Instead of spending the last several weeks bemoaning the impending occupation of Minneapolis and St. Paul by the Republican National Convention (okay, so I bemoaned a little – just didn’t hyperventilate per usual), I spent them in rehearsals for the perfect antidote: Wellstone!, a play with live music honoring the life of Minnesota’s inspirational Democratic senator who tragically perished in a plane crash. The fruit of this labor opens Tuesday, September 2nd, and runs through September 21 - a theatrical alternative to our little temporary Mordor, and a psyche cleanser for the days thereafter. In all honesty and fairness, I heartily recommend this show – it is indeed a labor of love, in that it has reminded me of the power of the individual to affect change – that hope for a better world is not naïve, it is the seed of ethical progress. It’s fascinating, and saddening, how much Paul and Sheila Wellstone’s words deeply resonate today.
Our wonderful director, Matt Sciple, wrote a beautiful and succinct show description:
This is a labor of love for all involved. Paul Wellstone was a towering figure in the life of Minnesota, and until his tragic death, his integrity, courage, compassion and keen intelligence were transforming the U.S. Senate. As the eyes of our state, the country and the world focus on St. Paul for the gathering of the GOP, let's remember a different kind of politician--not in a partisan way: although this is an election year in which Senator Wellstone's old seat is being hotly contested, this is not a campaign commercial. Senator Wellstone famously won the respect and even friendship of some of the most conservative politicians in Washington, and his agenda went above and beyond party politics. I'm not going to lie to you. It's also not a balanced, scholarly documentary. Like Paul, the play is funny, wildly energetic and brimming with passion. This is a celebration of his life, of his marriage to Sheila Wellstone--herself an eloquent, powerful voice for abused women--and of their incredible bus ride from the classroom to the corridors of power.
Come celebrate their lives with us.
The Actors: Mark Rosenwinkel (playwright) plays Paul, Muriel Bonertz plays Sheila, Edwin Strout and Leigha Horton play everyone else, and Larry Long (composer) is playing his wonderful music live each night.
The Designers: Erica Zaffarano has designed and built a gorgeous set, Paul Epton is working his magic with versatile, evocative lights, Lori Opsal's fantastic costumes transform four actors into more than 25 characters, and Michael Croswell's sound design makes our little stage seem like the world.
For tickets, showtimes, location, and information about the play, please visit www.wellstonetheplay.org