Our blog got a makeover!

Hello Arts Center friends,

We decided to give our blog a bit of a makeover! Unfortunately, we forgot to film a makeover montage but we’re still pretty happy with how it turned out. Our hope is that it’s easier for you to read, find info, and join us in the conversation. What do you think?

One reason we like the new look so much is it makes it easier for us to post awesome videos and pictures.  Check out this video of Paige & the Reverent Few covering Etta James below (They’re one of the bands that will be performing at this season’s Thank You Party). Enjoy and thank you for supporting the Arts Center!

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Behind the Play: ECC Theatre’s “Machinal” and the amazing Sophie Treadwell

ECC Theatre will present Sophie Treadwell’s Machinal November 2 through 18. Written by journalist and playwright Sophie Treadwell (1885-1970), the play was inspired by the infamous 1927 murder trial against Ruth Snyder (the same sensational ‘20s trial that inspired the classic Double Indemnity) in which housewife Ruth Snyder was convicted of colluding with her lover to murder her husband.

While attending that trial sparked Treadwell’s writing process and heavily informs the plot of the play (a young woman’s journey from marriage to murder), Treadwell’s own experiences as a woman trying to navigate society in the 1920’s influence Machinal just as much.

Which leads us to our next point: you should come see Machinal because Sophie Treadwell was a truly fascinating woman and you don’t want to miss your chance to experience her work. Here’s just a snapshot Sophie Treadwell’s bold and adventurous life:

  • In 1908, Sophie launched her career in journalism. Some of the stories she covered throughout her career include:
    • An expose on homeless women (She went undercover and wrote an 18-part serial on the experience).
    • WWI—They wouldn’t allow her near the front because she was a woman so Sophie volunteered as a nurse and wrote about the war’s effect on women. (How’s that for gumption?!)
    • Pancho Villa. Treadwell secured an exclusive interview with Mexican Revolutionary Pancho Villa in 1921. (What a scoop!)
  • Sophie was married to sports journalist and humorist William McGeehan for 23 years (until his death in 1933 from heart disease). A feminist who marched for women’s suffrage, Treadwell kept her name and even maintained her own separate residence after marriage. The 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote wasn’t passed until 1920 when Sophie was in her 30s.
  • Sophie had 3 plays produced on Broadway, including Machinal in 1928. It was a critical hit and a young Clark Gable was in its cast. The play continues to be performed 84 years after its first performance. In the past 25 years, Machinal has been produced by the National Theatre of London, New York’s The Public Theatre, Chicago’s The Hypocrites, many universities and colleges, and now by ECC Theatre. Don’t miss your chance to see the work of this pioneering playwright!

Machinal will be playing in the SecondSpace Theatre at the ECC Arts Center from November 2 through November 18. Visit elgin.edu/arts for tickets and information or call the ECC Arts Center box office at 847-622-0300.

Want to learn more about Sophie Treadwell? Visit the “Sophie Treadwell Collection” on the University of Arizona’s library website.

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5 Reasons you HAVE to see LEO (and a very surprising promise from our director)

We are so excited to be presenting LEO, a new, mind-boggling (in a very good way) physical theatre show this October.

Here are five reasons you absolutely HAVE to see this show:

5. It needed a passport to get to Elgin. LEO was created by Berlin-based production company Circle of Eleven and stars German acrobat/actor Tobias Wegner who also created the original idea for the show PLUS it’s directed by Montreal director/actor Daniel Briere.

4.  It’s an international hit. LEO won the Best of Edinburgh Festival Fringe (the first ever Fringe Festival located in Edinburgh, Scotland) award in 2011, sold out at the Spoleto Festival in South Carolina, and received raves from Time Out New York, Broadway Baby, and The Village Voice.

3.   It’s ONLY playing in Elgin. LEO is making it’s Chicago-area premiere right here in Elgin on October 26-27. The show leaves for Canada and then moves onto Australia right after our performances.

2. ECC Arts Center Director of Performing Arts, Steve Duchrow, saw this show in New York last January and immediately knew he had to bring to Elgin. He’s so sure of this show that Steve has said, and we quote: “If you don’t love this show; I’ll give you your money back.” He’s never made an offer like that before so we’re pretty sure you’ll love it.

1. This video. It does a much better job of describing the magic and joy of the show than we ever could. Click to enjoy! We hope to see you at LEO October 26-27.

LEO plays the Elgin Community College Arts Center Blizzard Theatre October 26 and October 27 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available by calling the ECC Arts Center box office at 847-622-0300 or by visiting elgin.edu/arts.

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The Streetlamp guys recorded a special message just for us!

The guys from Under the Streetlamp were kind enough to record a special message just for us! Check out their video below. Thanks, guys. We can’t wait for October 18!

Under the Streetlamp will be at the Elgin Community College Arts Center on Thursday, October 18. For more information visit elgin.edu/arts or call the ECC Arts Center box office at 847-622-0300.

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Want a chance to learn from a master musician? Here it is!

Not only will Victor Wooten be here to perform with his new band on October 13 but he’s also added a workshop for earlier that day! Victor’s been making music pretty much his entire life (according to his official bio he started at 2!) and has become increasingly devoted to music education over the past decade. He hosts an annual music camp each summer, released the acclaimed book  The Music Lesson: A Spiritual Search for Growth through Music in 2008, and has become an in-demand clinician, teacher and lecturer (he’s visited Berklee School of Music, Harvard, and Stanford University).

So what will the workshop at ECC be like? This is an interactive workshop. Though it’s not a jam session, feel free to bring instruments because you never know–you might be invited to play. The workshop will also include an opportunity to mingle and chat with Victor and some of his bandmates. Also note that, while Victor’s a bass player (and an awesome one at that), this workshop is perfect for ALL musicians not geared just towards the bass.  The workshop costs $20 and  is at 2 p.m. on Saturday, October 13 (same day as the Victor Wooten Band concert). Workshop tickets can be purchased by calling the ECC Arts Center box office at 847-622-0300 or by visiting tickets.elgin.edu.

Can’t wait?  Neither can we! In the mean time, we’re getting ready by checking out Victor’s TED video about “music as a language.”

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Announcing all of the YUMMY dinner menus for our 2012-2013 season!

We’ve just announced our 2012-2013 season of events and the new SUPER PATRON (our new way of doing season tickets. Missed it? Check it out here.

So what’s left to announce? The season of FOOD! That’s right; we’re ready to share the menus for our 2012-2013 pre-show dinners so that you can join us in drooling over them.

You can find all of the delicious menus listed on our Pre-show Menus page. You can also VOTE on your favorite/most-drool-inducing dessert of the season below! In order to keep things fair, we’ve excluded “Strawberry Fields”  (White Chocolate Strawberry Cheesecake) which will be served at the Beatles-inspired Just Imagine dinner. We didn’t want the cool concept to skew the results.

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An Inside Look at ECC Theatre’s Circle Mirror Transformation

Circle Mirror TransformationRobert Hines III, ECC  Theatre Adjunct Faculty and the director of this spring’s Circle Mirror Transformation, shares some of his thoughts on this exciting contemporary play about an community center acting class. Circle Mirror Transformation by Annie Baker premiered Off-Broadway in 2009 and won the 2010 Obie Award for Best New American Play. ECC Theatre’s production of the play runs through May 6. Check out the director’s thoughts below! Thanks, Robert!

Circle Mirror Transformation by Annie Baker is a voyeuristic look into a small acting class from the fictional town of Shirley, Vermont where we meet an unlikely cast of characters as they explore the glamorous world of acting.

From the beginning, we are drawn into the world of the play by a myriad of silly acting games that are familiar to anyone who has ever taking an acting class. Part of the play’s charm is that it is entertaining and hilarious to watch as the students figure out the acting games being played. This whimsical charm could make it easy for one to dismiss this play as a light satirical look at the profession of theater. But this play is so much more.  Circle Mirror Transformation is a unique look at the fragile dynamics of relationships.

Annie Baker’s ingenious understanding of the subtleties of human interaction lays bare the hopes, fears, dreams, and haunting memories of each of the characters. As the play progresses, we begin to see glimpses into the characters’ private thoughts and the intricacies of their lives. The characters slowly peel back the layers of their past hurts and failures to reveal themselves to each other as they struggle to learn the acting games. This gradual reveal of the characters is where the play transforms into a wonderful exploration of humanity and we witness unexpected moments of intimacy and connection.

(Pause) What did you say?

(Silence)  What did you really mean?

Through the use of a tightly scripted dialogue and the strategic use of pauses and silences, Annie Baker has captured something very powerful in the “real-life” games we play as we navigate through our personal relationships. The scenes and dialogue shift between a fast-paced staccato to a slow almost meditative state of being. This ebb and flow of rhythm and pace strikes a familiar balance between what we say and what we feel—leaving it up to the audience to fill the emotional space between the words and silences. Annie Baker spoke of this interplay of words and silence in her Author’s Notes to the cast, ”Without its silences, this play is a satire, and with its silences it is, hopefully a strange little naturalistic mediation on theater and life and death and the passing of time.”

-Robert Hines III, Director

ECC Theatre’s Circle Mirror Transformation continues its run April 27-May 6. For tickets and more information, visit elgin.edu/arts or call 847-622-0300.

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