By Patsy Isenberg
After eighteen months of no live theatre indoors in Flint, the Flint Repertory Theatre (The Rep) begins its 2021-2022 season with a production of the absurdist comedy “Happy Days.” The play opens with an 8 p.m. Oct. 8 performance, with a run of eight more performances through Oct. 17.
All audience members will be required to wear masks and present either proof of vaccination or negative results of a COVID test.
Tickets can be purchased at 810-237-7333. More information on performance dates and times is available at flintrep.org.
About “Happy Days” and cast
This play, written by Samuel Beckett in 1961, was first performed in New York on Sept. 17, 1961. Because of its surreal strangeness, some might say “Happy Days” is an appropriate play for the month of October with fall arriving and Halloween looming and after 18 months of pandemic chaos.
This play features primarily just two characters, a married couple buried in a mound of earth talking to each other “going” about their days and reminiscing as though this was a perfectly natural situation. “Though Happy Days is one of Beckett’s most playful works it is also a play of despair and horror of sorts,” according to the British Library website.
Janet Haley plays the female character and Rico Bruce Wade plays the male character. Both Haley and Wade have been cast in several previous Rep productions and have won Wilde Awards for their performances.
Janet Haley effectively played the mentally unstable mother in “The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds,” nurse Ratchet in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” and several others. Haley is also assistant professor of theatre at the University of Michigan – Flint.
Wade performed three roles in the Rep’s “Into the Woods” and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” which was the final play of the 2020 season. Unfortunately “… Cuckoo’s Nest’s …” run was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kathryn Walsh is directing this production of “Happy Days.” Walsh has directed other plays at The Rep including “The Effect of Gamma-Rays on Man-in-the-Marigolds,” “The Wolves,” and Balloonacy. Walsh is a Chicago-based freelance teacher, director and coach.
How The Rep stayed alive in lockdown
The Rep managed to remain active through the pandemic, putting on an outdoor musical in July titled “Songs for a New World.” EVM attended that performance, which seemed like a thespian reunion following the lockdown in March of 2020.
The Rep also partnered with the Flint Public Art Project, June through August last summer, by offering a COVID-friendly outdoor experience, presenting short audio plays viewers could listen to on their phones via an app called PixelStix while looking at several of Flint Art Project’s murals around town.
2021-2022 season “reimagines what theatre can be”
Coming up in season 2021-2022 are several other presentations. Michael Lluberes, Producing Artistic Director of The Rep, says “This season, we ask you to reimagine what theatre can be as we renew our commitment to create work that sparks joy, provokes thought, challenges and entertains in new and exciting ways.”
In December “The Fantasticks” will be “reimagined.” It’s the longest-running musical in history, this time re-imagined as a love story between two young men..
In early 2022, the Rep will present “Wrong River.” This play touches on the Flint water crisis and was developed in The Rep’s “New Works Festival.”
The spring lineup will feature Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” starring an accomplished Broadway actor, Lewis J. Stadlen. Stadlen is a two-time Tony Award nominee.
After that, the aforementioned “New Works Festival” will again occur. The festival offers readings of new plays and musicals over a three-day weekend, some of which might be eventually performed at The Rep.
Then “The Magnificent Seven” can finally be seen by Flint audiences. This musical was planned for 2020 but had to be postponed because of the pandemic. This was one of the works “found” at 2020’s “New Works Festival.”
Summary of audience requirements
About the pandemic, these instructions have been given on Flint Institute of Music’s website at thefim.org/covid-19/: “THE FOLLOWING WILL BE IN EFFECT FOR THE FIRST PRODUCTION OF THE FLINT REPERTORY THEATRE BEGINNING ON OCTOBER 8, and through the production ending December 19:
- Masks Required regardless of vaccination status.
- Proof of Vaccination OR Proof of a Negative COVID-19 Test Required.
- There are no exceptions to this policy.”
For more info about performance dates and times, buying tickets (including Arts Education and Cultural Enrichment Millage resident benefits), and about its public health measures, visit flintrep.org. or call 810-237-1530. Tickets can be purchased at 810-237-7333.
The Flint Repertory Theatre is located at 1220 E Kearsley St. across from Whiting Auditorium in the Flint Cultural Center complex.
EVM reporter and layout coordinator Patsy Isenberg can be reached at email@example.com..