Monday, June 10, 2013

National Czech & Slovak Museum Premiers New Working Group Play

Sean Christopher Lewis as Marek and Maria Vorhis as
Jitka. Photo by Rob Merritt/NCSML.
Cedar Rapids – "The National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library is premiering a new original play by Working Group Theatre, and the public is invited to see it for free.

The Finder’s Daughter, an original script based heavily on hundreds of real-life oral histories, will be presented as a free outdoor performance in the NCSML’s Rockwell Collins Amphitheatre. The "Theatre by the Cedar" performance is the grand finale of opening day for the NCSML’s new permanent exhibit, "Faces of Freedom: The Czech and Slovak Journey." The performance begins at 7 p.m.; audience members are encouraged to bring their own chairs and blankets.

Written by Working Group Artistic Director Sean Christopher Lewis, who previously earned acclaim with Mayberry and Killadelphia, The Finder’s Daughter is the tale of a family struggling under the oppression of the Russian regime. Marek (played by Lewis) is struggling to simultaneously raise Jitka (Maria Vorhis), the daughter of his best friend – who was taken by the Russians eight years previously and never seen again – and continue his friend’s work publishing underground newspapers alongside Jana (Kristy Hartsgrove Moors). As the "vanishings" of political dissidents get closer and closer, Marek is torn between protecting his family and fighting for his people.

"It was amazing to me how Working Group was able to put together all these stories into these composite characters who were so vibrant and had such great depth," said NCSML Vice President of Development Jason Wright. "By the end of my first viewing of this play, there were tears in my eyes. This was a very moving piece, and we were just blessed that Working Group was willing to take it on."

The performance of The Finder’s Daughter is the final piece of a full day of free events at the NCSML June 15. Other events include the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new exhibit, with special guest Eugene Cernan, the commander of Apollo 17 and the final astronaut to walk on the moon; musical performances by Sarah Meredith Livingston and Timothy Cheek; free family activities; guest speakers; and more. Lewis will also discuss the creation of The Finder’s Daughter at 3 p.m.

"Faces of Freedom: The Czech & Slovak Journey" features rare artifacts, cutting-edge interactive displays and in-depth exhibits on puppets, music and art. The permanent, 7,000-square-foot exhibition features a replica of the steerage section of a steamer ship that brought immigrants to America; a Tatra secret police car; an authentic JAWA motorcycle; a replicated communist watch tower; a rotating carousel of kroje costumes; and more, all aiming to show visitors why "Faces of Freedom" is everyone’s story.

Full calendar of events for Saturday, June 15
9 a.m.
Doors Open
Admission discount for visitors wearing kroje
Koláče and coffee for sale by the Guild of the NCSML

9:30 a.m.
Official Ribbon Cutting Ceremony and Opening of "Faces of Freedom: The Czech and Slovak Journey" in Rozek Grand Hall

10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Hemphill Theater featuring:
Making Faces of Freedom: Bringing the Journey to Life
• Summer of Tanks
• A Monumental Move

10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Activities for the whole family in the Alliant Energy Classroom

Skala Bartizal Library featuring:
• Hidden Treasures of the Library: Rarities, Curiosities, and Oddities
• Solving History Mysteries: A Family-Friendly Activity Using Historic Documents
• Unauthorized Velvet Revolution Video Footage
• Leaving Czechoslovakia Exhibit and Interview Footage

10:30-4:30 p.m.
Freedom Speaks Series Talks and Performances, WFLA/ZCBJ Heritage Hall

10:30 a.m.
Conversation with Captain Eugene Cernan
With both Slovak and Czech heritage, Captain Cernan became the last person to walk on the Moon when he served as Captain of NASA’s Apollo 17 in 1972.

11:30 a.m.
The Making of Faces of Freedom: The Czech and Slovak Journey
Stefanie Kohn, NCSML Curator, and Xibitz Design Team

1:00 p.m.
“Forever Kaprálová: The Life and Music of Vítězslava Kaprálová (1915-1940)”
Lecture and Recital
Timothy Cheek, D.M.A.
Timothy Cheek, D.M.A teaches a class in Czech vocal literature at the University of Michigan. In 2012, he performed at the historic Rudolfinum, Prague, as part of the presentation of the Masaryk-Wilson Award for Democracy and Freedom. He also performed at the dedication of the Woodrow Wilson Memorial celebration.

2 p.m.
Oral History Panel
Moderated by Rosie Johnston, NCSML Coordinator Recording Voices & Documenting Memories of Czech & Slovak Americans

3 p.m.
Capturing History for the Stage: An Examination on Oral History, Theater and their Intersection
Playwright, Director, and Actor Sean Christopher Lewis discusses how he created The Finder’s Daughter. The award-winning writer and director is a commentator on NPR’S “This American Life.” Lewis’ work includes Mayberry and Killadelphia.

4 p.m.
Special Musical Performance:
Czech & Slovak Vocal Repertoire Since 1850
Sarah Meredith Livingston, D.M.A. accompanied by Timothy Cheek, D.M.A.
Livingston, Mezzo-Soprano, has performed throughout Europe and North and South America. The talented award winner has organized student and faculty groups to perform around the world, including Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

Noon-8 p.m.
Beer and Beverage Garden Open, Naxera Terrace (prices vary)

7 p.m.
Galleries and Museum Store Close

7 p.m.
Theatre on the Cedar: The Finder’s Daughter
Rockwell Collins Amphitheater
Bring your lawn chairs or blankets to this open-air theatrical event. Commissioned by the NCSML, The Finder’s Daughter is a world-premiere play based on the NCSML Oral History Program."

(Source: NCSML Press Release)

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