Youth Theatre and Senior Class Reader's Theatre productions are October highlights at the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre
October 6 is the opening night of the Kalamazoo Civic Youth Theatre's All Of Us: A Celebration of BIPOC Voices, directed by Milan Levy and staged in the Parish Theatre. And October 27 in the Carver Studio, Mary Redmon directs Whose Life Is It Anyway?, a Senior Class Reader's Theatre production. Both directors and the Civic's artistic director, Anthony J. Hamilton, join Cara Lieurance in the studio to talk about productions that fulfill the Civic's mission to encourage people of all ages and abilities to participate in community theater.
All of Us: A Celebration of BIPOC Voices is a series of 5 short plays by different playwrights, lasting around an hour. Elements of fantasy and science-fiction will make you think in new ways about the characters' situations, says Levy. A recent Kalamazoo College graduate and a first-time director at the Civic, Levy also serves as the production manager for Face Off Theatre. Treating the school-aged cast of 10 as equals has fostered a creative, positive atmosphere. She says kids who had never met before are forming close friendships through the rehearsal process. Hamilton says that by focusing on BIPOC voices (Black, Indigenous People of Color), the power of representation — seeing oneself onstage — can provide lifechanging moments for theatergoers.
Mary Redmon's lifetime of experience as an actor and director puts her in a position to take on the serious drama she loves. On the strength of her production of Clybourne Park last winter, Hamilton chose her to direct Whose Life Is It Anyway? In the play, a woman sculptor is paralyzed from the neck down in an accident. Her recovery leaves her dependent on 24-hour care for the rest of her life. Her desire is to end life support systems, which will allow her to die. Redmon says the Senior Class Reader's Theatre, which allows participants to perform with script aids if needed, is tackling the play with sensitivity informed by their own life experiences. It is in two acts, and will run around 2 hours.
More details on the productions and ticket availability is at the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre website.