Marion Kleinau Theater kicks off new season

Marion Kleinau Theater kicks off new season

Marion Kleinau Theater kicks off new season
Tara Janowick

The Marion Kleinau Theater will kick off its upcoming season of performances at 8 p.m. on Friday, September 9 with “The Graduate Student Performance Hour.”

This free showcase is designed to provide graduate students in the Communications Department a platform to present work in a variety of genres. Anna Wilcoxen, graduate assistant in the Department of Communication Studies, has worked for several seasons with the Kleinau.

“We have a pretty robust community of grad students who are working within performance studies and this is an opportunity for them to showcase things they’ve been working on in classes, that they may plan to submit to conferences, and gives them the chance to preview shows that are coming for the following season,” she said.

If someone is interested in seeing a small preview of things the Kleinau will feature in this upcoming season, the Graduate Student Performance hour is definitely the show to do that. Wilcoxen said that the Kleinau is a special theatrical space. For Communications Studies, this space allows for personal narrative, for commentary on the sociopolitical, a space to challenge expectations of gender norms and traditional theater norms in a way that allows for exploration, offering a voice and space to do these things. There can be a lot of roadblocks down this path, and the communication studies department is blessed with the outlet of the Kleainau to engage in experimentation for which traditional theater spaces don’t often allow.

Much of the work seen at the Kleinau is based in autoethnography, personal narrative inspiring others to tell their stories. This becomes a network and a constellation of narratives. Many of the shows at the Kleinau go on to be parts of festivals. This small community develops experimental theater in the initial birthing stages, and the all original work often goes on to travel and be seen in other places.

In the upcoming season, the Kleinau will feature 14 performances. Wilcoxen said all of the shows at the Kleinau are of significant importantace. A sense of community is fostered through collaboration; one person’s show is not just one person’s show. Each community member has a personal stake in each performance.

In many theaters, a cast will focus on one show per semester. The shows in the Kleinau have four weeks to prepare, with a very little budget and just the skills they have as a community. Various cast members may work individually or collectively on directing, costumes, sound, lights, poster images, promotion. Many of the pieces are repurposed; cast members often make their own costumes by hand, sharing skills with one another to make each show happen

The first full show of the season, “Vanya on the Plains” runs Sept. 28-30 and is written and directed by Jason Hedrick, also part of the Kleinau staff. This show is comprised of a large cast, including different people from part of the community, featuring two faculty members, professor emeritus Elise Pineau, and Communications Studies Chair Nathan Stuckey.

In March 2018, a visiting guest artist who also used to be a part of the Kleinau, Andrea Baldwin, will present “Lone Star Feminist”. These reunions of former cast members demonstrate the special meaning the Marion Kleinau Theater holds for its performers.

For a full list of shows for the upcoming season at

Admission to “The Graduate Student Performance Hour” is free and this show is open to the public. For more information, call the Kleinau box office at 618-453-5618 .