Monday, March 23, 2015

Addition of Rich Dworsky to Garrison Keillor event

We are pleased to announce the addition of pianist and composer Rich Dworsky to An Evening with Garrison Keillor May 6, 2015 at 7:30 PM, as a part of the Sangamon Auditorium Visiting Artist Series.

Garrison Keillor
Rich Dworsky, pianist/music director for A Prairie Home Companion for the last twenty years, is a classically trained pianist and composer who rocks, swings, plays great Blues and Gospel, tears it up on the Hammond B3 organ and keeps up with world class pickers playing his unique “Bluegrass piano” style.  He composes classical, theater and film music and has the amazing ability to improvise compositions on the spot in virtually any style.

Rich Dworsky
Dworsky will share the stage with Keillor and also have musical moments of his own during the event.

Garrison Keillor is a master storyteller and host of Public Radio’s A Prairie Home Companion. He is also the author of many books, including Lake Wobegon Days (1985); The Book of Guys (1993); The Old Man Who Loved Cheese (1996); Wobegon Boy (1997); Me: By Jimmy "Big Boy" Valente As Told to Garrison Keillor (1999); Love Me (2003);Homegrown Democrat (2004); Pontoon (2007); Liberty: A Lake Wobegon Novel (2008); and Life Among the Lutherans (2009). In 2013, Keillor released his first book of poetry called O, What a Luxury: Versus Lyrical, Vulgar, Pathetic & Profound.  In addition to A Prairie Home Companion, Keillor hosts public radio’s The Writer’s Almanac.

Tickets for the event are on sale now! Contact the Ticket Office at 217.206.6160 or log on to

Monday, March 2, 2015

A visit by The Acting Company

The Acting Company's Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
This week, we are pleased to welcome The Acting Company back to Springfield for a series of events.  The centerpieces of the week will be the performances of Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court on Wednesday, March 4 at 7:30 p.m. and the Class Acts performance of Macbeth on Thursday, March 5 at 9:45 a.m.  In addition to the performances, however, the following will also be happening:

Teaching Artist at Springfield Southeast High School week of March 2-5

The Acting Company’s Learning Through Theater residency program is a week-long, intensive exploration of one play. Teaching Artists specially trained by The Acting Company spend up to five days working in a school, teaching a hands-on curriculum related to a play in The Acting Company's repertoire. At the end of the week, students attend the play, and have an opportunity to meet and share ideas with the actors in the company.

This residency program is a cross-curricular drama-based exploration of language, literature, visual art, music, design, and acting. The Teaching Artists use a variety of teaching techniques, modeling new teaching techniques for the classroom teacher and leading the students through experiential learning at its best. In their work with students and teachers, Teaching Artists stress the multidisciplinary and collaborative nature of the theater. Students read, write, improvise, play with language, and explore the play in a variety of ways. Each residency is designed with the classroom teacher to meet the specific curriculum needs of the students.

Teaching artist Leslie Geraci will visit multiple class periods of Southeast High School literature classes Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday, March 2, 3, and 5.  On Thursday, March 4, she and the students from the classes will attend the 9:45 AM performance of Macbeth on Sangamon Auditorium’s Class Acts series.

Workshop for UIS Theatre students

UIS Theatre students will participate in a workshop on stage combat led by Devin Brain of The Acting Company on Wednesday, March 4 at 2 p.m. in the UIS Studio Theatre.

This workshop will serve as an introduction to stage combat. A fully interactive workshop, the goal is to demonstrate how combat can take place on stage while looking realistic and maintaining safety. This workshop will demonstrate the basic principles of hand-to-hand combat, while simultaneously training the participants to tell a story though the fight and to maintain a character while engaging in combat. This workshop can be altered to fit the ability of the participants.

Public workshop by members of the touring company staff

Sangamon Auditorium is pleased to offer a theater workshop from 5:15-6:30 PM Wednesday, March 4 in the Public Affairs Center in conference room G.  The workshop, “Acting Clues in Shakespeare” will be led by Devin Brain, staff repertory director for The Acting Company.  The workshop is open to the public, though advance registration is required.  There is no fee to attend.

The workshop will use interactive textual analysis to give participants many of the tools they need to research and examine a piece of Shakespearean text so that they might better appreciate and understand that text and be prepared to begin rehearsing it. Most of the class will be spent examining several passages from Macbeth, discussing Shakespeare's use of Iambic Pentameter, Irregularities in Verse, Prose, Antithesis and other literary devices as they relate to the actions, intentions, and emotional life of the character.  There is no advance preparation required to attend the workshop.

Devin Brain is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama and a member of The Hypocrites.  Devin has returned to the Acting Company after having served as Artistic Director of both the Yale Cabaret and Yale Summer Cabaret Shakespeare Festival.  Credits include Rose Mark’d (an adaptation of Henry V, Henry VI parts 1-3, and Richard III), The 4th Graders Present an Unnamed Love Suicide and The Phoenix.

The workshop is open to all individuals ages 15 and older with an interest in theatre, especially actors and directors.  There is no fee to attend the workshop, but space is limited and registration is required.  Please register by filling out the online form.  Please contact Carly Shank at or 217.206.8286 if you have questions.

The engagement by The Acting Company is supported by the Arts Midwest Touring Fund, a program of Arts Midwest, which is generously supported by the National Endowment for the Arts with additional contributions from The Illinois Arts Council.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Indian Ink Theatre Company: panel presentation to UIS Theatre students

Yesterday evening, we welcomed Indian Ink Theatre Company into town as they began to load in for their performance of The Elephant Wrestler this evening.  This morning, Assistant Professor of Theatre Dathan Powell brought his Principles of Stagecraft class to the Studio Theatre for a panel discussion with members of Indian Ink about the Art and Business of Theatre.

UIS Theatre students with members of Indian Ink Theatre Company
It is always refreshing to have an opportunity to debrief about the process of touring and presenting arts events.  The "stepping back" to discuss with others always leads to reflection - usually valuable or thoughtful, but also amusing sometimes.

The Elephant Wrestler will be presented in the UIS Studio Theatre, a transformable space where Sangamon Auditorium presents its Kitchen Sink series and also where UIS Theatre produces its theatrical productions.  But it is rare for Sangamon Auditorium to present touring theatre in this space.  Intimate and unique, The Elephant Wrestler seemed like a piece that could fit well in the small space.  I think this evening's event will be an incredibly unique and memorable experience for the audience.  Please consider joining us.

Monday, January 26, 2015

I had the pleasure of seeing The Elephant Wrestler at a conference a year ago and am very much looking forward to having it in the Studio Theatre on February 3.

I always say that I love theatre because of the way it sheds light on the condition of being human; this piece is a funny, moving, surprising example of that. Check out the sneak peak for more and please consider joining us.

Tickets start at just $25. I promise you'll be glad you took a risk on this unique experience.  Buy online or call the Ticket Office at 217.206.6160.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

STOMP returns to Sangamon Auditorium

On Monday, January 26, we're pleased to have the longtime audience favorite STOMP return to Sangamon Auditorium.  STOMP is such a great event for audiences of all ages.  Tickets for students high school age and younger are

STOMP appears at Sangamon Auditorium Monday, January 26 at 7:30 PM

I have a theory that STOMP has thrived for so long because it really is such a great gateway show for audience members who may not necessarily think they are the "type" who attends live events.  The show makes great "wow" moments out of everyday people and things, proving that *nothing* is "everyday."

The show also communicates effectively across language barriers, as no words are used, but instead the performers use objects and movements to communicate ideas.  It is a show for which it is thrilling to be in the audience, having a communal experience with everyone else in the room as you laugh and gasp at the same moments...again, with no words ever being spoken.

Past STOMP audiences should be pleased to know that while the show is mostly the show you remember from the past, some sections of the show have been updated and restructured and two new full-scale routines, utilizing props including tractor tire inner tubes and paint cans.

Come join us!  Tickets are still available (but moving quickly) at our website and at 217.206.6160.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Reflecting back and imagining the future

As each New Year dawns, I take the opportunity to reflect on the past and imagine the future.  Such is my lifelong habit regarding New Years.  But in very recent years, a lot of that reflection hinges upon the arts experiences I have had in the past year and will have in the year to come.  I wrote about this at length last January.  (Go ahead...please read it!) 

I remember that when my mother turned 50, she declared that she wanted to see more live arts events.  Year after year since then, she's made it happen.  She's seen a wider range of events than what she experienced prior to age 50, and I hope that range continues to widen for her.  

As a bona fide list-making geek, I keep track of the live events I see each year.  I get excited about seeing the annual number grow, as it did in 2014 (albeit by just a few, but still!)  But also, I get excited to consider the range of events I experienced.  Music.  Dance. Theatre.  Older styles.  New styles.  Amateurs.  Professionals.  Living legends.  New works.  Classics.  Reinterpretations.  Was I the oldest or youngest member of the audience, or something in between?  How many venues did I set foot in?  How many cities did I travel to in order to experience live performance?  

And then there's the question of what impact those performances had on me.  Some of that impact can't yet be measured.  It will take years to know the full impact.  

I look forward to 2015 and what the year's end list will look like for me.  I hope you look forward to your year-end list as well.  And I hope you'll get out and be a part of the arts by being a part of the audience this year.  

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Give the gift of entertainment!

Meaningful life experience, not stuff, is the greatest gift of all.

Anticipating an experience gives us time to imagine all the fun we're going to have on vacation or to begin savoring the steak from that new restaurant before we even walk through the door.  Anticipation drives the happiness.

As you're gift-buying this month, consider a Sangamon Auditorium gift certificate or choose an event and plan a night out with someone special in 2015.  Tickets and gift certificates are always available by calling 217.206.6160.  Gift certificates are also now available online.  (Gift certificates available in any increment when you call...only in specific increments when you buy online.)

Happy Holidays!