Chesapeake Press, Info, Photos

Read the Review from the Fresno Bee

The New Ensemble presents CHESAPEAKE just in time for presidential primaries.

Kerr wanted to transform politics.  Art transformed him.
Just as the presidential primaries heat up, The New Ensemble Theater Group opens its 2012 season with its politically driven comedy,CHESAPEAKE by Lee Blessing on January 6, 2012 at 8 p.m.  An hilarious tale of art, politics, dogs, and the meaning of life, CHESAPEAKE asks us to examine how we vote our consciences and to take a look at the type of people who represent us as artists and as politicians. 
 
When performance artist Kerr, known for his outrageous productions that include everything from Dada nihilism to Italian futurism to extravagant disrobing, is awarded a National Endowment of the Arts grant to further his artistic ambitions, he finds himself in the cross hairs of Senator Therm Pooley. Pooley is a conservative who has focused his re-election campaign on the elimination of federal funding for the arts. Kerr’s efforts to exact revenge on Senator Pooley form the crux of the play, a wild ride that includes kidnapping, canines and the possibility of past and future lives.
 
As our own political process ramps up, CHESAPEAKE is as timely as ever. With major candidates such as Mitt Romney promising “deep reductions in the subsidies for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Legal Services Corporation” (USA Today op-ed, 11/3/2011) issues of how we vote and the motivations of those for whom we vote are questions that run deep beneath the surface of our political life. Would culture cuts benefit us in a time of economic crisis? Or is now the time that culture becomes even more important for our national identity? And who really gets to decide? CHESAPEAKE is a smart, funny play that addresses this part of our national life in a sharp and focused way.
 
New Ensemble Member James Sherrill (The Pillowman) plays Kerr and every other character in this one-man tour de force. Anthony Rico Nan directs. With its mix of art, politics and dogs, CHESAPEAKE is a wonderfully funny and thoughtful beginning to The New Ensemble’s second season.
 
All performances of CHESAPEAKE will be performed at the Broken Leg Stage in Fresno’s historic Tower District, 1470 N. Van Ness between Floradora and McKinley.   Evening performances are January 6, 7, 12, 13 and 14 at 8 p.m. with Saturday matinees on January 7 and 14 at 2 p.m.  Tickets are $10 online or reserved in advance, and $12 walk-ins.  Thursday, January 12 is Cheap Seats Night with all tickets only $5. Reservations are recommended as the Broken Leg Stage only seats 50.  (559) 457-9613 for will-call reservations or www.newensemble.com for information or online tickets. 
 
The Word to the Voice to the Action…The New Ensemble Theater Group formed in January 2011, producing in a tiny store-front Tower District theater.  In just 12 months, TNE has produced four shows, five staged readings, and has  been called “some of the most exciting theater in town” by audiences and “one of Fresno’s dynamic small theater companies” by critics. TNE provides an engaging mix of contemporary and classical plays presented in a raw and intimate style for Fresno audiences–theatre that encourages a bold relationship between audience and actor.
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