Valparaiso’s Chicago Street Theatre Nationally Recognized by American Association of Community Theatre

Valparaiso’s Chicago Street Theatre Nationally Recognized by American Association of Community Theatre
By: Dan Petreikis Last Updated: May 21, 2016

Trudy and Enola have had their differences over the years, that’s for certain, with arguments about everything from religion to lifestyle to childhood resentments. And Lord knows that trying to keep the doors open to Graces’ Place, the run-down laundromat they own and operate in New Orleans, can’t be easy, either. Especially dealing with characters like Uncle Slack, the shell-shocked veteran and former POW, who occasionally stops by the laundromat to sit and watch the ladies’ underwear as it spins in the (sometimes working) dryers… when he’s not out holding up the local bank for booze money. Still, it’s a life they’ve come to accept.

Or, at least it was, until they meet Arlene, the talented artist who works down at Voodoo Tattoo. But what role will Arlene play in the sisters’ troubled lives? Will she help them get the laundromat back on its feet? Will she help keep Uncle Slack from robbing the bank? Will she even stay at the Voodoo, or will she pass through, leaving nothing but a memory?

These are the questions posed in the world premier production of one of the American Association of Community Theatre (AACT) NewPlayFest winning scripts, Wash, Dry, Fold, directed by Traci Brant and Jonni Pera, playing now through June 4, 2016 at Chicago Street Theater in Valparaiso.

“We applied to the AACT, a national organization, to be accepted into their NewPlayFest, and we were chosen to be one of just seven theaters across the country, each selected to present one of seven winning plays, written by participating playwrights,” said Brant. “This is a world premier production, and we are very proud and excited to be selected by the AACT to be part of this, and to be able to present this wonderful play to the community.”

Chicago Street Theatre (CST) has been presenting plays to the Valparaiso community for 60 years, and have been in their current location for the last 18 years.

“We’re in the national spotlight with this production,” said Eric Brant, Traci’s husband and Director of marketing for CST in Valparaiso. “We’re very excited to be able to host this play here, and it’s all made possible by a generous grant from the Jack K. Ayre and Frank Ayre Theater Foundation Lee endowment.”

Eric says that the grant will go towards production and operating costs for the play.

“We’re a volunteer theater. We’re dependent on grants, ticket sales and donations to be able to continue to present quality theater to the community. With this play, this grant, we are a nationally-recognized group,” said Eric.

Playwright Nedra Pezold Roberts, a New Orleans native, was in the house for opening night.

“This play is close to my heart,” said Roberts. “My favorite character is Uncle Slack. In my mind, I see him as King Lear’s fool. He sees things other people don’t see, and he says things that are true, even if they’re not rational.”

Roberts is excited to have been picked as one of the seven nationally-recognized playwrights to have been selected, and is excited to see her characters come to life.

“You never really know, when you’re alone at home, in front of your computer writing, what’s going to work,” said Roberts. “This allows a playwright to see her characters come alive, off the page. It’s a miracle, to see these actors take what we’ve written and bring it to life. That’s the only way to see if a play really works. You have to have the audience – they have the final comment on what works and what doesn’t.”

Still wondering what happens when Arlene walks into Grace’s Place and into the lives of Trudy and Enola? Well, you’re in luck – there’s still time to catch Wash, Dry, Fold at Chicago Street Theatre, with shows running through June 4th.

For tickets and showtimes, visit http://www.chicagostreet.org/wash-dry-fold/