MJTC announces the professional theater premiere of Aunt Raini

Contact:      Morgan Holmes
                   Communications Manager
                   [email protected]

September 9, 2016

MJTC announces the professional theater premiere of:

Aunt Raini
by Tom Smith
Directed by Kurt Schweickhardt

St. Paul, MN -- Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company (MJTC) is pleased to announce the professional theater premiere of Tom Smith’s Aunt Raini, directed by Kurt Schweickhardt. This production runs from October 29 – November 20, 2016 at the Highland Park Community Center Theater, 1978 Ford Parkway, St. Paul, MN 55116.  Individual tickets go on sale October 4th and range $20-34. Student and group discounts are also available. To order, visit mnjewishtheatre.org or call (651) 647-4315. Press passes are available for performances on Saturday, October 29th at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, October 30th at 1:00 p.m. & 7:00 p.m.

Inspired by the life of German film director Leni Riefenstahl, Aunt Raini is an incisive look at the tensions between art and politics, family legacy and personal identity. During a visit from her great-aunt Raini (Maggie Bearmon Pistner), successful gallery owner Katharine (Heidi Fellner) struggles to keep her family’s past buried. The threat of exposure intensifies when she introduces Raini to her Jewish boyfriend Joel (Michael Torsch), a struggling photographer exploring Judaism in his work. When Katharine inherits her great-aunt’s original film reels that document Adolf Hitler and the rise of the Nazi Party, Joel and Raini's companion Horst (Dan Hopman) force her to confront the truth: whether Raini’s art is inextricably tied to its subject matter or can be judged for its artistic merit alone.


Maggie Bearmon Pistner (Aunt Raini) returns to MJTC after previously appearing in The Tale of the Allergist's Wife, Jericho and The History of Invulnerability. Other theater credits include Jungle Theater, Park Square Theatre, Artistry, Red Eye Theater and Walking Shadow Theatre Company. In 2013, she debuted her one-woman, sold-out Fringe show They Called Her Captain. It was remounted at the Sabes Jewish Community Center in March 2016. Maggie is a voice-over and commercial talent.

Heidi Fellner (Katherine) appears at MJTC for the first time. She received her B.A. from Northern State University in South Dakota. She has appeared locally at Park Square Theatre, Frank Theatre, Old Log Theater and Actor's Theater of Minnesota, among others. Regional theater credits include Paul Bunyan Playhouse and Black Hills Playhouse. Heidi is a film, television and commercial talent.

Dan Hopman (Horst) has previously appeared at MJTC in A Report on the Banality of Love.
He most recently appeared in Scapegoat at Pillsbury House Theatre and Clybourne Park at Yellow Tree Theatre. Other local credits include Park Square Theatre, Pillsbury House Theatre, Mixed Blood Theatre, Theater Latte Da, Red Eye Theater, Yellow Tree Theatre, Balance Theatre Project, Theatre L’ Homme Dieu, History Theatre, and The Playwrights’ Center.

Michael Torsch (Joel) returns to MJTC after appearing in The Twenty-Seventh ManJericho and New Jerusalem. He is a co-founder of Sheep Theater, which so far in 2016 has produced George at Bedlam Lowertown and The Most Dangerous Game at the MN Fringe Festival. He has also worked with Cromulent Shakespeare Company and Workhouse Collective, and directed the Hennepin County Library's 2016 Northern Spark submission, Night Library.

Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company (MJTC) is a non-profit organization in its 22nd season. Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company ignites the hearts and minds of people of all cultural backgrounds by producing theater of the highest artistic standards. Rooted in Jewish content, our work explores differences, illuminates commonalities, and fosters greater understanding among all people. For further information about MJTC and its 22nd season, visit mnjewishtheatre.org, email [email protected], or call (651) 647-4315.

This activity is made possible through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

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