Kane Repertory Theatre, in partnership with the St. Charles Park District, presents a live outdoor production of the Shakespeare classic Romeo and Juliet at the Historic Pavilion on the Fox River. The play, is directed by Northern Illinois University’s Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts and Geneva resident, Paul Kassel. It premieres August 12 at 7 p.m. and runs through August with its last show at 2 p.m. on August 29. Tickets can be purchased here.
In William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, a long feud between the Montague and Capulet families disrupts the city of Verona and causes tragic results. With a 17 person cast, Kane Repertory Theatre brings a contemporary edge to this world classic.
“The story of Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare is one of the most enduring tales in our world,” Kassel said. “It is a story of true love, a story of ancient conflicts between rivals; a story of what damage can be done in the name of family, loyalty, and unthinking passion. And as old as this story is, it is also current, and appears almost every day in the news across the world – it can even find its way into our own schools, neighborhoods, and homes.”
“Kane Rep’s staging of Romeo and Juliet honors an ancient tradition of storytelling, using simple means to express profound truths. Where a stick might become a sword, or a cap a crown, a lone figure a teeming crowd. When you join us for this beautiful play by the river, we invite you to do as Shakespeare said and allow us to ‘on your imaginary forces work.’”
Paul Kassel is a professional actor, director, writer, and theater educator. Paul worked Off Broadway, including a year in Vampire Lesbians of Sodom at the famous Provincetown Playhouse in Greenwich Village, and off-off Broadway, in regional theaters, and appeared in several films and television shows. Before moving to Illinois, Paul directed and performed with Halfmoon Theatre Company in Poughkeepsie, NY, for which he directed Is He Dead, Good People, and Almost, Maine. Other professional direction include God of Carnage (River City Repertory) and What Remains: Long Island Stories of 9/11 for Asylum Theatre Company, of which he was a founding member. A long time university professor, favorite college productions include, As You Like It, The Government Inspector, Lysistrata (which he adapted and co-wrote music) at Bradley University; A Shayna Maidel, A Doll House and The Rover (Stony Brook University), and A Flea in Her Ear, Babes in Arms, Measure for Measure and Macbeth (State University of New York at New Paltz). He continues to act and direct professionally, most recently as the “Stage Manager” in Our Town, produced by the Kane Repertory Theatre Company. Paul received his M.F.A. from Florida State University/Asolo Conservatory for Professional Actor Training. He is a proud member of AEA and SAG/AFTRA. Paul Kassel is Dean for the NIU College of Visual and Performing Arts and a professor in the School of Theatre and Dance.
The cast of “Romeo and Juliet” includes Max Stewart (Romeo), Leiren Jackson (Juliet), Rosalind Hurwitz (Nurse), Al Hermann (Friar Laurence), Avery Fountain (Benvolio), Daniil Krimer (Mercutio), Joseph Metcalfe (Tybalt), Avery Bowne (Paris), Brian Koester (Lord Capulet), Mary Nigohosian (Lady Capulet), Joel Ottenheimer (Prince), Tom Ochocinski (Lord Montague), Anne Wrider (Lady Montague), and Reginald Hemphill, Vincent Juarez, Sophia Arnold, Jill Marlow (Ensemble), with Luke Harmon as the Stage Manager.
Kane Repertory Theatre, in partnership with the St. Charles Park District, presents a live outdoor production of Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare directed by Paul Kassel. Regular run performances are Aug 12-13, 17-19, 25-27 at 7pm and Aug 29 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $30 Adults, (ages 19-59) $25 Seniors (ages 60+) $15 Students (ages 3-18). This play is recommended for all ages. For tickets or more information visit the box office online.
About Kane Repertory Theatre
Kane Repertory Theatre is a professional 501(c)(3) non-profit theater company located in St. Charles, Ill. By using visceral performance to explore values in America, Kane works to spark conversation, evoke empathy, and strengthen the community. Under the leadership of Executive Director Avery Bowne and Artistic Director Daniil Krimer, Kane Repertory Theatre strives to be one of the Midwest’s leading regional theaters through new play development, reimagining classics, and forming an ensemble of dynamic artists, while providing patrons of all ages with first-class theatre education and engaging new audiences through various outreach efforts.
Jill Belluomini, NIU’s 2021 Lincoln Laureate winner, chemistry major and dance minor, was featured in the commencement video for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Here’s Jill’s story:
Also featured were Art and Design’s Angie Redmond and Music’s Izabella Gieron.
The NIU Community School of the Arts is offering online summer camps for kids ages 11-19 (grades 6-12).
Have fun and make lifelong friends while exploring your love of performing and visual arts. Faculty, staff and alumni from the College of Visual and Performing Arts will help you experience life as an artist and meet mentors in the arts.
Theatre Arts Camp Junior (grades 6-9) and Senior (grades 9-12)
Experience theatre warmups, workshops, production rehearsals, a talent show ands a final online performance with NIU Theatre faculty member Kendra Holton and her amazing camp staff.
Visual Arts Camp
Meet talented high school artists and work directly with NIU alumni artists and arts educators to improve foundational design skills, explore new media and methods, learn to prepare a college portfolio and more.
NIU Jazz Camp
Work with NIU jazz faculty Geof Bradfield, Bobby Broom and others to improve understanding of jazz music and history and polish performance and improvisational skills on your instrument.
Register today for Summer in the Arts camps in music, theatre and art online.
When Daniil Krimer graduated with his M.F.A. in acting in 2019, he had no way of knowing the kinds of changes that were on the horizon.
When he founded the Kane Repertory Theatre in St. Charles, Illinois, in 2019 and became its artistic director, he had no idea that the world—and particularly the theater arts world—would grind to a halt in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic soon after. But through creative adaptation, Krimer and his partner, Managing Director Avery Bowne, M.F.A. ’19, have found new and impressive ways to deliver fine theater to audiences during this unprecedented time.
“My job as artistic director is one that is often sporadic and doesn’t have a set schedule,” Krimer said. “It usually involves Avery and I, starting the day with a phone call, talking through everything that has to be done for the day. Some days that includes being on the phone with agents, sometimes that’s reading a bunch of new plays, and sometimes that is putting together marketing and press release materials.”
But in a new virtual world, the work of an artistic director has had to be even more reactive and flexible than ever.
“There is such a long way to go, but I do think Avery and I did something which was deemed impossible by most performing arts organizations—we grew during COVID,” he said. “We were able to innovate ways to grow the size of our network, audience reach, and donors, all during this awful period of COVID-19. I think that is definitely an accomplishment.”
Attracting up-and-coming playwrights and Oscar-nominated stars has been one way Krimer and his company have maintained success during a challenging time.
Running from April 10-May 2, the Kane Repertory Theatre hosted the world premiere online production of Hammaad Chaudry’s “Security.” The cast included Academy Award and three-time Golden Globe nominee Eric Roberts, as Homeland Security agent Brian, playing opposite Harsh J. Gagoomal’s Riaz. When 17-year-old Riaz arrives from Britain to the United States for the first time and is stopped at the airport by a Homeland Security officer named Brian, the experience changes his life forever. Thirteen years later, a grown up Riaz returns to the United States, hunts down Brian at his home, and now interrogates him, returning the favor.
The online production was a blend of film and theatre. Green screens and professional film set-ups will be sent to the cast in their individual locations, and with the work of a top-notch video editor, the final production will look and feel as if both actors are sharing the same space.
Krimer credits NIU with helping him build his acting skills as well as his ability to ignite passion for the arts in others, even in the face of adversity.
“One of my favorite memories from my time at NIU is teaching the THEA 110 Acting Fundamentals for the non-major students,” he said. “I got to teach acting to a lot of non-majors, and it was always so exciting to inspire passion for the art form to someone who registered for the class just to get a general education credit out of the way.”
Krimer went to graduate school because he wanted to be in control of his craft as an actor.
“I wanted my craft to be tangible, offering strong performances with consistency,” he said. “NIU provided me with the classes and learning opportunities to develop that skill. It really was in some ways the perfect place for me to grow. I don’t know that there is another M.F.A. acting program in the country that would have resonated with me the way NIU did.”
Krimer is clear that he chose to attend NIU because of Patricia Skarbinski, the head of the University’s M.F.A. acting program.
“After I interviewed with her and took a workshop with her in New York City back in 2016, I knew NIU was the school for me,” he said. ”Patricia Skarbinski is more than a teacher. She is a guru. I learned so much from her I don’t know where to start. She and a handful of other professors taught me the craft of acting, and I left school being confident that you could give me any play, TV or film script or commercial copy, and I would be bring that text to life. What those professors did for me is no small feat.”
Krimer also said his graduate school allowed him to form deep bonds with his classmates, which proved to be a great beginning for the theater.
“Considering I spent all three years of graduate school with the same 15 people, a majority of the classmates I graduated with are my dear friends,” Krimer said. “Starting a theater company with my classmate, Avery, grew from this foundation. The reason we are compatible professionally is because our time in graduate school together has instilled a deep understanding of one another’s artistic, entrepreneurial and societal sensibilities.”
So, after such surprise success, what is Krimer’s advice to other actors who may be discouraged in their careers by this difficult moment in history?
“Do not put yourself in a box. Do not live your life thinking there is a ceiling for your future,” he said. “So many people create boundaries for themselves without letting themselves actually take risks. Challenge yourself to apply for that scholarship or fellowship that you think you might not be worthy of. Challenge yourself to reach out to one of your industry idols and try to set up a meeting. We only have one shot at this thing called life, and every opportunity you don’t take a chance on is an opportunity wasted.”
Just two days remain to give to our Crowdfund campaign to support our senior artists.
As a last minute incentive, Paul Kassel, Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts will match the next $750 in new donations!
Visit our crowdfund page to make your donation.
For the past 28 years, Paula Frasz has been designing dances that mirror her students, their experiences and the world we all live in.
“All artists reflect wherever they are,” she said. “I don’t just see our students in the classroom. This is my community. This is their community and their surroundings.”
As the makeup of the students in the dance program has become more diverse, Frasz has challenged herself to create works that reflect her students and their world.
For all of her efforts over nearly three decades, Frasz has been named a 2021 Presidential Engagement and Partnerships Professor.
In 2018, students from the NIU Dance program earned an invitation to the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. to perform, “ENUF” a dance choregraphed by Frasz. The dance had been judged to be the best performance at the Central Conference of the American College Dance Association (ACDA).
“In the summer of 2016 I was sitting in my car waiting for the endless train to pass by in downtown DeKalb,” Frasz said. “The news was all about another young black man shot by police, and the Colin Kapernick kneeling situation during the national anthem. One of the train cars that went by had a graffiti tag on it that said ENUF in capital letters.
“I sat there and thought to myself, ‘Yes, I agree. ENUF already.’ I decided at that moment, because we have a wonderful group of minority dancers, that my next piece of choreography would be a dance addressing the history of oppression, suppression and violence against minority groups. I am an old hippie and protest is in my blood. It was time to speak out and my forum is movement.
“The dance, “ENUF,” was born.”
For Frasz, ENUF’s recognition and selection for the Kennedy Center performance was especially meaningful.
“I made it my mission to attract and train minority students as professional dancers, and to include dances in our concerts that were specifically choreographed for Black, Hispanic and other minority casts. To see seven Black, three Hispanic and one white dancer perform it with such heart, helped me realize the meaningful message of that dance.”
One of those who performed “ENUF” at the Kennedy Center was Amber Echols, a 2018 graduate of the dance program.
“I didn’t meet Paula until I transferred to NIU in the fall of 2016, but I had already heard of her and how amazing she is,” Echols said. “When she sees something in a dancer she pushes them to become better than they can ever imagine. I have studied so many types of dance styles, but once I was under her wing, I started to learn so much about the history of different minority dances. She took the time to learn for herself so she could help us understand it.”
In 2019, Frasz wrote the dance, “Your Excellency” inspired by black Union soldier James Henry Gooding’s letter to President Abraham Lincoln. Gooding had been born a slave in 1838 but as a child his freedom was purchased, perhaps by his father, and he was sent to school in New York City. In 1863, he enlisted in the Union Army and wrote letters that were published in his local paper. But it was a letter he wrote to President Lincoln that is most famous. Gooding wrote to Lincoln about the disparity of pay in the army, with Black soldiers earning three dollars less per pay period than white soldiers did. “We have done a Soldiers Duty,” Gooding wrote, “Why can’t we have a Soldiers pay?”
Frasz wrote “Your Excellency” with a specific cast in mind.
“We had these three fantastic male dancers and a wonderful actor,” she said. “I wanted to give them something, I wanted to give them a voice. I wanted to present it in a way where these four talented Black men could express anger and frustration, not in a rage. The way the letter was written, because it was the 1860s, the language is very proper, very respectful to President Lincoln. I could use that to make the movement contrast and really dynamic to show the anger and frustration.”
“Your Excellency” was performed at the American College Dance Festival at Western Michigan University at the beginning of March 2020, one of the last live dance performances before the COVID-19 pandemic.
The dance was first performed in November 2019 in conjunction with the NIU Art Museum exhibition, Exploring Aspects of War In and Through the Visual Arts.
Our BIPOC dancers are extremely talented and my work is enhanced by their skill,” Frasz said. “As our dance program attracts more highly skilled BIPOC dancers, my research also has become more focused. What better opportunity to give voice to an underserved population than to place their issues and concerns on stage? My personal growth has been profound, as the students generously share their cultural experiences and viewpoints, which helps me develop choreographic material to best suit them.”
This post originally appeared in the April 15, 2021 edition of NIU Today.