A new play by a local author and adapter will take the stage at Theatre B in May. Based on the award-winning prose poetry of Carol Kapaun Ratchenski, A Beautiful Hell becomes accessible to a whole new audience in the form of a theatrical presentation at 7:30 p.m. May 30-June 1 and 2 p.m. June 2 at Theatre B.
Adapted by Laurie J Baker and performed by actors from Theatre B, A Beautiful Hell retains much of the integrity and expressive sensibility of the poetry, while embodying, interpreting, and bridging the complexities of sociology and psychology of grief.
A Beautiful Hell is an exploration of a particular death and a particular life that includes suffering and losses, some untimely, some not, each worthy of acceptance and curiosity and humor. The central narrative of a child’s death connects the audience to all the other ways that life does not go as planned and somehow, someway, we are all, sooner or later, left to find peace and go on to make oatmeal anyway.
A Beautiful Hell brings us to the place where we know for sure that life is wonderful and horrible, often at the same moment. And this juicy truth is the foundation of our shared humanity, a place where we connect honestly with each other and find compassion, empathy and damn good company on the path.
In 2016, A Beautiful Hell won the MANY VOICES PROJECT national book prize and was published by New Rivers Press. Poet and author Naomi Shinobe Nye, the final judge of the book, wrote: “A Beautiful Hell is searing, no-nonsense, brutal, gripping, brave. I could not turn away.”
Carol has been a clinical mental health counselor since 1993. She is also a Mediator, a Collaborative Divorce Law Coach, and a Compassionate Communication Trainer. The adapter, Laurie J Baker, has written several stage productions, both original and adaptations, including Prairie Women Songs for the Minot Commission on the Status of Women for the ND Bicentennial and The Trial of Susan B Anthony for the 75th anniversary of Women’s Suffrage. She has worked in journalism, communications management, and as a free-lance writer since the late 1970s.
With support from Humanities North Dakota, artists from Theatre B spent much of 2018 working with Ratchenski and Baker, reading and workshopping multiple drafts and seeking feedback from small, invited audiences. The play was performed in Grand Forks and Bismarck as part of the GameChanger Ideas Festival, and continued to evolve through those rehearsals and performances.
Now, with support from the Lake Region Arts Council, Theatre B will present A Beautiful Hell in its intimate venue in Moorhead. The play is directed by Carrie Wintersteen, Theatre B co-founder and Executive Director. “This is part of why Theatre B exists,” says Wintersteen. “Artists of all disciplines are vital to the health and vitality of any community. It’s important to lift them up, to encourage their creativity, and proudly share their work. A Beautiful Hell was a particularly rewarding and fruitful collaboration. The subject matter was challenging, yet the process was so joyful and constructive. All the artists invested themselves and shared their own experiences and ideas. I think we have created a new way of telling Carol’s story that will welcome a broad audience into her poetry, and remind us of what is universal and valuable.”
Venue: 215 10th Street N, Moorhead, MN 56560
Office: 1104 2nd Ave S, Suite 306, Fargo, ND 58103
701-729-8880 | www.theatreb.org
Presentations: Thursday, May 30 at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, May 31 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, June 1 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, June 2 at 2:00 p.m.
Sunday Salon Social and Discussion: Sunday, June 2 at 3:30 p.m.
For tickets and information, please visit www.theatreb.org/box-office
About Theatre B: The mission of Theatre B is to invigorate civic conversation through intimate and transformative story-telling. Since 2003, the Ensemble and guest artists of Theatre B have brought to life a wide variety of the latest award-winning plays and bold new works. By removing barriers between actor and audience, and intensifying the experience of intimacy, Theatre B productions inspire a sense of community, engage conversation, and prompt viewers to contemplate the stories long after they have left the theatre. For more information about Theatre B, visit www.theatreb.org. “Rearranging the furniture of your mind.”