Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Remy Bumppo's Beach Blanket Reading Recommendations

Remy Bumppo wants to know...what are you reading this summer? Here is a look at what company members are currently reading. Tell us your summer reading list and we'll publish the titles in next month's newsletter.

Artistic Associate Linda Gillum is reading Young Kate by Christopher Andersen. Young Kate is an authorized biography of Katharine Hepburn that touches very little on her career and later life and gives more detail about her parent's influence on her and their lives and how her brother's suicide affected the family. I read it in one day."

Artistic Director James Bohnen has two recommendations to get you in the mood for Night and Day, Tom Stoppard's great romantic play about the power and importance of reporters getting the story out. The first is Evelyn Waugh's fascinating novel about reporters following a war in Africa, Scoop. Written in 1937 after Waugh returned from Africa and covering the war in Ethiopia, the novel is about classes and the ways the press can massage the message. Stoppard was inspired to write Night and Day when he re-read it in the middle 1970s., and he uses a famous line from the novel in the play. Keep your ears peeled. The second book is brand new. It is a wonderful first novel by a foreign correspondent named Tom Rachman, The Imperfectionists. This book is about an English language paper published in Rome. It is told in individual chapters about various figures on the paper, so you get both a personal story of these vivid or sad or fragile or funny, or all of the above, characters, and a view into various jobs on a paper. If that weren't enough, at the end of each chapter is a two or three page piece that chronologically traces the history of the paper from its founding in the Sixties until 2007. Wonderful story telling and a glimpse into a world few of us have experienced.

Artistic Associate Nick Sandys recommends The Painter of Battles by Arturo Perez-Reverte, a thriller about an ex-photojournalist-turned-artist, haunted by memories and by a mysterious stranger, a novel that raises some very interesting moral dilemmas about journalism's role and responsibilities in the theatre of war, and possibly a good counterpoint to Night and Day which starts our season in the fall.

Marketing Chair and Founding Board President, Nancy McDaniel: ANY of the series of The Number One Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith. even if you are not passionate about Africa (and especially Botswana) as I am the vivid descriptions and engaging stories are sure to win you over. A quick read and wonderful for the pool beach or backyard this summer

Director of Development Kate Oczkowski is reading The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World by Eric Weiner. Weiner is a former foreign correspondent for NPR who traveled around the globe, visiting countries whose residents claim to be the “happiest” (eg. Iceland, Bhutan, Switzerland) and the “least happy” (eg. Moldova) to try to figure out what’s making them so blissful (or miserable – sorry, Moldovans). It’s a unique sort of travelogue – thought-provoking, inspiring and, at times, laugh-out-loud funny.

Business and Operations Manager Amy Schultz recommends The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan. Riordan, who used Greek mythology to capture our imaginations in his Percy Jackson series, now tackles the myths of Ancient Egypt in The Red Pyramid. This first book in a new series of adventures follows 14-year-old Carter Kane and his 12-year-old sister Sadie as they learn how to harness their “godling” powers in order to save the world from chaos and destruction. An entertaining and educational read for both children and adults!

Subscription Manager Charles Riffenburg highly recommends City of Truth by James Morrow. Morrow is one of the top religious and cultural satire authors in the country, and City of Truth is one of his most touching works, and a delightfully short read. It tells the story of Jack Sperry, who lives in a future dystopian world in which everyone has been conditioned to only speak the truth, regardless of the consequences. Jack's job is to destroy the lies of the old world, incinerating objects like art, novels, magazines, and all works of fiction. When his son is stricken with a fatal disease, he recalls having read about the power of hope and positive thinking in one of the artifacts he has destroyed, and decides to lie to his son by telling him he'll be alright. This leads Jack down a dangerous path, in which he must find the balance between lies and truth, and how an extreme in either direction is a bad thing.

Farewell and Godspeed Stephanie

by Remy Bumppo Executive Director Kristin Larsen

June is a significant month for Remy Bumppo. It is the end of our fiscal year and this year, the conclusion of our 13th season. June is usually an opportunity for all of us at Remy Bumppo to collect ourselves after a busy season of producing plays. We look forward to this time to reflect and plan for the upcoming season. However, this June is different. You know this upcoming season will be James Bohnen’s last as Remy Bumppo’s Artistic Director. As we all wonder what it might be like to no longer have his daily presence in the office come July 2011, he and I wonder what it will be like to no longer have our long time partner Stephanie Kulke, Remy Bumppo’s Director of Marketing and Communications, at our side over this next year.

On July 2 Stephanie leaves Remy Bumppo after eight years on staff, and five years prior to that as our Media Relations Director when she was at Carol Fox & Associates. Stephanie is starting Kick Start Marketing Chicago, her own marketing and media relations firm.

The accomplishments of Remy Bumppo over these past 13 years are attributable to the amazing artistic leadership of James, played out by our Artistic Associates, but only known to you and the other 14,000 people who in any given year visit Remy Bumppo because of the marketing and press relations that Stephanie has ably conceived and directed in her tenure with the company.

I remember well our first month together in August 2002. There were two desks and a fax machine in the office. Neither one of us had ever led a subscription campaign, much less ever assumed roles anything near what we were required as the first full-time staff of Remy Bumppo. Marcie McVay, the former Managing Director of Victory Gardens Theater and her staff were instrumental in mentoring our abilities in all things box office. And with their help Stephanie welcomed our first subscribers- 150 in 2002/03, which grew to 300, then 550, then 750 and now there are 1400 of you (-and we have 11 work stations and a copier)!

To review our past season brochures reminds me how much we have learned over the years, as a company and as individuals. Stephanie was the perfect partner for Remy Bumppo - the start up. She brought her five years of marketing Remy Bumppo while at Carol Fox & Associates- and hit the ground running. With Stephanie’s deep respect for James and the artists, she constantly reminded us of what we did best- and helped us find people who would appreciate the work of the company. She lent her extraordinary media relationships, expanding our horizons and own belief of what we might accomplish in this vibrant cultural community by suggesting arts partners such as the Humanities Festival, the Newberry Library, Chicago Public Radio, and MCA Stage. And Stephanie, in her steadfast way, is responsible for the continuity you see and hear in each of our published pieces from the season brochure, production postcards, video, website, monthly Newsletter and weekly e-blasts. Her voice has become our voice, and we will miss her contribution to the daily cacophony of our shared workspace.

AND I am pleased that our association with Stephanie will continue, in support of her private enterprise, by engaging her and Kick Start Marketing Chicago. Stephanie will partner with our incoming Director of Marketing & Audience Development, Chelsea Keenan (see separate article) and manage each production’s public and press relations.

My relationship with Stephanie has been the richest and deepest of any professional relationship. As I begin my 8th year as Remy Bumppo’s Executive Director, what I find most surprising is not that people come and then go, but how much I still miss them, though they may have departed years ago. You might think I am referring to staff members or actors, but I am also thinking of subscribers and long time supporters. I would have thought the longer I am here myself, the easier it would become. But I see now, that Stephanie’s departure awakens within me the awareness that each relationship begun as a result of my association with Remy Bumppo, is deeply rich and intimate.

This is the legacy of Remy Bumppo… that our commitment to artistic excellence, thoughtful community discourse, and engagement of the highest quality of talent (on and off the stage) has thrilled your ear and STIRRED YOUR HEART.

Godspeed Stephanie. You have stirred our hearts.