By Joe Bachman
Wisconsin Rapids will be well represented at an upcoming theatre competition.
Wisconsin AACTFest (American Association of Community Theatre) is a competition where various teams will put on a one act show. Teams will be given only 60 minutes to perform their play, with acts joining in all over the state.
The Wisconsin Rapids Community Theatre will be represented in the competition by Greg Konz-Krzyminski and Bev Ross, who will be performing Donald L Coburn’s “The Gin Game”. The play will be directed by Cathy Meils, with Stage Management by Don Matthews.
Ross has been involved in community theatre for over four years now, and most recently had a part in “Much Ado About Nothing”, which has run multiple weekends at Sentry Theater in Stevens Point. Konz-Krzyminski has been involved with the community theatre from 1989-2003. Greg has jumped back and forth between Wisconsin Rapids and Milwaukee’s theatre scenes since.
While these thespians bring talent and put emotion into their craft, the one thing that has to be learned is trust.
“The main thing is the trust in your co-star with only two people,” said Konz-Krzyminski. “We have developed that almost to an art-form, and we’re a really strong team — I can’t imagine doing this with anyone other than she.”
“The Gin Game” is a tale of two senior citizens at a nursing home who start playing games of gun rummy. Soon, the card game turns into a metaphor for life, as intimate details are revealed about their past only to lead to an emotional and exciting conclusion.
“I would have never though I could do a two-person play like this,” said Ross. “To do a two-person play, to me, is an accomplishment.”
However, the Wisconsin Rapids Community Theatre (WRCT) isn’t the only act representative of local performers. Central Wisconsin Area Community Theatre (cwACT) out of Stevens Point will be represented at the competition by two Wisconsin Rapids natives.
31-year-old Amber Fait, and 32-year-old Josh Panter both grew up in the area, with Fait involved with past performances with WRCT. They will be performing “The Diary of Adam and Eve” during the event. The play, written by Mark Twain, is the story of Adam and Eve told through biblical literalism, and runs through their trials and tribulations. The play is directed by Scott Price, and Tana De Lonay.
With a two-person play, there comes obvious challenges, as Fait pointed out.
“I have all the lines,” joked Fait. “We thought with two people that this would be an easier show — but it was almost harder than a regular full fledged play.”
“There are fewer people to blame if something goes wrong,” joked Panter. “It’s having that responsibility that the play rests on your shoulders pretty heavily — it pushes you.”
Through the challenges that come with a two-person act inevitably comes learning, growth, and strength — which all four Rapids performers can attest to.
“A good friend from Milwaukee who got me into theatre always told me ‘if you don’t learn something during a performance activity, whether it’s directing or acting, then don’t bother doing it’,” said Konz-Krzyminski. “That’s what I really look for.”
“It really tested my abilities to be able to represent someone who has grown so much in a short period of time, and hopefully portraying that to its fullest with only 50 minutes.” said Fait.
The hurdles of putting on a performance with few props and actors doesn’t just affect those on stage, but also those off it.
“There’s very strict parameters on what we can and can’t do,” said De Lonay. “There’s limits on the set and props, so we’re going with a really bare set — it’s very sparse, so it’s all on these two to make the story come alive.”
At its very base, they are performances by the area’s best in local theatre, and proof that an abundance of flash and physicality is never necessary to tell a great story.
“The play is very well written,” said Meils in reference to The Gin Game. “There is humor, there is drama, there is tragedy, there is laughter — and it makes it a very satisfying experience that provokes laughter and tears.”
Wisconsin AACTFest takes place from Feb. 16 through Feb. 19 at Sentry Theater, located at 1800 Northpoint Dr. in Stevens Point.
“The Diary of Adam and Eve” will kick off the performances with a 7:15 p.m. performance on Friday, Feb. 17, while “The Gin Game” has their showing on Saturday, Feb. 18 at 9:15 a.m.