Old Guy has heard some complaints lately. Namely, that there's a lack of entertainment options in this area. Well, I want to make sure you've heard about two fun opportunities you can participate in to support the local arts in our local area.
The first is happening tonight and tomorrow night at the Wisconsin Rapids Community Theater. That's where you'll be able to see local actors Steve Martin and Karly Tellekson in their award-winning performance of "Cradle and All," a play by playwright Daniel Goldfarb.
Directed by long-time WRCT director/actor Susan Edgren (who is also currently directing the upcoming "Harvey" for WRCT), this 2011 romantic comedy with dramatic elements was unearthed by Steve on his recent visit to New York, after he stopped in at a local script store. (Who knew there were such places?)
Steve's visit to the store was occasioned by a discussion he and Karly had had during their mutual performances in "California Suite" on the WRCT stage. Both were seeking an opportunity to test their acting chops in a competitive environment. Steve thought "Cradle and All" would be the perfect vehicle for the acting pair.
The wisdom of that choice was proven earlier this year, when they performed one act of the play as part of the Wisconsin state competition of the American Association of Community Theaters - and won first place!
Now the real work begins, for the next step is a competitive performance against entries from four other states, including Illinois, Ohio, Indiana and Michigan. This regional competition will take place April 18 to 21 in Hartford. A single winner of this competition will go on to the national competition against 11 other regions from around the country.
And this is where you come in, faithful readers. In order for our talented competitors to remain competitive, they need a bit more practice and support from interested theater-goers in our area to cover the costs of taking their show on the road to Hartford. Those costs include a U-Haul trailer for set transport, hotel expenses, meals, gas and registration fees for Steve, Karly and Susan, plus stage tech Jenny Martin, sound tech Stephanie Hoerth and WRCT Executive Director Ellen Roeseler.
Thus, Steve and Karly will perform "Cradle and All" tonight and tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. for your entertainment at the Wisconsin Rapids Community Theater for only $10 a ticket. (Imagine! A true 3-D experience for less than a 3-D movie ticket!) Now that's entertainment.
"We'd love to fill the house and have people come out and support their community theater," Steve told me. "We'd really like to make Wisconsin Rapids proud in the upcoming competition."
Steve assured me that the audience will see everything involved in this competition - from set-up, to performance, to take down -all within a specified time frame. Just remember: Due to some adult language, this play is inappropriate for children.
Yes, you've never seen anything quite like this in our central Wisconsin area.
But, I did mention at the outset of this column that there is another opportunity for local participation. That would be at a new fiction-writing group Old Guy is organizing at the Central Wisconsin Cultural Center, 240 Johnson St., in downtown Wisconsin Rapids. The group, which I've dubbed "Hemingway's Shorts," will meet the first Wednesday of every month at the Cultural Center, beginning at 7 p.m. April 3.
And you're invited.
I've named the group after my favorite short-story writer, as well as the format within which we'll be writing - the short story. If our group name brings a smile to your face, that was purely intentional.
The group membership is open to anyone who has a desire to improve their short-fiction writing through practice and assessment. Each month, Old Guy will present a "starter" paragraph to the group, as well as a maximum word count. Members of the group will then spend the next 30 days honing their individual short-story skills at home by incorporating the starter paragraph or its elements within a story of their own, while not exceeding the maximum word count.
The challenge each month will be for all participants to complete their own short story, which they'll then read to the group at the next monthly meeting. Group members will provide opinions and recommendations to their fellow writers in a friendly and fun exchange of ideas.
After all the stories for that month have been read, we'll take a secret group vote on which story made the most imaginative use of the starter paragraph for that month. The winner's story and byline will be published in the Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune during the subsequent month. No prize money is involved. You'd be doing this just for the fun and challenge of writing a story worthy of publication, and seeing your name in print.
The cost for participants is $5 a month, payable only when attending.
Now, Old Guy can't put this writing idea into action alone. That's why I sought out the help of the Cultural Center. Executive Director Sylvia Becker liked my idea. In fact, in her own column in this very paper, she wrote, "We'd be delighted to have the literary programming of the Cultural Center embraced in such an innovative format. This is a concept that has never been tried locally, as far as I know. I know Steve will bring a lot of his writing experience to this group."
You know I will, Sylvia!
Anyone care to look into "Hemingway's Shorts?"
Then I'll see you on April 3.
Old Guy's weight last column: 223 pounds. This week: 221 pounds. Total loss since Feb. 19, 2012: 10 pounds. (And away it goes!)