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Fox Valley Rep, Fermilab gear up for ‘Collider 2012’

Published: Thursday, June 21, 2012 5:30 a.m. CST

ST. CHARLES – Fox Valley Repertory has selected four playwrights for the Fox Valley Repertory’s second annual Collider Project, taking place during the St. Charles Summer Theater Festival in July.

Each of these playwrights from around the country is getting ready to start projects that tie to Fox Valley Rep’s goal of “developing new works that help us better understand the universe and who we are while illuminating and celebrating the worlds of art, science and technology.”

The four playwrights and their respective plays are Gloria Bond Clunie of Chicago with “Quark,” co-playwrights Kevin Kautzman of Texas and Charles Midwinter of Minnesota with “Life Electric”, and Monica Byrne of North Carolina with “The Fate of the Universe.”

“We’re thrilled with the amount of playwrights that showed interest in this new play project, having over quadrupled the amount of submissions we received this year,” said John Gawlik, artistic director for Fox Valley Repertory. “Together with the internationally renowned Fermilab, ‘Collider 2012’ will offer a unique experience for these deserving playwrights to work one-on-one to gain insight from Fermilab scientists and pen a world premiere.”

‘Quark’

Gloria Bond Clunie’s “Quark” em-

braces love, death, and the stars when Dr. Alexandra Seabold, an astrophysicist, and her husband Terry, a kindergarten teacher, wrestle with personal tragedy, commercial space travel, and feeding our starving planet as they struggle with – is “a taste of space” worth it? A highly introspective and very visual play, “Quark” uplifts as it tackles the challenging themes of death and dying, social responsibility, education and scientific literacy, and love and loss.

“As fewer students enter our universities equipped to tackle the rigors of college level science courses, our country is becoming painfully aware that in a technologically complex, global society, scientific decisions critically affect all of our lives – whether or not we are equipped to make them,” said Clunie of her developing work.

Clunie is a founding member of the Playwriting Ensemble at Chicago’s Regional Tony Award winning Victory Gardens Theater where her plays “North Star,” “Living Green” and “Shoes” premiered. She has been recognized by the Children’s Theater Foundation of America, the American Alliance for Theatre and Education and honored with a Chicago Jeff, a Scott McPherson, New York’s New Professional Theater Award, Chicago Black Theatre Alliance Awards, among others. Currently, as part of Northwestern University’s American Music Theatre Project, she is adapting her award winning drama “North Star” into a musical.

The staged reading and talkback for “Quark” is scheduled for 1 p.m. July 7.

‘Life Electric’

Co-playwrights Kevin Kautzman and Charles Midwinter’s “Life Electric” is inspired by James Delbourgo’s “A Most Amazing Scene of Wonders.” The play will take place in the world of the 1740s and 50s and tackle issues around electricity, performance and enlightenment at the root of the American character. The play will explore the diminishment of spectacle and wonder around scientific innovation as electricity (or the”electric fire”) moves from the hands of a second-class showman and into the hands of Benjamin Franklin, a man who helped shape America as much as any other in the 18th century.

Kautzman is a North Dakota native pursuing his Master of Fine Arts degree with a focus in playwriting and screenwriting as a Michener Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin. He has received commissions from Red Eye and History Theatre, and his work has been performed, read or developed around the globe. He is an alumnus of the University of Minnesota, where he studied history and philosophy, and is a member of the Dramatists Guild, the Playwrights’ Center, and Scriptworks.

Midwinter is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in the history of science at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. He has given talks at the American Physical Society, the American Institute of Physics, and the History of Science Society. His work has been supported by grants from the American Institute of Physics, the University of Minnesota, and a fellowship from the Max Planck Institute for History of Science in Berlin, Germany. Charles’ short fiction has appeared in Asimov’s Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy. He holds a bachelor of science degree in physics and an master’s of education in science education, both from the University of Minnesota.

The staged reading and talkback for “Life Electric” is scheduled for 1 p.m. July 14.

See COLLIDER, page 26

• COLLIDER

Continued from page 21

‘The Fate of the Universe’

Monica Byrne’s “The Fate of the Universe” follows six members of the Caltech astrophysics department as they settle into their annual “The Fate of the Universe” fall retreat at a redwood forest lodge.There, the strongest evidence yet for how the universe will end is presented: in a slow dissipation – the “Big Freeze” – rather than a reunion, or a “Big Crunch.” Over bag lunches, the characters discuss this finding. Their reactions range from logical to emotional, and they begin to question how this finding reflects on the nature of existence itself. On the last day, the group takes a hike in the woods, during which they all become separated and lost, leaving them nothing but time to ponder.

“Can intimacy be preserved in such a universe? Should we try?” said Byrne. “After each character reacts emotionally and logically to the idea of the ‘Big Freeze,’ it’s not until they are left in alone in the woods – as death, as liberation, as a trap, as cold scientific fact.”

Byrne is a scientist-turned-writer whose plays has been read, developed and produced at several theaters. She is a graduate of the Dirty South Improv Training Program, and in 2011 she was a finalist for an EST/Sloan Commission for her play “Nightwork.” She was awarded the Mary Elvira Stevens Fellowship for travel to Ethiopia, India, and the South Pacific for research on her first novel, completed in November. She has also received grants from the Vermont Studio Center, La Muse Artist Retreat, and the Durham Arts Council. She holds degrees in biochemistry from Wellesley College and MIT, and is a member of the Dramatists Guild.

The staged reading and talkback for “The Fate of the Universe” is scheduled for 1 p.m. July 21.

About ‘Collider 2012’

“Collider: New Play Project” partners area scientists and Fox Valley Repertory into both playwright and scientists’ curiosity and desire for knowledge and human understanding. This collaboration will allow both artist and scientist to share their personal outlook and creativity while ushering in a new play. The final script will be work-shopped with professional directors and actors during the St. Charles Summer Theater Festival from July 7-21.

For this project, $3,999 is needed to support the playwrights, actors and directors for their time, research and talents. The campaign launched June 15 on the national Indiegogo fundraising site to give people the opportunity to support this project.

“We only have five weeks to reach this goal. We are grateful for the donors that instantly stepped up to the plate to support our efforts in bringing new works to our community,” said development manager Scott Piner, in the release. “We are 10 percent of the way there, but need 90 percent more in order to keep this project going. Most of this money will go towards compensating these playwrights, who are putting countless hours, energy, and research into making this project a truly remarkable experience for the Fox Valley area.”

Interested supporters can visit the online campaign directly at www.indiegogo.com/collider2012 or www.foxvalleyrep.org. Donation rewards include a signed script, a Collider “brainstorming” pad of paper and pen, the opportunity to meet the Collider team after a reading over appetizers and further conversations.

For more information on Fox Valley Repertory, the St. Charles Summer Theater Festival or the Collider New Play Project, visit www.summertheaterfest.org or www.foxvalleyrep.org.

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