Raue brings one-man show to county

James Knight in his performance of Yury Klavdiev’s work in “I Am The Machine Gunner.”
James Knight in his performance of Yury Klavdiev’s work in “I Am The Machine Gunner.”

WHAT: “I Am The Machine Gunner”

WHEN: 8 p.m. Oct. 9; 3 p.m. Oct. 10
WHERE: Raue Center for the Arts, 26 N. Williams St., Crystal Lake
COST & INFO: One-man play by James Knight in his performance of Yury Klavdiev’s work, which captures the struggle of a young Russian gang member trying to find the same honor in his own battles that his grandfather found fighting Germany in World War II. For mature audiences only. Tickets: $35 at 815-356-9212 or www.rauecenter.org.

“I Am The Machine Gunner” by playwright Yury Klavdiev will be performed at 8 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at the Raue Center for the Arts in Crystal Lake.

The play is the English translation of a Russian play about a young Russian gang member trying to capture the honor in his own battles that his grandfather displayed while fighting the Nazis World War II.

The Raue is the drama’s second American stop, following Baltimore and preceding San Diego. It culminates 18 months of behind-the-scenes development and research, which resulted in the Raue partnering with University of Maryland, Maryland-based Generous Company, Towson University and the Center for International Theater Development to create a tour.

“It is really one of those incredible opportunities where we have something noteworthy on the academic and artistic side,” Raue Executive Director Richard Kuranda said. “We created an in-house company and began a stage reading series about two years ago. Then the recession hit and we had to pull back a little bit. The board, in a strategic planning session, vowed to try and continue on with it and try to make it work. We looked out and found some production partners that were co-producers the first year.”

Kuranda believes the notoriety that accompanies this one-man show, featuring New York Equity actor James Knight, will heighten interest in the Raue’s Williams Street Reperatory Co. Created last May, Kuranda said the in-house company has about “25 creative voices” involved in writing, acting and directing. It hopes to stage a new comedy by Chicago playwright Tim Clue next spring. “Standing in Mattoon” was co-written by Spike Manton.

First, however, the Raue must cultivate a theater audience. Toward that end, it’s starting small with a short run and limited seating. The audience will sit on stage, in intimate black-box fashion, so seating is limited to only 130 people a performance. General admission is $35.

“Let’s risk, but let’s risk wisely. We want to be good shepherds of our available funding ... It’s a short run because of the cost and the time it takes to develop,” Kuranda said. “But our hope is this will grow into a fully realized production company. Our intent is to have a brilliant in-house company.”

Premiering a powerful, off-Broadway show should help jump-start that effort. Kuranda warned its message is “not for the faint of heart.” But he promised attendees will leave astonished ... perhaps even a little shell-shocked.

“It’s ‘Grand Theft Auto’ meets ‘Saving Private Ryan,’” Kuranda said. “The audience sits in a 130-seat configuration on a raised platform. For us, that’s a change. We even had to build our own grid system for lights to apply our own technology. We’re starting to utilize the space in more creative ways.”

Tickets are available online at www.rauecenter.org or at the box office, located at 26 N. Williams St., Crystal Lake. The box office is open noon to 4 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, as well as one hour prior each performance.

Dramatists to perform CL playwright’s work

Diane Baia, Crystal Lake resident and senior playwright with the Chicago Dramatists for 2010-12, will have two of her original plays performed in slightly more than one week – “Rake” and “The Wisdom of Serpents.”

The Chicago Dramatists, 1105 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago, will perform a staged reading of “Rake” at 2 p.m. Saturday, followed by an audience talk-back with Baia and the director. A $5 donation is suggested.

Inspired by the real-life wartime service of Denis Rake, “Rake” explores the emotional turmoil of an outwardly gay man in the military. The Allies have yet to land for D-Day, but from the very beginning of World War II, the British Special Operations Executive has had agents behind enemy lines carrying out guerilla attacks. They include Rake.

When war breaks out, he is determined to serve his country – even if his country doesn’t particularly want him to. Posing as the female chanteuse L’Hirondelle by night, working as a man with American OSS officer Virginia Hall by day, Rake’s life is dangerous enough as he helps prepare for the coming Allied invasion, but when Max Halder, a gay German officer, falls for him, the stakes soar even higher.

“The Wisdom of Serpents” is about Hildegard von Bingen – a German poet, composer and monastery founder. Given leave by the pope to go out and preach like a man, she is one of the most influential, 12th-Century personalities. But her penchant for plain speaking has created more than a few enemies. When she grants sanctuary to a heretic knight, all that she has achieved is jeopardized by the opposition of both church and state.

Inspired by a true story, “The Wisdom of Serpents” was a finalist for the 2009 Jane Chambers Award – among the top five feminist plays judged that year. It will presented at 3 p.m. Oct. 17 as a con reading by Northwestern University at the Seabury Chapel, 2122 Sheridan Road in Evanston. Admission is free and a reception will follow.

“It’s more about enjoyment of the work rather than the enjoyment of the spectacle,” Baia said of two readings. “It’s all part of the process of bringing the work into it’s full incarnation.”


Flatlander Market, 125 S. State S. in Marengo, is hosting a bevy of local artist on its gallery wall during this weekend’s Settlers Days festival through Oct. 16.

The work of Marengo artists Camille Ayers (graphite etchings of architecture), Dale Woodruff (nature/wildlife acrylics and pastels), Judy Little (acrylic still-lifes and landscapes) and abstract painter Richard Mikyska will be joined by landscape painter Rita Mishler of Union. Mikyska will have an full collection of work on display for the remainder of the month. For information, call 815-568-3528.

• Kurt Begalka can be reached at 815-526-4432 or via e-mail at kbegalka@shawsuburban.com.

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