Milwaukee Chamber Theatre
Press Release

Milwaukee Chamber Theatre presents The Train Driver by Athol Fugard

February 25 – March 15, 2015

By - Feb 2nd, 2015 04:56 pm
The Train Driver.

The Train Driver.

Milwaukee, WI … Milwaukee Chamber Theatre (MCT) continues its 40th Anniversary season, with the Midwest premiere of THE TRAIN DRIVER by Athol Fugard. MCT Producing Artistic Director C. Michael Wright, who has collaborated with Fugard in the past, directs this hard-hitting new drama. Performances are February 25 – March 15, 2015 at the Broadway Theatre Center’s Studio Theatre in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward.

In THE TRAIN DRIVER, Roelf Visagie is desperately searching for the identities of a mother and child he unintentionally killed with his train. After an unsuccessful journey through shanty towns, his quest eventually leads him to an eye-opening encounter with an old gravedigger.

Inspired by an actual event in South Africa, Athol Fugard’s new drama explores themes of guilt, redemption and brotherhood in a post-Apartheid world. THE TRAIN DRIVER premiered in 2010 at the Fugard Theatre in Cape Town, South Africa, where it was directed by Fugard himself.

“This is for me the whole; it’s my truth and reconciliation. I think all of my writing life led up to the writing of THE TRAIN DRIVER because it deals with my own inherited blindness and guilt and all of what being a white South African in South Africa during those apartheid years meant.” –Athol Fugard

One of our greatest living playwrights, Athol Fugard was born in South Africa in 1932 to English and Afrikaner parents. He has received international acclaim and his best-known work deals with the political and social upheaval of the Apartheid system in South Africa.

The premiere of Fugard’s play THE BLOOD KNOT, in Johannesburg in 1961, marked the first time a black man and a white man appeared together on stage in South Africa. When THE BLOOD KNOT was produced in England, the South African government withdrew his passport for four years. His other plays include “MASTER HAROLD” …and the boys, THE ROAD TO MECCA, THE CAPTAIN’S TIGER, VALLEY SONG, BOESMAN AND LENA, MY CHILDREN! MY AFRICA!, A LESSON FROM ALOES, EXITS AND ENTRANCES and SIZWE BANZI IS DEAD. Fugard frequently directs and performs in his plays which are regularly performed in theatres in South Africa, Great Britain, the United States and around the world. Several of his plays have been adapted for the screen and his novel Tsotsi was made into a film that won the 2005 Academy Award® for Best Foreign Language Film. In 2011 he received a special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in Theatre.

MCT Producing Artistic Director C. Michael Wright, who has a remarkable history with Fugard and his work, will direct THE TRAIN DRIVER. In 1983, Wright appeared in Fugard’s “MASTER HAROLD”…and the boys on Broadway, in Israel and in the national tour, which were all directed by the playwright.

When asked about Fugard, Wright said, “Athol Fugard is one of my heroes. I love the issues he writes about. Even though his plays are specific to his South African experience, his themes are universal and the stories he chooses to tell have such profound impact and resonance.”

The cast features David Daniel as the train driver Roelf Visagie and Michael A. Torrey as the gravedigger Simon Hanabe. Daniel’s past MCT appearances include ANCESTRAL VOICES (2001) and THE HERBAL BED (2002). He also serves as both a Core Company member and the Education Director at American Players Theatre in Spring Green. Torrey returns to MCT after performing in DRIVING MISS DAISY (2011), directed by C. Michael Wright. Based in Chicago, he has performed at numerous regional theatres. Locally Torrey has performed with First Stage and Next Act Theatre, where he was seen in Fugard’s “MASTER HAROLD”…and the boys, also directed by Wright.

Milwaukee Chamber Theatre’s history with Fugard’s work includes THE ROAD TO MECCA (1990), MY CHILDREN! MY AFRICA! (1993), VALLEY SONG (1998) and A LESSON FROM ALOES (2007). Producing a new work by this renowned playwright is an ideal way to continue the 40th anniversary celebration of “Something Old, Borrowed and New.”

CAST

Roelf Visagie: David Daniel

Simon Hanabe: Michael A. Torrey

[ PRODUCTION STAFF ]

Director:  C. Michael Wright

Scenic Designer:  Lisa Schlenker

Costume Designer:  Debra Krajec

Lighting Designer:  Stephen Roy White

Properties Master:  Melissa Centgraf

Sound Designer: Toy Deiorio

Dialect Coach: Michelle Lopez-Rios

PERFORMANCE INFORMATION

Wednesday, Feb. 25 – 7:30 pm, Pay-What-You-Can preview

Thursday, Feb.26 – 7:30 pm, Preview

Friday, Feb. 27- 8:00 pm, Opening

Saturday, Feb. 28 – 4:00 pm

Saturday, Feb. 28 – 8:00 pm

Sunday, March 1 – 2:00 pm

Wednesday, March 4 – 7:30 pm, ViewPoints

Thursday, March 5- 7:30 pm, Talkback

Friday, March 6 – 8:00 pm

Saturday, March 7 – 4:00 pm

Saturday, March 7 – 8:00 pm

Sunday, March 8 – 2:00 pm

Wednesday, March 11 – 1:00 pm, Talk Theatre

Wednesday, March 11 – 7:30 pm

Thursday, March 12 – 7:30 pm, Talkback

Friday, March 13 – 8:00 pm

Saturday, March 14 – 4:00 pm

Saturday, March 14 – 8:00 pm

Sunday, March 15 – 2:00 pm

SPECIAL EVENTS

–Pre-performance ViewPoints: a free, pre-show presentation about South Africa by UWM professors Rob Smith and Nicole Ridgway on Wednesday, March 4 at 6:30 p.m. in the Skylight Bar & Bistro.

–Pre-performance Talk Theatre: MCT Producing Artistic Director C. Michael Wright will lead a lively and informative chat with Scenic Designer Lisa Schlenker and Props Master Melissa Centgraf beginning at 12:00 noon before the matinee on Wednesday, March 11 in the Skylight Bar & Bistro.

–Post-performance Talkbacks:  Post-show discussion with the director and cast following performances on Thursday, March 5 and Thursday, March 12.

THE TRAIN DRIVER performances are February 25 – March 15, 2015 (Opening Night: Friday, February 27) in the Broadway Theatre Center’s Studio Theatre, 158 N. Broadway in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward.  Tickets are available Monday through Saturday from noon-6:00 p.m. at the Broadway Theatre Center Box Office, 158 N. Broadway, or by phone at (414) 291-7800. Tickets can be purchased online – 24 hours a day at milwaukeechambertheatre.com. Group, student and senior discounts are also available. For more information, visit milwaukeechambertheatre.com.  The production is co-sponsored by Lloyd & Mary Ann Gerlach, Kathryn & Vern Herman and Jamshed & Deborah Patel.

BIOGRAPHIES

DAVID DANIEL – Roelf Visagie

David Daniel returns to MCT after appearing in ANCESTRAL VOICES (2001) and THE HERBAL BED (2002). He is a Core Company member at American Players Theatre in Spring Green, Wisconsin where he also serves as the Education Director. Previous Fugard work included EXITS AND ENTRANCES in APT’s Touchstone Theatre in 2010. He is a graduate of the Professional Theatre Training Program at the University of Delaware and a veteran of the United States Army.

MICHAEL A. TORREY – Simon Hanabe

Michael Torrey returns to MCT after performing in DRIVING MISS DAISY (2011). He also appeared in Next Act Theatre’s 2005 production of Fugard’s “MASTER HAROLD” …and the boys, directed by C. Michael Wright. He has performed with First Stage in A MIDNIGHT CRY, THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE and THE TRUE CONFESSIONS OF CHARLOTTE DOYLE. Currently based in Chicago, he has worked with theatre’s including The Goodman, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Theatre at the Center, Tennessee Repertory Theatre, The Clarence Brown Theatre and New American Theatre. He has also appeared in numerous commercials, film and television programs and was part of the NBC Emmy-winning PSA campaign “Raising Parents.”

  1. MICHAEL WRIGHT – Director, MCT Producing Artistic Director

Michael Wright continues a long-standing relationship with Athol Fugard and his work. Back in 1983, he appeared in Fugard’s “MASTER HAROLD”…and the boys on Broadway, in Israel and in the national tour, which were all directed by the playwright. In 1984, he reprised the role at Milwaukee Rep, marking his first visit to Milwaukee. And then in 2005, he had the opportunity to direct the play at Next Act Theatre. Since joining the MCT staff later that same year, he has directed THE GOOD FATHER, LEND ME A TENOR, UNDERNEATH THE LINTEL, COLLECTED STORIES (a collaboration with Forward Theater Company), HEROES, DRIVING MISS DAISY, THE LION IN WINTER, THE SUBJECT WAS ROSES, THE SWEETEST SWING IN BASEBALL, PICNIC, BROOKLYN BOY, RABBIT HOLE, TALLEY’S FOLLY, TRYING, TALKING HEADS, A WALK IN THE WOODS and JOE EGG, as well as three original works: OCTOBER, BEFORE I WAS BORN, THE DALY NEWS and DICKENS IN AMERICA (which he also directed at American Players Theatre). Before MCT, he served as Associate Artistic Director of Next Act Theatre for eight years. Since moving to Wisconsin in 1988, he has directed well over 75 productions. He has been acting professionally for 38 years, having appeared in regional theatres all across the country. His most recent performances have been as Serge in ‘ART’, Philip in MAURITIUS and Dr. Alfred Feldmann in DUET FOR ONE, all at MCT. In 2009, Michael was honored with an “Artist of the Year” award by the City of Milwaukee Arts Board

MILWAUKEE CHAMBER THEATRE

Founded in 1975, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre (MCT) celebrates its 40th Anniversary in 2014-2015. MCT produces intimate and accessible theatrical works that engage and challenge the audience, while employing and nurturing principally local theatre artists. Under the leadership of Producing Artistic Director C. Michael Wright and Managing Director Kirsten Mulvey, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre performs at the Broadway Theatre Center in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward.

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