madison area.
'Love' springs inspirational for Madison's Forward Theater
Mike Fischer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Photo by Zane Williams
Madison - I wish I could tell you that the outstanding production on stage at Madison's Forward Theater was coming to Milwaukee some time soon.
But it won't and I can't, so here's the scoop: Gas up the car and head west, because you have just one chance to see two of Wisconsin's finest actors performing three short plays about how we fall in love and what it takes to stay there.
It's called "Love Stories," and it features Colleen Madden and James Ridge struggling to make marriage work in one-acts by Dorothy Parker, Bertolt Brecht and George Bernard Shaw.
Madden and Ridge are married in real life, and director Paula Suozzi makes the most of it, adding a framing device involving the lives of two married actors. It's lightly done, while nevertheless underscoring how work, routine and a thousand busy nothings conspire to derail any couple's journey. We begin our journey with two honeymooners in Parker's "Here We Are."
Like actors still learning their lines, "she" and "he" have not yet fully inhabited their newly married characters, making them self-conscious and anxious. The resulting discomfort ensures silly spats and tender reconciliations, reminding us that learning to love includes learning to fight - as well as compromise, forgive and move on.
In Brecht's "The Jewish Wife," the title character moves on by saying goodbye, to an Aryan husband who, like so many in Nazi Germany, lacks the courage to keep his commitments, with decency and to a marriage undone by circumstance and time - heard through a church clock and reflected in the sepia-toned marriage bed that dominates the set.
This is a society in which nothing can be said, making it all the more amazing that Madden's agonized face says so much during her final calls to family and friends. Staring in bemused wonder at the phone, she makes us aware of how easily and quickly even the strongest connections can be broken. In Shaw's "Village Wooing," we watch connections being forged between a prickly, stiff-suited travel writer who can't see what's right in front of him - including the colorfully attired and headstrong villager intent on marrying him (costumes by Holly Payne).
As with the first two pieces, it's the woman who is looking for answers, while the man is afraid of the questions.
You can sense the woman's yearning - in the barely controlled passion of Madden's voice, as well as her searching eyes and flitting hands.
It's a performance that could melt stone, and it transforms Ridge's initially reserved and evasive man, who unfolds his body and his mind to reveal the poet lurking there all along - in him and also in us, when we're privileged to live and watch a love story like this one.
Love, loss and surprising seductions in
Forward Theater’s triple bill
Lindsay Christians, 77 Square
Photo by Zane Williams
When the nervous bride asks her earnest, slightly dopey groom whether he “really likes” her hat, it is tempting to yell at him:
The man, a husband for less than three hours, doesn’t recognize a minefield when he’s stepped in one. An evasive response (“I don’t know anything ... I like that blue hat you had”) sends his new wife into a flurry of guilt and jealousy.
The groom’s face falls. He’s doomed.
The title of “Love Stories,” Forward Theater’s triple bill running in the Playhouse through April 29, could seem a bit misleading. This is no Valentine’s Day special, though it’s not overly cynical, either.
As directed with sensitivity and intelligence by Milwaukee’ s Paula Suozzi, “Love Stories” is an evening of three one-act plays showing a shifting kaleidoscope of love and marriage.
It’s made more effective by a framing technique using visible dressing rooms and snippets from the lives of the show’s two performers. Real-life married couple James Ridge and Colleen Madden are both excellent actors and company members at American Players Theatre.
In “Here We Are,” written by Dorothy Parker in 1931, Madden and Ridge play a quarrelsome couple, both of whom thought their relationship would change (specifically, improve) after they walked down the aisle.
No such luck. Crooning “let’s don’t ever fight” becomes “too bad you didn’t marry somebody that would get the kind of hats you like” and “why didn’t you marry Joe Brooks?”
Madden frets and criticizes as the unnamed wife, and one imagines Ridge’s character as a young Walter Mitty, retreating to a place where he can’t say the wrong thing.
The second play, “The Jewish Wife” by Bertolt Brecht, was published in 1938 as part of “Fear and Misery in the Third Reich.” In it, Madden plays a woman forced to leave her home by growing anti-Semitism that she’s certain will cost her husband his position.
Most telling here are the long pauses. Madden breathes and steels herself for the calls she must make, saying goodbye to friends and asking family to look in on her husband, who does not appear until the end of the scene. The import of each call, and the way that societal hatred has poisoned a private home, becomes clear as Madden straightens her spine even as she fights back wails.
George Bernard Shaw’s one act, “Village Wooing,” makes up the second half of the production, a sweet, funny, characteristically verbal piece that shows the pair of actors at their best.
The first scene is on the deck of a cruise ship. Ridge plays A, a brusque British writer of travel books. Madden is Z, a gregarious village woman determined to draw him out.
Her persistence in the face of his repeated brush-offs begins to feel almost masochistic, as Ridge wrinkles his brow in supreme irritation.
“Work is my only pleasure,” he says pointedly, adding, “It is your privilege as a woman to have the last word. Please take it.”
But Z ignores him — or rather, refuses to let him alone. By the time they meet again in the village shop where she works, A is as good as hers, though it will take him another several months to know it.
Suozzi’s direction lifts Shaw’s back-and-forth banter off the page and turns it into a true love affair, though the single kiss doesn’t come until nearly the last moment of the play. Madden hovers on the deck of the ship like a bee on a flower, but just as Ridge’s character turns toward her, she’s off again.
What each of the plays have in common, aside from two actors and a reluctance to give the characters names, are a series of quiet, powerful revelations.
In “Here We Are,” Madden makes it clear that her character babbles and bickers because she’s petrified of the marital bed, cowed by the commitment she’s just made.
In “Jewish Wife,” the title character can see the changes in her husband, and recognizes that character “doesn’t last forever.”
And in “Village Wooing,” Ridge and Madden disarm one another quite surprisingly — one with aloofness, the other with chatter. Shaw can get wordy, but the pacing is perfect, and the characters feel fallible and very real.
The whole production is thoroughly enjoyable. It’s enough to restore one’s faith in the power of theater, if not in the power of lifelong matrimony.
Colleen Madden and James Ridge are exceptional in Forward Theater Company's Love Stories
Jennifer A. Smith, The Isthmus
Photo by Zane Williams
Marriage is often referred to as a journey. Where you start and where you end up can be two very different places. What begins in hope can fall apart, yet amazing things can transpire from the most uncertain beginnings.
Forward Theater Company offers varied looks at marriage in an evening of three one-act plays, Love Stories, in which travel plays a key role. Colleen Madden and James Ridge, American Players Theatre core company actors who are married in real life, deliver exceptional performances that make these stories well worth listening to.
If the title sounds sappy, the plays themselves are decidedly not. Consider the writers, three of the 20th century's sharpest voices: Dorothy Parker, Bertolt Brecht and George Bernard Shaw.
While there are plenty of laughs, there are also tense, probing moments, particularly in Brecht's The Jewish Wife, in which a woman must leave both her husband and her country. Drawn from Brecht's Fear and Misery of the Third Reich, the play's backdrop is the rising tide of Nazism and the growing danger the wife faces. Political turmoil reveals the fault lines of a marriage in this deftly drawn sketch.
Brecht is bookended by lighter fare: Parker's Here We Are and Shaw's Village Wooing. In the first piece, a just-married couple has their first real argument while on a train to New York for their honeymoon. The wife frets about everything from her hat to the thought of masses of people getting married all the time, everywhere — surely all those marriages can't work out? Madden is adorable and exasperating as the new bride, and Ridge is charming as he reassures her, "This is no way to start a honeymoon, with all this thinking!" Nervousness about consummating the marriage underlies their fidgety conversation, to the point where the bride threatens she must write her thank-you notes that evening.
The final play is a classic odd-couple pairing, exploring what happens when a daffy extrovert and an uptight writer of travel guidebooks meet aboard a pleasure ship at sail on the Red Sea. When they first meet, their outfits (by costume designer Holly Payne) say it all: she looks slightly ridiculous in a sundress and floppy, wide-brimmed hat adorned with a flower, while he's sitting on the ship's deck sporting a three piece suit and pocket watch.
The longest of the three mini-plays, Village Wooing sags a bit in the middle — the push/pull between the characters is drawn out too long — but it's still filled with clever observations and unexpected warmth.