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The word “livelihood” comes from a combination of two Old English words that translate to “life” + “course.” My lifecourse centers around theatre and the use of creative imagination.
When I look back over my lifecourse, it comes together as a narrative about the examination of story, of people, of our lives here together through the medium of theatre. A lifecourse must have purpose, the reason for continuation forward, the verb behind the noun of life. The purpose that moves my life forward is to give back.
I see stories as the main way that we orient ourselves in our timeline; stories are a tool through which we understand where, why and how we are. Theatre provides an opportunity to step into other timelines, to see from other perspectives, and to safely examine consequence and difficult narratives.
…it was clear from early in my childhood that theatre somehow spoke to me in a way that made it more than an entertainment, more than something that I could visit on occasion.
Theatre was something I have been fortunate to have access to my entire life. My mother and her mother were both avid theatre, opera, ballet and symphony attendees. It was their intention to cultivate and appreciation for the arts, not necessarily that I’d go into it as my vocation, my life’s work. However, it was clear from early in my childhood that theatre somehow spoke to me in a way that made it more than an entertainment, more than something that I could visit on occasion.
Since I started acting when I was five, which makes it almost four decades of theatre being the center of my world. It is a rare thing, I feel, to be able to do what you love as your way of providing your daily bread. Now in Omaha, I am finding a new community of theatrical artists to create, collaborate, make glorious fictional worlds with. It is my hope that I can give back to this incredibly artistic city, using theatre as a tool for not only artistic growth and achievements, but also community development, social and personal growth, and as a catalyst for dynamic conversations and engagement with arts in all forms.
Hilary Adams joined the Omaha Community Playhouse as its Artistic Director this June, where she’s directed The Drowsy Chaperone, Hands on a Hardbody, and is about to direct Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Prior to joining the Playhouse family, Hilary was based in NYC where she worked for 18 years as an award-winning professional director. Highlights include a Drama Desk nomination for Outstanding Director of a Play, a Drama League Fellowship and receiving five Manhattan Theatre Club Directing Fellowships. On Broadway, Hilary assisted Richard Jones (Titanic), David Henry Hwang (Flower Drum Song) and assistant directed for Robert Falls (Aida) and Mark Brokaw (Reckless). She has a Master’s in Applied Theatre from CUNY, School of Professional Studies. Member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC) and League of Professional Theatre Women. www.hilaryadams.com
A Christmas Story: The Musical Based on the motion picture, A Christmas Story now playing at The Rose through December 28, 2014.
I remember seeing my grandmother and mother laughing so hard that tears spilled from their eyes. We were witnessing a production of an obscure satire called The Hot Mikado. I was seven years old and that is the only lingering image from my first experience attending professional theatre. Years after my grandmother’s passing, that joyous mental picture is still one of my most cherished- seeing the people I love happy spending time together. Giving others that same opportunity is my livelihood.
Linking that particular experience and my chosen vocation took years. Like many people in the theatre field, I acted onstage. I also wrote plays. I also directed plays. Eventually, I studied theater management at the graduate level in the belief that shepherding institutions to stability produced a certain guarantee of permanence to the endeavor of making live performing art. The increasing tally of opera, symphony, and theater closures in recent years all but shatters the illusion of permanence in this field. The very nature of our work is ephemeral, and that is what makes it so special.
At The Rose Theater, we acknowledge the impermanence of an art experience while aiming to make it stand outside the boundaries of time.
At The Rose Theater, we acknowledge the impermanence of an art experience while aiming to make it stand outside the boundaries of time. We make art for children and their families, so like childhood itself, we believe a permanent and positive mark can be made on the world by holding steadfast to the belief that love is the only reality that matters- far more than commerce, politics, or even death itself. That image of my grandmother and mother has the power to guide me at any moment in my adult life- at the grocery store, in traffic, and even at work. It represents a choice to be gentle, silly, and powerful. Art of all kinds has the potential to help us achieve such a reality. For me, a desire to make art for families arose out of a serious search for something real, something that heals, something that makes us laugh. All I did to find that was return home to what made me, not the theatre, but the people.
Matthew Gutschick’s recent directing credits at The Rose include last season’s Robin Hood and Ramona Quimby. Other directing credits include The Sparrow, Twelfth Night, and Anon(ymous) at the Interlochen Center for the Arts, Wuthering Heights at the Mint Theatre in New York, and Whacked Fairy Tales at Twin City Stage. His plays have been workshopped/produced by Wordsmyth Theatre Company, Horse Trade Theater Group (NYC), Reverie Productions (NYC), Tri Sate Actors’ Theatre, and Magic Chicago. Matthew’s work for MagicMouth Theatre won a New Horizons Playwriting Award and the company premiered a new magic-theatre piece, A Christmas Carol In Prose with Parallel 45 in Traverse City, MI. He is the former artistic director of the Children’s Theatre of Winston-Salem and completed a fellowship with the Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis under the mentorship of Peter Brosius. Matthew assisted Peter Brosius on productions of 500 Hats of Bartholemew Cubbins and A Christmas Story. He is a former Managing Director of the Yale Cabaret where he produced over 14 world premieres. Matthew is also the recipient of a Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation Fellowship in Entrepreneurship, a member of the Lincoln Center Directors Lab, and a graduate of the School at Steppenwolf. He holds a BA in Theater from Wake Forest University and received an MFA in Theater Management from the Yale School of Drama. He is in his third season as artistic director of the The Rose.
For more information about The Rose and current productions: http://www.rosetheater.org/
I sometimes have trouble throwing things away. I still have this ratty (but exceedingly comfortable) t-shirt that I picked up in high school. The lettering on the front reads, “If you love me, tell me a story.” I like the simplicity of it. It sounds like the truth.
While I identify professionally as a playwright, I have tumbled through a few art forms on my way here. I was deeply serious about music (but not so deeply talented). Music is a beautiful foundation for any rigorous discipline. There are no shortcuts. It requires daily commitment and offers opportunities to be part of something greater than oneself. Music teaches listening. It is excellent training for writing.
I studied creative nonfiction in undergraduate school, which was excellent training for arts administration. I studied that at an art school– while learning about voice. In visual art, it is easy to see the individual. Even when the still life is the same for everyone, the interpretation and line is unique to each artist.
It is a story and a present; it is an expression of love.
Working in arts administration has taught me to appreciate the entire collective. Making arts accessible to everyone is a group project. I am proud to live in a state that supports the arts and am exceedingly grateful for the Nebraska Arts Council and Nebraska Cultural Endowment. The cultural landscape of a state requires a chorus of unique voices working together.
I love that theatre makes use of all these skills. I can have music, language, and art together. I can keep everything and get a little bit extra. There is a generosity in our theatre community that continues to astound me. When we make a new play, directors, actors, designers and writers collaborate. Ultimately, the play is a series of gifts, much like our cultural endowment. The playwright gives the play to a director, the director gives it to the actors and designers, everyone works together to give the play to an audience. It is a story and a present; it is an expression of love. For me, it is an art form that wears well.
Ellen Struve is an Omaha-based, Omaha-raised playwright. Her TAG and OEA award-winning play, Recommended Reading for Girls, was part of Omaha Community Playhouse’s 2012-13 season. She is a Great Plains Theatre Conference StageWrite and Mainstage playwright. She is a WhyArts? Resident Artist and Literary Manager at Shelterbelt Theatre. Her plays have been produced in five states. She is a Nebraska Arts Council Individual Artist Fellow. She has degrees from University of Iowa and School of the Art Institute of Chicago. This fall she will be working with Great Plains Theatre Conference and Omaha Community Playhouse to develop a new work.
To read more about Ellen’s projects:
I have no theater background. I have no writing background. What I do enjoy is telling stories. As a lawyer, I do this professionally. The practice of law often boils down to effective storytelling with—if you are lucky—a little law to support the happy ending you hope to convey.
Around fifteen years ago I tried my hand at a script. A local theater was encouraging writers to submit short one act plays for an annual Halloween production. So I took a stab at it, so to speak. The theater liked it, so I wrote another script, and then another. And then a full length script. And so on.
Writing a stage play is like a puzzle—it is a challenge unique to writing. Movie scripts and prose give writers broad latitude to craft a story in any way they choose. The story can be told with as many characters, as many settings, and as many points of view as the writer wants. But a stage play allows for only so many sets, only so many actors, and a limited range of special effects. This forces a playwright to distill a story to the bare necessities. The possibilities are limitless, as long as you can figure out a way to adapt the story to the parameters of a live, staged production.
I love the experience of tech week, watching something that I have written translate into a live performance, with actors putting their stamp on characters and designers creating a visual effect that I could not have imagined. I love sitting in the audience during a performance, hearing them react to the actors and the actors, in turn, feeding off the audience. And I take pride in knowing that I created the story they are all experiencing together. In “Sunday in the Park With George,” George Seurat sings about artistic creation: “Look I made a hat…Where there never was a hat.” I love creating those hats.
Joe Basque is a lawyer by trade and a playwright by choice. His first one act was nominated for Outstanding Script and Outstanding One Act Play by the Theatre Arts Guild in 2002. Since then he has written over twenty other one act plays that have been produced across Omaha. His first full length play, “Ping Pong Diplomacy,” was voted Outstanding Script and nominated for Outstanding Drama by the Theatre Arts Guild, and lead to an Equity production in New York and a Nebraska Arts Council Fellowship. His most recent play, “The Battle of Battles,” played to excellent reviews in Omaha this spring.