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On Stage

Dancing for Dollars

Saints and sweets at iDiOM fundraiser

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Typically, one has to be dead, holy and the focus of a miracle or two in order to be considered for sainthood. All I had to do to achieve benediction was agree to host a fundraising party for the iDiOM Theater in my house and backyard.

I’m not waiting around for a papal blessing to crow about my saintly status, either. It’s written in capital letters on the printed invitations to the “Desserts and Dancing” gathering happening Friday, Aug. 22, and that’s good enough for me.

Truth be told, I wasn’t looking for someone to admire my good deeds when I agreed to host the summertime soiree. I’ve been a fan of the iDiOM long enough to be aware that the powers that be know how to throw excellent parties, and I’ve also seen more high-quality plays at the Cornwall Avenue creative space than pretty much anywhere else in my entire life (and I’ve seen so many plays in my life).

In other words, I think supporting iDiOM is more than worth the effort it will take for me to deep-clean my kitchen and bathroom and mow the lawn.

While the focus of the night’s activities will indeed be on the consumption of many delicious desserts (including ice cream from Mallard and a chocolate fountain!) and the burning off of those sweet things via the vigorous shaking of your booty (with music provided by DJ Jed Bailey), many of iDiOM’s actors, board members, directors and others will also be on hand and will be more than happy to talk about the upcoming season of plays.

In particular, artistic director and theater founder Glenn Hergenhahn-Zhao wants people to know about what he’s calling the “biggest production in the theater’s 12-year history; a massive 4.5-hour epic play that contains all seven Sophocles plays in one evening of bloody comic tragedy.”

To produce Chicago-based playwright Sean Graney’s These Seven Sicknesses, iDiOM is hoping to raise $12,000 via a Kickstarter campaign that will debut sometime this week. Hergenhahn-Zhao says those who donate $25 will, come October, get a ticket to the “theatrical experience of the season,” as well as dinner and dessert. He’ll be directing, and his talents will be enhanced by original music by Cormac Bluestone, choreography by Western Washington University theatre arts professor Rich Brown, co-direction by Sean Cook, and costuming by Glenn’s wife, Shu-Ling Hergenhahn-Zhao.

But fans won’t have to wait until October to take part in the theater’s biggest season yet. The Fall Fringe—which begins Sept. 5 with an Art Walk poster show and ends Oct. 4 with Martin Dockery’s one-man production, The Dark Fantastic—will cram seven wildly different shows into one month.

In that span of time, audiences can also see a late-night improvised play dubbed Darts, drop by the 40th 48 Hour Theater Festival, view Ben Eisner’s “Hot Box” production—which will have been written and produced in one week—witness a film noir clown mystery by Deanna Fleysher, and show up for Krissa Woiwod’s second “Sketchopedia” adventure.

Apparently September is just a warm-up, as the small-but-mighty theater will also—in addition to featuring the aforementioned epic—be the place to see the annual serial tournament known as Serial Killers, a new piece by the Cody Rivers Show’s Mike Mathieu, a full-length rendition of Mary and Joeseph: A Bible Story, an original musical, and, golly, so much more.

But before all that theatrical goodness happens, the iDiOM Theater crew and, hopefully, many of its supporters, will gather in a York neighborhood backyard to eat dessert, sip libations and dance under the stars.

As for that saint business I talked about earlier, it turns out that you, too, can become a Patron Saint of the theater. By becoming a saint, you commit to donating anywhere from $4 (believer) to $16 (apostle) to $50 (angel) each month to the nonprofit, which then uses the funds to create new work, pay contributing artists and keep independent theater accessible to all. God, and Glenn, will thank you.

“We worked hard to design a season that put all our previous overambitious seasons to shame,” Hergenhahn-Zhao says. “There’s a little something for everyone from the hardest-working theater in the known world.”

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