The Ensemble of Theatre B is proud to announce programming for our 13th Season, which includes our first commissions, our first devised pieces, two world premieres, community collaborations, and the second year of the WinterArts Festival.
Making her Theatre B debut directing Christopher Durang’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Darcy Bakkegard is no stranger to the theatre. A graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead’s theatre program, she is currently in her first year as the Director of Theatre/English Teacher at West Fargo High School, where she directed The Government Inspector this fall and helped choreograph Beauty & the Beast in conjunction with Sheyenne High School. This after two years spent teaching theatre in Istanbul. We sat down with Darcy to find out more about, well, Darcy.
Theatre B (TB): When did you discover your love of theatre?
Darcy Bakkegard (DB): I realized it during my junior/senior summer in high school. I got to be a part of the Straw Hat Players, and it was exhausting. Like, 80 hour weeks. But I got home and realized I didn’t want to do anything else, I wanted to do it again right away.
I wanted to go to DePaul (in Chicago) for college. I didn’t tell my parents, and I went and bought a plane ticket to Chicago and got a hotel room so I could audition at DePaul. It’s the naughtiest thing I did in high school, and all in the name of theatre. Continue reading
It was always our intention to establish a theatre in a storefront or warehouse. Our founders had all worked in such venues in other cities and had seen how these ventures added vitality to the neighborhood. When Theatre B was established, it was clear that the community was ready for that kind of revitalization. Over the past 12 years (10 of which have been in our current building at 716 Main) we’ve helped develop cultural and economic activity in a neighborhood once full of empty buildings. We’ve helped downtown become a vibrant center to a growing town, and that renaissance is ongoing.
However, as property values rise dramatically, we are being priced out of the market. With our rent increasing 125% in the past two years, it’s uncertain how long our little theatre at 716 will remain viable.
In order to help us explore the questions of whether, where, and when to move, Theatre B is bringing in Artspace Projects from Minneapolis. Artspace is America’s leader in artist-led community transformation.
Artspace will visit this spring to conduct stakeholder meetings and undertake preliminary site analysis. Depending on what we learn, we may bring them back to conduct an operational analysis and feasibility study.
Our Ensemble and Board are also hard at work articulating our vision for the future and what we need to make it happen. That work is ongoing, but we know that it is a future where artists and storytellers are central in creating a sense of place.
This is an uncertain moment, but it is full of incredible possibility. If you would like to participate in stakeholder meetings and help us explore the possibility of a new home, please let us know by emailing us at email@example.com. Meetings will be held May 11 and May 12.
Today the Bush Foundation named Theatre B as a member of the Community Creativity Cohort. This honor carries with it the opportunity to be in community with 15 other extraordinary organizations from across the region as well as a $100,000 unrestricted, one-time grant award. Our Ensemble and Board wants to send out a big thank you to the Bush Foundation for the honor!
Our Executive Director, Carrie Wintersteen, offers some perspective on this opportunity:
A Note from Carrie
You will either step forward into growth, or you will step backward into safety. – Abraham Maslow
“In its 13 years, Theatre B has had fairly steady, incremental growth. There have been a few spurts, but for the most part, we plant what seeds we can and harvest in equal measure. As a nonprofit, there is never much to store up for a rainy day, but fortunately we are not going hungry.
“ArtsLab gave us our biggest growth spurt, with financial support and, more importantly, training and guidance to help us thrive. In one season both our budget and our audience participation doubled, and we hired our first staff member. Giving Hearts Day was our first big fundraising activity. When we began participating three years ago, we had hopes of buying new seats, paying artists, and hiring more staff. Then our building was sold and our rent doubled. We made modified investments in artists and staff, but our patrons still must endure the coziness of our 1970’s-era seating. Continue reading
Thanks to The Forum’s John Lamb for a great article about Linda Boyd, appearing in 33 Variations.
A little ‘Variation': FMSO director Boyd steps into spotlight with dramatic debut
In her day job as the executive director of the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra, Linda Boyd does the bulk of her work behind the scenes, occasionally taking the stage at concerts for announcements or to bring flowers out for the featured guest artist.
It’s Boyd who will be front and center Friday night when “33 Variations” opens at Theatre B. Playing Katherine Brandt, a driven musicologist studying Ludwig van Beethoven’s obsession with a waltz, Boyd steps into the spotlight for the first time in a dramatic role.
“This has been the most incredible experience,” Boyd says.
It’s an experience that goes back about four years, when Theatre B’s Carrie Wintersteen first showed her a script for the Moisés Kaufman play to see if there would be interest in the symphony and theater working together on a production.
They were each so excited about the prospect that a whole Winter Arts Festival was formed to give people something to get out and see and hear in February. Beethoven Fest, which kicked off Saturday with an all-Beethoven concert from the FMSO, continues this week with a family concert called “Meet Mr. Beethoven” on Thursday night and the regional premiere of “33 Variations” on Friday.
From the moment Boyd read the script, she told herself, “I have to play this part.”
Hi there, this is Scott Horvik, and I have a request for you. I’m hoping you can help us tell the Theatre B story. Is there a specific Theatre B production or event that spoke to you? I’m excited to read your stories and put your words with our photos to give people a better understanding of Theatre B. The quote on the attached photo came from Megan Orcholski, who shared her thoughts about how our fall production of Wit affected her. She was kind enough to let us share her story:
Would you please share your story with us? We’ve set up a simple form to make it as easy as possible.
Thanks for your time. See you at B!
From the Desk of Carrie Wintersteen, Executive Director:
Everywhere I go I run into people I know. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say I meet people who think they know me because they sit in the audience and see me on stage at Theatre B. I enjoy these brief encounters, but rarely do I get a chance to have a real conversation and get to know these patrons.
So I am inviting people to come to coffee once a week, beginning in January. I will start by blowing my New Year’s Resolution workout at Nichole’s on Wednesday, January 7th at 10:30am. The next week I’ll have an afternoon pick-me-up at Babb’s on Thursday, January 15th at 3:30pm.
Please feel free to stop by and join me. I look forward to visiting with you. And don’t be surprised if a Theatre B Board member calls you to invite you personally. The Board is on deck to make sure I don’t sit alone in coffee shops too much.
Hope to see you at the coffee shop!
It’s been another incredible year at Theatre B. Our Ensemble is proud to make this their artistic home and we are so grateful for this community that has nurtured us.
We spent January putting together our production of Gruesome Playground Injuries, a play that our dear friend Matthew Burkholder had championed before he passed away. From our blog: “Asked why Gruesome is a part of Theatre B’s 11th season, director Pam Strait had this to say: ‘Gruesome, well, it’s in the season because Matthew loved it. This show is in our season because it was in his heart.'”
We also started the process of hiring artistic staff for the BEAT program and our summer collaboration with North Dakota Governor’s School.
The preparations for Giving Hearts Day went into full swing.. Ensemble Member Tucker Lucas made some incredible videos about the impact our little theatre has, including this one on some powerful productions:
February brought the production of Gruesome Playground Injuries, a two-hander with Christina Johnson and Taylor Schatz.
We participated in Giving Hearts Day, collaborating with the Fargo-Moorhead Community Theatre and the Fargo-Moorhead Opera, raising over $15,000 to fuel our mission. Carrie was very happy!
We cast our production of Clybourne Park, a wickedly funny and fiercely provocative play about race, real estate, and the volatile values of each is inspired by Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun.
We announced our 12th Season, including Wit, Storefront Church, 33 Variations, and Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.
Work started in earnest on Clybourne Park, including building the largest set we’ve ever had at Theatre B. It also had the second biggest cast of any Theatre B Mainstage show, so it was a huge undertaking.
April and May featured the run of Clybourne Park, the “spiritual sequel” to the acclaimed 1959 Lorraine Hansberry play A Raisin in the Sun, in which a black family struggles with a move into a predominantly white neighborhood in Chicago. The events in the first act of Clybourne Park run parallel to A Raisin in the Sun and the second act takes place in 2009, where the neighborhood has transformed into a black neighborhood while a white family is poised to move into the neighborhood, mirroring the first act.
Theatre B was an invited artistic organization for North Dakota State University’s Symposium ‘Playing on Common Ground’.
And, yes, there was a live band. Concordia professor Colin Holter reconfigured traditional wedding music and made sure everyone was part of the band.
We also participated in the first Unified Audition with Tin Roof and FMCT.
We took the show on the road!
There were performances of Big Love in Lisbon, Bismarck, Wishek, Minot, Williston, and Fargo with over 500 people sitting in a circle outside and witnessing. Thankfully the weather held for each and every performance. The parents of the students also fed us well at every stop.
We had our Annual Season Preview party at the Impact Foundation / DMF building.
We received a Bush Foundation / Consensus Council Community Innovation Grant for our collaboration with the Embrace Cancer Survivorship Program around Wit, which we put together in August and early September.
Our season opened with Wit, with performances at Theatre B, and at Sanford’s Downtown hospital for staff, medical residents, and nursing students.
Ensemble Member and Executive Director Carrie Wintersteen turned in an acclaimed perfomance as Vivian Bearing, Ph.D.
We also received an incredible national honor with a National Theatre Company Grant from the American Theatre Wing, the host organization of the Tony Awards.
Rehearsals for Storefront Church went into full swing.
Wit went to the UND School of Medicine for performances for 1st year students and the public.
The Arts Partnership’s Community Supported Art came to Theatre B for a reading of Ray Rea’s play in development The Sweet New.
Storefront Church opened after Thanksgiving. A powerful story with a fantastic mulit-cultural cast came to life for 5 weeks.
The second Unified Audition took place, filling up the casts for 33 Variations and Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.
We received an Art Works Award from the National Endowment for the Arts to support the Incubator Series for new work premiere of The Art of Bad Men, by Vincent Delaney. Based on interviews with former German prisoners of war, the play is a true story about prisoner of war camps in Northern Minnesota during World War II.
Rehearsals for 33 Variations began and are in full swing.
Thanks for joining us, and here’s to another crazy creative year at Theatre B!
“Well, I started being involved with theatre in 2007 when the E.D. of FMCT asked me to sit on their board of directors. From there I tried stage managing and some other technical things. Then all of a sudden I was in the New Years Review, singing and dancing. So that was kinda interesting.”
Since then, Rick Mangahas has been in several productions around town, including shows at FMCT and the Harwood Prairie Playhouse. He is making his Theatre B debut this holiday season as Donaldo, the borough president stuck in the moral quandaries that are at the heart of Storefront Church.
“Donaldo, he’s at this fork in the road. He’s in this dilemma about what is right. Should I stick with my ideals? Should I make a decision that might be good for my community but outside my moral standards? What should I do? For me, it’s a great challenge to try to live out that crisis every night.”
Not only is it a complex role, it’s also the largest he’s played. “The amount of dialogue and being onstage is pretty intense. The memorization thing, that’s been a good challenge for me.”
“It’s just been great. I love working with all the actors involved and this process. I love that experience of going from first read all the way through closing night. And I’ve learned a lot from the cast, and Patrick, the director, to help make me a better actor.”
And yet, this year we will not present on Thanksgiving. “Why?” you may ask.
It wasn’t an easy decision. It has become a tradition, and it’s always dangerous to mess with traditions. However, there are two very good reasons.
First, it’s become a question of values. We have a set of value statements, and one of them is stewardship of all resources, especially the artists who come to create at Theatre B. Asking those artists to take time away from their families and friends to put on a show is already a lot to ask; adding in performances on holidays is an extra burden. More and more businesses are opening on Thanksgiving, sending a very clear statement on what our culture values. We decided it was time to make the opposite statement. We value the time we spend at home, with family and friends, not working, not shopping. That is something we value, and it was time to live into that value in the work we produce.
The other reason is that we have been working with more and more professionals who are members of the union, Actor’s Equity. Actor’s Equity ensures that its members have two days off per year: Thanksgiving and either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. So we thought it wise to make the change before it became a problem for the professionals we would like to engage.
We hope you will understand and take the opportunity to develop your own traditions at Thanksgiving with your family and friends. We’ll see you at the theatre the next day!