By: Brittany Ann Meister
Our VFR Family is very busy! In these posts, we're going to focus on some of the projects and accomplishments from our former and current family members.
Kira Renkas was with us from the very beginning, as Juliet in VFR's premiere of "Romeo and Juliet" and returned with us again this summer as King Phillip in "The Life and Death of King John."
Recently, Kira has finally gotten a passion project of hers off the ground. We caught up with her and asked her to share some of her project with us.
Okay, so let's start off with a bit of basics about your project. How did you get it off the ground? How did you decide to do it?
K:Well it took a LOT of persistence to be honest. I asked many local theater companies around town to see if they would be the umbrella theater company as I don’t have one of my own. A couple were kind and gently turned me down, the rest didn’t respond, and Outskirts was kind enough to say “yes”. I think I had reach out to at LEAST ten but I do believe there’s more, unfortunately I’ve lost track because I started in July right after ‘King John’ closed. I decided to do it because I really think ‘The Children’s Hour’ is a story that still needs to be told and I realized it wasn’t going to be told in this city unless I took it into my own hands and created my own opportunity.
So, what makes you so passionate about "The Children's Hour?" I'm not very familiar with it unfortunately.
K:To give you a very brief plot, ‘the Children’s Hour’ is about two women that worked very hard to follow their dreams of becoming headmistresses of an all girls’ boarding school. After eight long years of working and scrimping and saving things finally come together, however a troublesome student starts a rumor that sends their success shattering to pieces. That wasn’t taken off the back of the script I promise lol What makes me so passionate about it is how it still relates to us as a society even still despite the play being written in the 1930s. It looks at how precarious a woman’s success is: how she has to work twice as hard to make it happen and how it can be taken from her even twice as fast and in this case, from a mere rumor. We as women can absolutely STILL relate to that as even in 2018 we continue to fight for our place in the world. It also looks at other themes of femininity as well as homosexuality, and class distinction. Lillian Hellman, the playwright, sculpts brilliant female characters (and of all ages as is apparent in this play) and she has such sharp wit alongside such a brilliant display of observation. She really was ahead of her time as she was one of the few prevalent female playwrights in the 1930s.
Wow! Thanks for that. I had never really looked into it previously even though I had heard of it. So, why do you think this has been difficult to get picked up?
K: It’s difficult to say. Possibly because it’s a bit dated, but I hardly think that’s a good enough reason. It’s not that it never gets done— a version was done in 2011 with Elizabeth Banks and Keira Knightly and of course there’s he movie version from the ‘60s with Audrey Hepburn and Shirley McClain. People that do know of the play always speak of it with passion and enthusiasm....The story is so brilliant and beautiful, I find it hard to figure out why it’s not done as frequently as it should.
How has it been working with a theatre company to produce something you feel so passionate about? How is the process coming along?
K: It’s been amazing! Outskirts has essentially given me free reign with my production and it’s coming along famously. The artistic director and I make a great team, in my opinion.
That's amazing! What's your timeline for the production?
K: We’re still in the fundraising phase. In April we have a fundraising bingo night at This is It, auditions will be held in May and the show will go up in July at the Brumder Mansion.
That sounds really great! Is there anything else you'd like to mention about this project?
K: Absolutely! OnMilwaukee has expressed interest in covering our story so I encourage folks to be on the look out for that. The more people at This is It, the merrier, that date will be April 12th. The LGBT Center has made a presence in our planning and the purpose of all of this is that we really want to have community engagement because of the dense material present in the script. It can bring all sorts of people together and raise awareness and camaraderie in the way that theater does so well. Not to mention, it’s just a great story that still deserves to be told .
If you would like to find out more about "The Children's Hour" with Outskirts Theatre, feel free to check out their gofundme below, and even donate while you're there!
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