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Director’s Note: The Little Prince

I can’t actually remember a time when The Little Prince was not a part of my life. I don’t remember the first time I heard it, read it, or when I saw the film with Gene Wilder as Fox and Bob Fosse as Snake. The story has always been a backdrop to my life. It was one of my mother’s favorites. I was certain she knew the answer to the Aviator’s question, that she could speak the language of the stars. When I was 16, I left for Africa on a Rotary Exchange. She told me to always look at the moon. She would always be looking at it too, so in this way, no matter where we were, we would always together.

When Laura invited me to co-direct this production, my mother was very ill and I knew I would be doing this story after her passing, in the sacred place of grief and gratitude. Laura, too, was in an underworld journey with the discovery of her son’s brain tumor. We were both living in the unknown with our best beloveds, and yet we were each able to turn to this masterpiece for solace. Exupèry says, “It is such a strange place, the land of tears.” And he was right. We began really feeling the paradoxes of life and death, love and loss, hope and renewal. We were somehow no longer in the world of either/or, but in the exciting realm of both/and.

In exploring the deeper mysteries of the duality of this story, one has to know how it came to be written. Antoine de St. Exupéry was a pilot at a time when the airplane was a new technology. His iconic writing about flying was considered vital to the development of the aero-technology. Exupéry was no stranger to sorrow. His father died before he was four, and so did his younger brother. Like the pilot in the story, Exupéry actually crashed in the Sahara desert with his navigator, André Prévot, on December 30th, 1935. They both survived, by nothing short of grace—they didn’t have enough food and water to last one person one day in such heat. They had no idea where they crashed, and were rapidly losing any chance of survival. Both men suffered from severe dehydration during this time and began to hallucinate quite viscerally. It was from these desert hallucinations that the story of The Little Prince was born. Some suggest that the boy who visited Exupéry when he was so close to Death, was the ghost of his little brother, who would not leave his side until he was rescued.

Throughout the show, you may notice that we made very specific choices to explore the duality we discovered. To begin, we have two directors on two different, yet similar, journeys with death: one which leads toward loss, and one which leads toward miraculous recovery. All of our principals hold different kinds of dualities: we find with Rose that when we fall in love, we must be willing to accept both the conscious and unconscious forces at work in the psyche of the Beloved, and in ourselves. Exupéry seems to suggest that we carry the wounds of our childhood into our adulting; he reminds us to be gentle with one another. Snake is the Great Goddess, the Womb and Tomb of Natural World. She inspires us to confront the fear of the unknown through acceptance of our constant ability to transform and transcend our limitations. Both roles are played by two actresses to amplify this powerful theme. We also have real people and puppet actors in the show. It was important to heighten the sense of distortion between those who see with the heart and those who see only with the eyes. We have two Little Princes: one, a girl, and one, a boy. Gender, after all, is a construct of the mind and of society, it is an agreement, not a truth. It’s time to really challenge paradigms which are based in power and move toward creating paradigms based in love. In this double-casting choice, the Little Prince is also not fixed to a single vision of “who the character was, or is,” it also suggests the possibility of who the character is going to become after returning home. Ironically, we had three sets of twins involved in the casting of this production: both actors playing the Little Prince are twins, as well as one of our Roses. You might also notice the striking similarities between the Aviator and Fox. I like to think of Fox as the Aviator’s higher self; the ancient one inside all of us, that gives us the exact wisdom we most critically need dark nights of the soul. And finally, the script called for an ensemble so we called upon the ancient and powerful idea of a Greek Chorus: the ensemble play the supporting cast members as well as create sunsets, baobobs, volcanoes, and birds; they are the landscape of the world around this story. Blending the idea of my love for Greek Chorus with Laura’s passion for ballet was so exhilarating to watch come to life.

We are so incredibly honored to share in this creative vision with such a talented dream team of designers as well as our unbelievably talented cast. We are deeply grateful to all of you for sharing this vision with the eyes of your hearts. Thank you to Harmonie, Michael, Liz, Evan, Mike, Mark, Linda, and David. Thanks to my son, Charlie. (I love sharing this story with you!) Thank you, Mary, for stepping in as ASM. Thank you, Kristelle, for lending your artistic expertise. Thank you to Doug for warmly welcoming us and cheering us on. Thank you to John Cramer for being our champion and never losing faith that we could tell this story through our own challenging journeys. Thank you to the WCT administrative team: Rhonda, Katie, Meghan, and Nancy for invaluable mentorship through the entire process. Thank you to Phillip and all the volunteers. Thank you for consulting on the set design, Derek Castor and Dustin Martin. Thank you, Jim Padovano. We so appreciated your welcome and support to us in this space. Thank you to all the parents and families that allowed us the time with your talented children and partners. Thank you to Katie Cummings and Pink Umbrella Theatre for consulting with us on sensory-friendly performances. Thanks to Peter for spear-heading WCT’s first inclusive show. We cannot think of a more beautiful story to launch this new WCT tradition.

Finally, we dedicate this performance to you, the audience, and to all who hold this story dear. Actually, no. We dedicate this show to the children you used to be, who knew the difference between a hat and a boa constrictor eating an elephant. Most importantly, we dedicate this to the little ones inside you who know how important it is to tend to the baobabs of doubt and fear, like Laura’s son, Burgoyne, who despite having a tumor removed from his brain, the size of a grapefruit, miraculously continues to get stronger and stronger every day! While we were in rehearsal, he not only traveled to Korea, he managed to complete his final class for his master’s degree in education! Burgoyne is living proof of the transformative and healing power in the stories we tell ourselves.

As for me, I am learning to see my mother with the eyes of my heart. On a quiet evening, when I look at the moon…I think…I can hear her laughing…

 

 

Dr. Shannon Sloan-Spice

Director

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Cramer’s Corner: Entertainment Falls Into Place At WCT!

The ACAP PlayMakers’ Show Of Shows III is WCT’s next show, running October 6 through 9.  The show features songs and scenes from previous PlayMakers’ shows mixed with some new material.  Click here to buy tickets.

Our new screen and projector is once again helping us bring the silver screen back to the PIX.  Our next movie of the season will be Young Frankenstein on October 10 at 6:30 pm.  The cast of the movie includes Gene Wilder, Madeline Kahn, Terri Garr, Marty Feldman, Peter Boyle, Cloris Leachman, and more.  All tickets are $5.00, and we have concessions available, including soda, water, beer, wine, cookies, beef sticks, and … wait for it … POPCORN!  Click here to buy tickets.

Our next Random Act of Entertainment is David Seebach’s Illusions In The Night, October 14-16.  Spectacular illusions, mystery, eerie music, colorful costumes, and comedy are all woven together in this family-friendly show with one of Milwaukee’s greatest treasures.  Click here to buy tickets.

Our next Pee Wee Players opportunity is Saturday, October 15.  4-5 year olds get together for a few hours to of singing, dancing, and imagination.  Click here for more information or to register.

Our second Mainstage show of the season will be To Kill A Mockingbird October 28 through November 13, including three daytime performances for schools to take advantage of.  We are partnering with Waukesha Reads, as the novel by Harper Lee is the featured book this year. Click here to get your tickets.

Fred Klett will bring his unique brand of comedy to our stage in a one night only benefit performance full of good, clean fun, aptly titled A Night Of Comedy With Fred Klett on Tuesday, November 1 at 7:30 pm.  Click here to buy tickets.

Ex Fabula Story Slam will take our stage as part of Waukesha Reads on Thursday, November 3, at 7:00 pm.  Tickets are FREE for this event.  Click here for more information.

WCT was awarded $500.00 by Staples Foundation as part of 2 Million & Change philanthropic initiative. We will use the funds to support our daytime performances of To Kill A Mockingbird.

Share Your Heart! Heart of Canal Street is Potawatomi Hotel & Casino’s community program that raises funds for children’s charities – and WCT is in the running to be a beneficiary.  Heart of Canal Street has raised nearly $16 million for hundreds of area children’s charities since 1994. The program honors the Potawatomi tradition of nurturing younger generations so they grow to lead healthy, productive lives.  Half of each $3 or $7 Canal Street Bingo game purchased goes to the Heart of Canal Street fund, which totaled more than $1 million last year! Share your heart by playing the Canal Street Bingo game now through Dec. 15. Visit paysbig.com/heart to learn more.

Our current featured artist in the Waukesha State Bank Art Gallery in our lobby is Wendie Thompson.

Our 60th Season is on sale now.  Subscription packages for the Mainstage shows, and individual tickets for everything can be purchased now.  Please join us for another great season of entertainment!

Thank you to all of the generous donors that have supported us so far this season.  If you would like to donate, you can choose from any number of ways you could help us not only maintain, but thrive, as Waukesha’s Cultural Cornerstone.

Please Consider Giving …

* A gift to our Operating Fund

* A gift to our Spotlight On The Future Capital Campaign

* A matching gift through local sponsoring business employers

* A gift that will last a lifetime through your Will or Estate Planning

* A gift by donation to CARS

* A gift by shopping through Amazon Smile

* A gift by purchasing something on our Amazon Wish List

* Choose WCT as your Thrivent Choice charitable organization

* Become a Sponsor of outstanding performances and educational programs

Have a Happy Halloween, and I’ll see you at the Theatre!

Cramer John 2006John Cramer

Managing Artistic Director

jcramer@waukeshacivictheatre.org

262-547-4911 ext. 13 office

PIX Flix Spotlight On The Board: Young Frankenstein

“For what we are about to see next, we must enter quietly into the realm of genius.” – Dr. Frederick Frankenstein

Young Frankenstein is our third PIX Flix in our 60th season! Gene Wilder called this his favorite of all the films he made. Join us as we celebrate his legacy! Get in the Halloween spirit by joining us for this spoof of Mary Shelley’s classic tale on October 10th at 6:30 pm! Tickets are $5 for everyone – you won’t find a better deal than that!

As in all his roles, Gene Wilder lent a certain genius to this film. Playing the grandson of the legendary Dr. Frankenstein, he sets out to explore his grandfather’s castle and writings. While trying to prove that he is not as crazy as people think he is, he discovers the secret to reanimate the dead. What follows is a treat you won’t want to miss!

When Mel Brooks was preparing this film, he found that Ken Strickfaden, who had made the elaborate electrical machinery for the lab sequences in the Universal Frankenstein films, was still alive and in the Los Angeles area. Brooks visited Strickfaden and found that he had saved all the equipment and stored it in his garage. Brooks made a deal to rent the equipment for his film and gave Strickfaden the screen credit he’d deserved, but hadn’t gotten, for the original films. –IMDb

The film has been critically acclaimed. Among other nominations and awards, Young Frankenstein was nominated for two Oscars, a Golden Globe, and a Writers Guild of America Award in 1975. It won a Golden Scroll from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Horror Films, USA in 1976. And as of 2016, it’s been inducted into the OFTA Film Hall Of Fame.

For only $5, join us on October 10th to celebrate the legacy of Gene Wilder, Mel Brooks, the Halloween season, and our 60th anniversary all at once! See you at the PIX!

danner-jonathan-2010Jonathan Danner

WCT Board Secretary