Interview with director Charlie Mitchell

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Originally published at thehipp.org.

Rachel: To start could you tell me about yourself and your involvement with the Hippodrome theatre and the community?

Charlie: I’m Charlie Mitchell. I’ve been a professor of theatre at the university for about 9 years where I teach theatre courses and direct plays. I have been a company member for almost as long at least 5 years and have been involved with 8 Hipp productions as both an actor, director, and playwright for one show.

Rachel: What shows did you direct and write?

Charlie: I co-directed Avenue Q and that was my first experience here and I wrote and directed the Snow Queen which was a holiday show back in 2014 or 2015.

Rachel: As director of A Doll’s House, Part 2 at the Hippodrome theatre and as a playwright yourself, you have a unique perspective on what it means to take a fresh look on old tale.

Charlie: Well it’s funny that you mention this because when I was getting my masters in playwriting, in one of the exercises we had to do was to write a scene from A Doll’s House play that isn’t there. I chose one where she comes back. So, it’s so funny to me that this little exercise that I did back in playwriting school was fully realized by somebody else and, may I add, much better than I ever did. I think what the playwright has done is really amazing. I think he stays really true to the original in terms of what those characters wanted and then what they clashed over and the kind of lives they wanted to have although you’ll notice the language of course is a little more outdated.

Rachel: I was noticing that with words I won’t say right now [in A Doll’s House, Part 2]. Would you say that this twenty first century riff on the original classic represents as modern?

Charlie: I think it’s very modern. I think it asked a lot of questions about things like marriage and relationships, questions we’re all still asking ourselves. Like who do we become inside of a marriage? When you take the vows of marriage are you making a vow to this person of the moment? Are you sort of promising to love that person? Because the only constant is change, right? So you’re groom-to-be or your bride-to-be will not be the same person in the years to come. In this age of divorce people are sort of asking and answering that question for themselves a lot because we do change. We do become different. Then the play even has us asking ourselves is that even true? I used to teach this play, A Doll’s House, the original which is considered the first piece of great modern writing or playwriting. So I think it’s so funny that we are still talking about that play now. Because back in the day A Doll’s House was revolutionary. For a woman to walk out on her life and not just her husband but her children. Her role as wife and mother. When she slams the door on her way out, it was called a slam heard all around the world. How interesting to see what happens when she comes back and how these characters still have so much unfinished business.

Rachel: Do you have to have seen A Doll’s House?

Charlie: No, not at all. I think the play stands on its own. You understand right away what happened in the past. I don’t think knowing the original is necessary, although knowing the original is interesting.

Rachel: You touched on this earlier on how the audience can relate because these problems are still very current struggles that we all face within our families.

Charlie: What do we want in a relationship? What’s make or break for us? What is our role? I think you have actually four characters with very different ideas. Some traditional, some not so traditional, but all of them fighting it out to present their point of view.

Rachel: Why do you think it’s an important play for today? Why do you think people can relate to it?

Charlie: What do we owe other people? The people in our lives, can you truly shed yourself of your past? These are all questions that we all ask ourselves. Can people change? Can you become a different person? Can you lose yourself in a relationship? What is a relationship? What is a true marriage? That is what is brought up when Nora is leaving in the first one as she’s walking out on her husband and her kids which is still a big thing. For a woman to leave her husband and her children and her role as a mother. This is still, for a play written back in the 1870s, still a huge deal. So, when she comes back, she has a lot to answer for. I’ll be curious to see how audiences interpret what the character of Nora says. Are they just going to judge her on her past actions or are they going to take a hard look at why she left and have some sympathy for her reasons? It’s also very funny. That is not brought up enough. It is a very funny play. It’s a funny play about very serious people.

Rachel: Okay, it sounds like it discusses a lot of very serious subjects such as marriage and divorce.

Charlie: Well, the original A Doll’s House is not the least bit funny. But the way this is played because people are funny, and because trying to get what we want and not getting what we want is so funny, it’s a very funny play. I think people are going to find that surprising. I would be hesitant to call it fully a comedy, but I found it very funny when I read it and I know audiences have too when it has been played elsewhere. The Broadway show for example, people were howling.

Rachel: What are you excited to see happen on stage?

Charlie: Well it is very much an actor-driven show. I guess all shows are actor-driven. But I’m just excited to see the fireworks between these characters. I’m excited to see actors’ step inside these roles.

Rachel: Is there anything else you’d like to add about A Doll’s House, Part 2 at the Hipp?

Charlie: I find it more funny than dramatic when reading it. These are people very frustrated by each other and to me that is sort of the essence of comedy.

 

A Doll’s House, Part 2

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You thought it was over. It’s not. Nora returns to the family she left 15 years ago – what could possibly go wrong? A cutting-edge riff on the original classic that caused riots more than 100 years ago, “A Doll’s House, Part 2” by Lucas Hnath opens at the Hippodrome Theatre on Friday, Jan. 11, with showtimes through Feb. 3.
“A Doll’s House, Part 2” is a visceral and quick-witted look at what happens when you have to cross a bridge you’ve burned, and is directed by Charlie Mitchell, playwright, University of Florida theatre professor and director.
“Back in the day ‘A Doll’s House’ was revolutionary,” Mitchell said. “For a woman to walk out on her life and not just her husband, but her children. It was called ‘a door slam heard all around the world.’ How interesting to see what happens when she comes back and how these characters still have so much unfinished business.”
You don’t have to have seen Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House” to “get it.” Mitchell says the play stands on its own, “You understand right away what happened in the past.”
Previously on the Hippodrome mainstage, Mitchell co-directed “Avenue Q” and directed and wrote “Snow Queen.” Recently, he was seen acting in “Let the Right One In” and “The Legend of Georgia McBride.”
This is Nora’s story.

 

Photos by Rachel Jones.

Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!)

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“Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!)” is bubbling up with Holiday cheer and brimming with cherished tales from around the world! Whether you’re the Rudolph of the Holidays or even the Grinch, you’ll find the fruit of the fruit cake in “Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!)” at the Hippodrome Theatre, with performances beginning on Friday, Nov. 23! From seasonal icons to pop culture, this story’s got something in its stocking for YOU.

“EVERY CHRISTMAS STORY EVER TOLD (AND THEN SOME!) is a playful romp through some of our favorite holiday memories,” said Stephanie Lynge, who is directing the production. “The stories that still make us think of hot chocolate, sledding in the snow, and family all together to celebrate the season.”

Three actors decide to perform every Christmas story ever told, rather than “A Christmas Carol” for the umpteenth time (though, we are doing that, too, of course!). The performance that ensues is a whirl of hilarity that will leave you laughing in the aisles like “A Tuna Christmas” and the “Ultimate Christmas Show (Abridged).” BUT TO THIS ONE, you can even brings the kids.

“Wackiest, tackiest, and happiest holiday event(s)!” – USA Today.

 

The Wolves on the Hippodrome Mainstage

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“We are the Wolves.”
Onstage Aug. 31 – Sept. 23

The Hippodrome Theatre partners with the University of Florida School of Theatre + Dance (UF SoTD) to bring the acclaimed new play THE WOLVES to the stage. Written by Sarah DeLappe and directed by Lauren Warhol Caldwell, THE WOLVES is onstage August 31 – September 23, with previews August 29 and 30 at 7 p.m.

Pure excitement in the much-anticipated and energy-packed production kicks off the 2018-19 season with THE WOLVES. THE WOLVES is ONSTAGE NOW and runs for a limited 3 weeks through Sunday, Sept. 23.

Get ready to immerse yourself in the emboldened, bright-eyed and quick-witted lives a suburban high school girls’ soccer team. With their sassy and hysterical dialogue, these athletic mean girls will have you laughing in the first minute.

“This is a high-energy play with crackling dialogue and fascinating characters,” said Jerry Dickey, Ph.D., UF SoTD.

Check out the video on our YouTube for a glimpse of THE WOLVES on the Hippodrome Mainstage, or come out TONIGHT and see for yourself!

On stage August 31 – September 23 with 7 performances a week: Tuesdays at 7 p.m. | Wednesdays at 7 p.m. |Thursdays at 7 p.m. | Fridays at 8 p.m. | Saturdays at 5 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. | Sundays at 2 p.m.

CRITIC’S PICK! ”The scary, exhilarating brightness of raw adolescence emanates from every scene of this uncannily assured first play by Sarah DeLappe.” - The New York Times

“A firecracker of a play, spilling over with humor, insight and searing pathos.” - The Hollywood Reporter

“DeLappe has created an ensemble of distinct female characters without leaning on romantic partners or traditional feminine tropes to define them.” - Theatremania

“DeLappe’s exquisitely orchestrated cross talk and overlapping banter, dense with profanity and jokes, is quite musical.” - Time Out NY

“The Wolves is a delightful meditation on society, sex, and soccer… DeLappe’s dialogue is hilarious and idiosyncratic, moving swiftly from gross-out humor to pain [...] She offers us ninety minutes in a smart, sympathetic, female world. It’s a patch of Astroturf I would gladly set foot on again.” - The Village Voice

“There are not many plays like this one. It’s exhilarating, stunning, and hysterical,” Lauren Warhol Caldwell said. ”This all-female cast of THE WOLVES depicts a pack of women who, while warming up for each game, dive into conversations that inhabit the teenage brain as they tremble on the brink of adulthood.”

“The school is especially pleased because the play offers outstanding roles for a large number of college-age women.  It’s a special treat for actresses in our school to have this opportunity to work on a female-driven play in a professional environment at the Hipp,” Dickey said. ”The co-production with the Hippodrome Theatre is one of the annual highlights for the UF School of Theatre + Dance.”

A finalist for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize, the Lucille Lortel and Drama League awards for Best Play, as well as for the Outer Critics’ Circle John Gassner Award for Outstanding New American Play, and winner of the 2015 Relentless Award for Playwriting, THE WOLVES was named one of the year’s best plays by The New York Times.

“From tampons to Cambodia, the topics pop into conversation like popcorn popping into the air,” Caldwell said. “THE WOLVES submerge into the world of politics, pop culture and teenage anxiety. Within the scope of the play, we are exposed to the individual journey of each young woman.” A particular event forces the tribe to face what it takes to get through as one organism - complete, fierce and strong - in their plight of winning games. Content Advisory: suggestive content & profanity typical of what you would expect from teenagers.Tickets at (352)375.4477 or thehipp.org. Watch this short promo video for the Hippodrome Theatre’s stage production of THE WOLVES: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=keIUzoJpMgY

Photos by Rachel Jones. Video directed and edited by Rachel Jones, shot by Michael A. Eaddy, with sound by Amanda Yanes.

THE WOLVES onstage at the Hipp Aug. 31 – Sept. 23

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Video directed and edited by Rachel Jones, filmed by Michael A. Eaddy, with sound design by Amanda Yanes.

Behind-the-Scenes at the Hippodrome Theatre

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Some say its haunted, some work there anyway! Take a glimpse behind the scenes of Gainesville, Florida’s Hippodrome Theatre. The Hippodrome was a Post Office and Courthouse prior to becoming Gainesville’s regional theater. Photos by Rachel Jones.