Applause Theater explores the power of family stories in its latest show, “Ending True,” which runs May 18-21 at Dreamland Arts (677 Hamline Ave. N.).
“The play is about the power held over us by the stories we hear growing up, and the power we have to change those stories to heal,” stated author Jim Lundy, who resides in west Como.
About the play: “Laura Tyndall is at the end of her rope. As her parents depart, can she keep the stories they’ve told – and one still untold? ‘Ending True’ affirms the redeeming power of stories to define and guide us: the factual and fictional, the inherited and those we create for ourselves.”
Ninety-minute shows are 7 p.m. Thursday to Saturday, and 2 p.m. on Sunday. Regular tickets are $20, and $16 for students, teachers, seniors and veterans. Pay What You Want on Thursday, May 18.
More at https://dreamlandarts.com/ending-true/.
Meet ‘Ending True’ script writer Jim Lundy:
How did you get involved with Applause Community Theater?
Lundy: The first few shows that I wrote were either self-produced at the Minnesota Fringe Festival, or by a now-defunct theater company called Eat Street Players in Minneapolis. I met Amy Luedtke there when she was cast in an early version of “Broken Hill”. Through Amy, I met Chad Snyder and Gary Davis, who have all been active in Applause Theater for some time. The first show I wrote that they produced was called “Bird Icon” in 2014, and they have produced numerous others since then.
What inspired this production?
Lundy: Drama is often inspired by personal experience, and “Ending True” is no exception. In our middle and older-middle age, many of us confront the departures of our elders. The stories we tell ourselves take outsized importance during these times. The stories may be factually true – or not. The stories may heal us – or not. But in a strange way, we get to choose.
How did you go about putting this together?
Lundy: The ideas, characters and situations have been percolating for a long time. My wife, Sherryl, and I lost four family members over a stretch of a few years, and we had to disperse their belongings and homes. Now these family members only continue to exist as the stories we tell, which is a form of healing.
What do you hope viewers get out of the show?
Lundy: I hope that some will relate to the tensions that inevitably arise when families are under stress. I hope they will see one character as resilient, and that another is caught in a hopelessly tragic loop. I hope that there are some laughs, and maybe some tears.
How do stories redeem and define us?
Lundy: Kevin Kling, a Minnesota story-teller of note, insists that each time we tell a traumatic story, we place emotional distance between ourselves and the painful experience. In this way, the stories become the means of our healing. I think he’s right. I hope our audience can recognize the opportunities our characters have to make that work.
Meet Zaraawar Mistry, co-founder and owner of Dreamland Arts (677 Hamline Ave. N). The 40 seat theater, owned and operated by theater artists Mistry and Leslye Orr. The building used to be Hedtke Electric, an electrical contractor’s shop. Mistry and Orr bought the property in 2005 and remodeled the building into an intimate, but well-equipped theater.
Mistry, known as “Z,” makes sure that everything from production week through the final curtain goes smoothly for Applause Theater and others.
How Dreamland Arts get started?
In the early 2000s, Leslye and I had run a non-profit arts organization based in Minneapolis to help support independent artists who produce their own work. Eventually we decided that we should have our own theater, where we could live and work, and also operate as a privately owned business. We started looking for a place around the Twin Cities, and found the Hedtke Electric building on Hamline Ave. N., which we bought in 2005 and remodeled into Dreamland Arts. We live in the adjoining house.
How have things changed?
When we first started, we thought we would do a mix of events, meetings, classes and community programming, but at some point we realized that our space was best suited for small events. So we mostly focused on presenting plays, music and dance concerts, poetry readings, puppet shows and film screenings. Sometimes artists use our space for a video or photo shoot, or for rehearsals. Since we opened our doors in 2006, we have served the young and the old, next door neighbors and distant travelers, and pros and dabblers.
How did COVID-19 affect you?
The COVID-19 shutdown was definitely unexpected and challenging, but being a small owner operated business with no employees helped. We had always been used to doing everything ourselves. Also, both my wife and I are solo writer-performers, so we were able to translate our existing work to the virtual realm fairly quickly. Government grants, such as the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant, as well as the St. Paul Bridge Fund, helped us pay a portion of our bills. Also, I was fortunate that I have a job with Springboard for the Arts, which kept its staff employed during the pandemic.
Tell us about your collaboration with Applause Theater.
We have worked with many different local theater groups over the years. Some use our space for a few weeks for one show, and then we may not see them again. A lot of the groups keep coming back, if not every year, then every other year, or every few years. Applause Community Theater first rented our space for a show in…2013, maybe…and they kept coming back regularly. They were the only theater company that kept doing shows with us through the pandemic, experimenting with virtual performances, then live streaming, and then finally back to in-person. We have a very special relationship with them.
After 17 years of running the theater, Leslye and I have decided to downsize and sell our house and theater (together considered one property by Ramsey County and attached via an underground passageway). Thank you for having been on this journey with us. We feel truly fortunate to have been able to welcome so many incredible artists and audiences over the years to our little corner of St. Paul.
We don’t know exactly what we will be doing for the next phase of our artistic adventure, but we’re very much looking forward to what’s to come!
Meet actress and Applause Theater board member Amy Luedtke, who resides in northeast Minneapolis.
Please talk about how you got involved with Applause Community Theater?
Luedtke: I started acting with Applause in 2010 and since then have also been involved in the planning and marketing of productions (I don’t remember the year but I eventually became a Board member). I’ve played so many wonderful roles, many created by Jim Lundy, but one of my favorites was Sally in “Talley’s Folly” by Lanford Wilson (a production that I got to co-star with Chad in!).
What inspires you about this production?
Luedtke: On a personal level, my involvement in this production is strongly inspired by my own experience of my family telling and re-telling family stories to connect with each other and to remember our deceased family members. As my sister died just a few weeks ago, this feels especially important to me.
What do you hope viewers get out the show?
Luedtke: I hope the audience is pulled into the lives of the characters, and that they recognize themselves and can identify with the characters, even though their own particular experiences may not be the same. I hope audiences feel affirmed by seeing others struggle with family stories and relationships, and that they are inspired to tell and think about their own stories. If I’m aiming big, I hope people are inspired to “re-write” and change any stories that are holding them back!
How do stories redeem and define us?
Luedtke: As humans, we make meaning through stories. We create and maintain relationships through stories, including relationships with those who are no longer physically with us. Our stories can limit us and hold us back (something the characters in “Ending True” struggle with), or they can inspire us and give us the courage to try something new.
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