Tales from the Writer’s Room, Season 9, It’s a Zoo!
Article by Ric Holmquest
The SPT Theatre group is so energized, talented, opinionated, insightful and thought provoking that you can’t see the bottom. The ensemble’s theatrical and musical performances bring new meaning to the term for their combined residency, eastern Iowa’s Creative Corridor. In its ninth season, Tales from the Writer’s Room reminds us “It’s a Zoo!” Each original episode takes an unlikely theme, a pool of clever sketch writers, and some of the hottest musicians in the corridor to weave together an original two hour fun fest.
“Don’t Be An Ass” Friday, February 10 and Saturday, February 11. Will this show offer social gaffes? A biology lesson? Political commentary? Or all of the above? Only the SPT Writers know for sure. Your mama may not say it out loud, but that’s what she’s thinking. Featured guests include Alisabeth Von Presley, Joe Link and Jason Alberty with guest writer Joe Link.
Joe Link informs, “when SPT asked me to join them as a guest writer and performer for the Writer’s Room I was thrilled, and when they added the challenge of writing a few sketches that could incorporate puppets, I knew this was going to be funny. I became a puppet maker because I love to make imaginary things come to life. The more imaginative or ridiculous the concept, the more joy I take in designing and creating the item it becomes. The Writer’s Room has always made hilarious and outrageous characters come to life, so it was a perfect match.”
Link shares, “the chance to perform at CSPS is the icing on the cake. Over the years I have seen so many things at CSPS, from singer song writers, to international music acts, to quirky art installations. The venue has a strong positive vibe for producing and sharing new work, it is a joy to play around within its walls.”
“Fish Out Of Water” March 31 and April 1. Feeling like you don’t belong? You’re in perfect company. SPT’s special blend of original comedy and music will put you back in the swim! Featured guests include Akwi Nji and Chris Okiishi, with guest writer Akwi Nji.
Akwi Nji, who was recently awarded a 2016 Iowa Arts Council Fellowship explains the process with, “it’s terrifying. It’s also a ridiculous amount of fun. It’s unbelievable how quickly we go from having nothing memorized or blocked to putting on a full-length show. The process is so organic. I love that about it. We’re tweaking lines, eliminating or adding characters, changing the endings of sketches all up until the last minute. We usually even tweak things, very subtly, between the Friday and Saturday performances. That freedom to tweak until you hit the sweet spot is exhilarating.”
Chris Okiishi began performing at age three and is deeply involved with the City Circle Acting Company at the Coralville Center for the Performing Arts. The child psychiatrist by profession is an actor, director and producer who has appeared at the New York Film Institute and the Odyssey Theatre in Los Angeles. Okiishi advises ”what makes Writer’s Room unique is the fact that it is self-generated. All the scripts are created for that particular show and tailored on the actors performing them. The entire show is cast, staged, rehearsed and performed over the course of one week, blindingly fast for theater, which lends to its anarchic, anything can happen feel.”
“Fly On The Wall” June 2 and 3 An evening of original sketches and lively music for the bystander, eavesdropper and voyeur in all of us. Featured guests include Alex Schulte, Emma Drtina and Jason Alberty with guest writer Emma Drtina. Writer David Ringo Martino enlightens about his perspective from the Writer’s Room with “I get to come up with absurd, ridiculous, embarrassing characters and situations, and have other people act them out” adding “works for me.”
Legion Arts will present the three remaining installments of the Writer’s Room Season 9 “It’s A Zoo” over the next five months at the historic CSPS Hall 1103 3rd St. S.E. in Cedar Rapids. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door or at www.legionarts.org Show time is 8pm.