Theater 7 brings 1949 play back to life at Indiana Theatre

By David Hughes | Tribune-Star June 3, 2017

Theater 7’s version of “Death of a Salesman” debuted Friday night and it will continue with four more performances, including tonight, at the Indiana Theatre.

Arthur Feinsod, a professor of theater at Indiana State University, is directing the 2-hour, 40-minute play. Among the 16 actors in the cast are Brad Venable (Willy Loman), Susan Monts-Bologna (Linda Loman) and Arnick Shouse (Charley the next-door neighbor).

THE DIRECTOR’S NOTE

The first full-length play I ever directed was Arthur Miller’s All My Sons, which I directed as a Harvard undergraduate in the early 1970’s. So now, almost half a century later, it feels like a homecoming for me to direct Death of a Salesman. I chose to do it for a number of reasons. First of all, I have taught it for years and have always loved it. Second, I find in this play a work that is as relevant today as it was in 1949 when the play was first performed. And finally, as I imagined how it could be produced on the historic Indiana Theatre stage, I realized it could be presented in such a way that supports a number of the company’s salient principles.

I took my cue for the set from Arthur Miller himself. According to his autobiography, Miller’s original idea was to place the drama on a virtually empty stage, with three platforms: just a few key props floating in blackness. There were to be no walls, not even a house, until the show’s first Broadway designer Jo Mielziner declared, with director Elia Kazan, that “the Salesman needs his house.” Miller not only agreed to that change but embraced it, including the skeletal house and backdrop of encroaching apartment buildings into the stage directions of the published play. But I became intrigued to explore Miller’s original idea because it corresponded with Theater 7’s principle of stage simplicity.

By Mark Bennett | Tribune-Star Feb 23, 2017

The struggles and joys of people from decades ago can seem surprisingly relevant in the present.

Interactions of characters from biblical times, a Mark Twain book or a ’70s movie might neatly fit into 2017. Just change the clothes styles, lingo and technology, and it’s clear that people are still humans in need of footwear, bread and love.

That’s why Jeff Lorick believes a play based on stories of a novelist from the Harlem Renaissance era of the early 20th century can hit home with Terre Hauteans of all backgrounds in the 21st century. Zora Neale Hurston, who became an icon of African-American literature after her death in 1960, lived through the heartbreaks, hard times and recoveries depicted in “Spunk.”

In 1989, Tony Award-winning playwright George C. Wolfe adapted the play from Hurston’s writings.

Appropriately, Theater 7 chose “Spunk” as its debut production. The group has given Terre Haute an asset that is rare for a small Midwestern community — a year-round, racially diverse, professional theater company with a mission to bring the art form to people who may never have attended a play. They aim to entertain, enlighten and inspire audiences. “Spunk” delivers on that goal, said Lorick, director of the play that continues its two-weekend run tonight, Saturday and Sunday in the Indiana Theatre.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – Feb. 1, 2017 – Theater 7 celebrates Black History Month with “Spunk”, a George C. Wolfe adaption of three short stories written by Zora Neale Hurston with music by Chic Street Man. It will be performed at the Indiana Theater and runs Feb. 17, 18, 19, 24, and 25. Tickets are on sale now at the ISU Hulman Center Box Office and ticketmaster.com.

Utilizing the blues, choral narrative and dance, the three tales focus on men and women trapped inside the "laughin' kind of lovin' kind of hurtin' kind of pain that comes from being human." The first of the three tales, SWEAT, tells the story of a young washerwoman who is abused and betrayed by her estranged husband and of her ultimate triumph over him. The second piece, STORY IN HARLEM SLANG, is told in 1940s Harlemese. It is the story of two street Lotharios trying to outhustle each other and win the favor of—and a meal from—a domestic on her payday afternoon off. The third tale, THE GILDED SIX BITS, is a bittersweet story of an adoring husband's betrayal by his loving but innocent wife.

Staff Report Published: August 31, 2016, 9:32 am Updated: August 31, 2016, 10:08 am
 
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – A performance with a purpose.

We recently told you about theater 7; it’s a new performing arts company in terre haute that focuses on a positive message.

Listen to the words… they tell a story, a very powerful one of what it’s like to feel alone, unwanted, isolated.

Those strong words are set to a rhythm, choreographed to perfection.

“With this, you have to be on the beat, all the time.”

These are actors at Theater 7 and they want their words to jump off the script, right to your heart.

By Mark Bennett | Tribune-Star Jul 1, 2016

The combination of characteristics seems unique for a small Midwestern city.

A professional theater company, with a fully diverse cast, calling the historic Indiana Theatre its home and often staging productions written by playwrights with Wabash Valley roots, as well as classic plays, year-round. That’s the hope for the new Theater 7 company, announced Friday night by its co-founders Arthur Feinsod and Jeff Lorick, and the troupe’s executive committee members.

Within five years, Theater 7 aims to develop enough viability, popularity and excellence to give Terre Haute the reputation as a place “where artists and actors want to stay,” Feinsod, the associate director, said, speaking in advance of Friday night’s announcement activities at the Indiana Theatre. “That would be an incredible thing.”

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – A brand-new local company is ready for the curtain to rise.

Theater 7, is the Wabash Valley’s newest arts organization. Theater 7 is a year-round professional theater company that’s dedicated to entertain, enlighten and inspire audiences.

Dreams are playing out on center stage for Jeff Lorick and Arthur Feinsod. Two men who decided to take their passions and turn them into a company that welcomes all.

“It can be life changing, life affirming and that’s what theater did for me,” said Lorick.

Lorick and Feinsod are the Co-Founders of Theater 7. It’s been a project months in the making.

“Well, there’s 7 principals, let’s call it Theater 7.”

The Indiana Theater will be the home for Theater 7. The historic stage, playing a big role for the future of the company.

Feinsod added, “We want to have a simple stage. Powerful, impactful, simple stage.”

As performers take the stage, they’ll play out stories that will open up conversations. Feinsod said, “We’re talking about focusing on the content of the plays and the characters so it can reach out to the audience. They can see their lives, their aspirations on the stage. A full interaction without distractions.”

All of the plays relating to the 7 principals. Commitment to new work, types of content, service, professional theater, simplified stages and criteria for core membership to maintain a quality professional theater.