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Good-natured and popular Republican Senator Charlie Whitmore is up for re-election in North Carolina. Just three days before voting, he lets slip to a blogger his new and not-so-popular thoughts on God and the second amendment. As his bible-thumping wife, Sara, works to retain religion in their marriage, Alex, his New York Jewish liberal staffer, fights to keep the campaign from spinning out of control. Hailed as "A powerful... highly contemporary piece" (Huffington Post), this new comedy looks at America's political system today. Directed by Michael Kissin.
Meet the Artists
Kim Kivens (Sara), a nice Jewish girl born in New Jersey and raised in St. Louis Park, is happy to be making her MJTC debut! Stag credits include Children’s Theatre Company (Dr. Suess’: The Sneetches Musical; Cinderella), Daleko Arts (Urinetown), Theater Latte Da (C.; Oliver; Company; The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee), Hennepin Theatre Trust (The Realish Housewives; The Doyle & Debbie Show), Casting Spells Productions (Disenchanted), The Catalysts (Shelly Bachberg 1 & 2), Park Square Theatre (Johnny Baseball), and Mu Performing Arts (Yellowface). In 2011, Lavender Magazine honored Kim as Best Supporting Actress (Musical) as Muriel in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels with Minneapolis Musical Theatre. Kim is a voice-over and on-camera actor, but her favorite roles are mom to Lily and wife to Joe.
Matthew Rein (Senator Charlie Whitmore) is excited to be returning to MJTC for Church & State. Previously at MJTC, he was seen as Jamie in The Last Five Years, David in My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding (twice!), a few different people (and a puppet) in Compulsion or The House Behind, and multiple roles in The Triangle Factory Fire Project. Other Twin Cities credits include Children’s Theater Company (Romeo in Romeo and Juliet, History Theater (Joe B. Mauldin in Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story and Mike Continelli in River Road Boogie, and Theater Latte Da (All Is Calm) and Gremlin Theatre (Orson’s Shadow). He was previously partnered with Ms. Kivens as David in Company (Theater Latte Da) and Marcus in Yellow Face (Theatre Mu).
Miriam Schwartz (Alex Klein) is a Seattle native and graduate of the University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theater B.F.A. Actor Training Program. She is thrilled to be working again with MJTC where she was last seen in the one-woman piece DAI. as well asDaphna in Bad Jews,Dr. Ruth in Becoming Dr. Ruth, Jessica in Jericho, and Ayelet in Handle With Care (also written by Jason Odell Williams!) Other theater credits include Walking Shadow Theatre Company (Gabriel), 7th House Theater(Cinephillia), Workhaus Collective (Homegrown, The Hollow), Guthrie Theater (Born Yesterday), and Theatre Forever (The Brutes), as well as roles including Sonya in Uncle Vanya, Jenny in In Game or Real, and multiple roles in Clandestino.
Josh Zwick (Tom/Marshall/Security Guy) was born and raised in San Francisco and is a recent graduate of the University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theater BFA Actor Training Program. Josh was last seen as Peter in Peter and the Starcatcher at The Theater at Monmouth in Maine. Other credits include She Loves Me and Arsenic and Old Lace (Creede Repertory Theatre), Under the Gaslight (Minnesota Centennial Showboat), and The Winter’s Tale and Love’s Labour’s Lost (Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival). Some of Josh’s favorite roles include Moritz Stiefel in Spring Awakening, Doug in Gruesome Playground Injuries, and Lebedev in Ivanov. Josh is incredibly excited to be making his debut with Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company.
Michael Kissin (Director) is an actor, director, musician, and college educator. A company member at Mixed Blood Theatre for over 20 years, Michael has also served as Artistic Director at Minnesota Festival Theater in Albert Lea, and Artistic Director of Bemidji’s Paul Bunyan Playhouse. At MJTC, he directed Talley’s Folly, Goats, My Mother's Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding, and Stars of David, and starred in The Twenty-Seventh Man and the one-man show Boychik. His broad range of onstage roles includes the Fiddler in A Christmas Carol for 13 seasons at the Guthrie Theater.
Paul Epton (Lighting Design) discovered theater lighting at Carleton College. He then spent 11 years as an award-winning lighting designer and master electrician for Detroit’s Attic Theatre. Since returning to Minnesota in 1992, he’s designed over 60 shows for MJTC (The Whipping Man, Stars of David, Photograph 51, My Name is Asher Lev, The Triangle Factory Fire Project, Rose, Old Wicked Songs, and The Chosen). Paul also designs regularly for Mixed Blood Theatre (The Sun Serpent, In the Time of the Butterflies, Ruined), Commonweal Theatre in Lanesboro, MN, Off-Leash Area, Torch Theater, and Day Trippers and has twice been part of the design team for Ivey Award productions. When not designing, he can often be found climbing around the lighting grids at the Children’s Theatre Company and the Guthrie Theater. Paul is also a year round bicycle commuter; one of his first professional designs was for Spokesong. Upcoming designs include The Nutcracker’s Nuts for Day Trippers anda new verse translation of Moliere’s The Imaginary Invalid next spring for Combustible Company.
Reid Rejsa (Sound Designer) returns to MJTC for Church & State. Previously, Reid has designed for Guthrie Theater's A Christmas Carol, The Cocktail Hour, Freud’s Last Session, Clybourne Park, The Sunshine Boys, Hay Fever, Charley’s Aunt, Much Ado About Nothing, The 39 Steps, Dollhouse, A Delicate Balance, The Government Inspector, Private Lives, The Home Place, Boats on a River, Edgardo Mine, Boston Marriage, The Chairs, Lysistrata; Tours (sound supervisor): Othello, A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Sound Associate. Reid has also designed for Ordway Center; Jungle Theater; Arizona Theatre Company; Minneapolis Planetarium; Frank Theatre; Theater Mu; Mixed Blood; Penumbra Theatre; Eye of the Storm; and Children’s Theatre. FILM/TELEVISION: Sound design and mixing for TV spots and short films for Minneapolis Planetarium, Sleepy Eye, Yng Turk Film, KARE-11, ShopNBC, others. OTHER: Recording engineer.
Jonathan Gross (Projections Design) previously designed projections for MJTC productions of Becoming Dr. Ruth, The History of Invulnerability, Photograph 51, and My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding, and an independent production of They Called Her Captain. He has been a technical assistant to lighting and set designers for several productions at MJTC including The Chanukah Guest, Moonlight and Magnolias, My Name is Asher Lev, Our Class, The Whipping Man, The Tale of the Allergist's Wife, and Aunt Raini . Jon is a visual artist and photographer.
Joy Donley (Stage Manager) is happy to be working with MJTC for the first time! She is a freelance theater director, producer, teacher and publicist (and oh, stage manages on the side, too). Joy is the publicist for Bucket Brigade’s production of Sam’s Son, and she recently co-produced The Looney Lutherans with the Maplewood Area Historical Society. She has worked for Open Window Theatre where she directed Shadowlands, The Lilies of the Field and An O. Henry Christmas and stage managed Freud’s Last Session. She also taught their youth drama classes. Joy directed Bucket Brigade’s ‘Til Death: A Marriage Musical and also co-produced Kingdom Undone at the Southern Theater. She has an M.A. in Theatre Education from the University of St. Thomas, and is adjunct faculty for Bethel University. She is married to Triple Espresso creator, Michael Pearce Donley, and together they own Front Porch Theatre, putting up shows for the Minnesota Fringe Festival (Nibblers: A Musical with Sharks, Seussical) and sometimes in their own backyard! For “free time,” Joy creates quilts for her Etsy store, Treadle the Boards.
Jason Odell Williams (Playwright) is an Emmy-nominated writer and producer as well as an award-winning playwright and novelist. Hailed as a “postmodern Clifford Odets” by the L.A. Times and “this country’s newest Eugene O’Neill” by the Santa Monica Daily Press, his play Church & State was nominated for Best New Play by the Off-Broadway Alliance and L.A. Ovation Awards and was selected to be an NNPN Rolling World Premiere with productions in Los Angeles and Rochester before running for over 100 performances Off-Broadway at New World Stages. Jason’s first play, Handle With Care, was a New York Times Critics’ Pick, ran for over 100 performances Off-Broadway starring Carol Lawrence, has been produced over twenty times since 2011 in the U.S. and Canada, and won three Theatre Bay Area Awards including Outstanding Production. Other plays: Baltimore in Black & White (The Cell Theatre), Someone Else (NC Stage), The Science of Guilt (DR2), Going Offline (Fells Point Corner Theatre), The Jungle Gym (American Globe Theatre). Readings: Primary Stages, The Blank, The Lark, EST, as well as developmental readings starring Norbert Leo Butz, Matthew Lillard, and Tovah Feldshuh. Jason was a winner of the 2012 Hudson Valley Writers' Center contest and the winner of the 2011 Fixitsolife Theatre playwriting contest. He lives in New York City with wife and daughter.
"The topics of this play - religion, guns and politics - seem heavy. But a heavy drama about heavy topics doesn’t interest me. What interests me is a play that gets to the heart of the people around these issues. And when you write about people, you can’t help but let them be funny and sad and honest, heartbreaking and uplifting all at the same time. Because isn’t that what being human is? I hope this play raises questions, sparks debate, makes people laugh and cry, and laugh while crying. And of course I hope it moves people in some way. Perhaps enough to take action with their voice and vote and bump the needle ever so slightly in the conversation about gun violence. But most of all, I hope this play speaks to your heart. Because, for me, that’s the only reason to write anything: to speak to each other’s hearts."
-Jason Odell Williams, Playwright