Give Us Good

Annie Brunk performs in the original workshop production of Give Us Good, August 2012

Everyone has a monster. But Tom’s gets out of hand. He’s in danger, and so is everyone he loves. He takes to the road and arrives near death in a graveyard, where a pair of identical (?) brother/sister (?) twins (?) help him find strength, love, and a professional monster hunter.

Working from the prompt, “Write me a Victorian roadtrip bromance, with puppets”* Harrisonburg playwright Pam Mandigo has created a compelling, inventive, and hilarious story about facing our monsters and discovering the power of our own paths.

Come see this world premiere of Give Us Good, directed by Aili Huber, with original score by Michael Deaton, with movement direction by Holly Labbe.

Tickets: $35 general/$18 student. We also have complimentary tickets available for volunteers or those who need financial support to attend a show.

* In a workshop production a decade ago, the creative team discovered that the puppets are better in your own mind…It’s a BYOMonster situation.

This project is made possible, in part, through a grant from Arts Council of the Valley.

Q: Can I bring a kid to GIVE US GOOD?

A: Sure. We welcome anybody who wants to come. The run time is around 90 minutes or a little more, and people are welcome to fidget or get up and move around as long as they arent’ bothering other patrons.

Q: Is GIVE US GOOD appropriate for children?

A: That’s harder to answer. We believe that kids and families are all different. What’s right for one family might not be right for another. We also, philosophically, believe that plays can be one of the best ways to start important conversations with your children. But we don’t want parents to find themselves having conversations they weren’t ready for.

Here’s a rundown:

GIVE US GOOD takes place in a world where everyone has their own monster. Sometimes, the monster gets out of hand, and then you have to get a monster eater to help you.

The monsters are pretty clearly a metaphor for mental illness, but it’s not heavy-handed. Your child might only understand them as monsters, and that is fine. The monsters are imaginary. They’re created through sound and through the actors’ responses to them.

There is romance, both straight and gay. There is kissing, but no on-stage sex or nudity. One of the characters talks about sex, but only in very oblique terms (“Tom made love like kings make war.”).

There is one incident of violence depicted, when two men punch each other. There is also threatened violence. The monster-eater kills and butchers an imaginary monster. Several people’s deaths are described, but not graphically.

There is a lot of stage blood, but none spilled in anger.

The language doesn’t have much that would bother most people. There are a couple of “damns.”

About the creative team

Cast

  • Tom: Robby Gotschall
  • Amelia: Heidi Jablonski
  • Sambai: Amber James
  • Nezzar: Jacob Laitinen
  • Ronni: Nina Alabanza
  • Jebediah: Ethan Goodmansen

Aili Huber

Aili Huber has been directing for over 20 years, specializing in text-driven, audience-connected, actor-centered work. She holds an MFA from Mary Baldwin College/American Shakespeare Center, and is the co-author, with Toby Malone, of Cutting Plays for Performance, published by Routledge Press. She also has developed Take 5, a framework to reduce trauma for theater workers.

Favorite directing credits include TJ Young’s Sperm Donor Wanted with Slow Your Role Theater Co.,The Duchess of Malfi, Antony and Cleopatra, and Richard III with Pigeon Creek Shakespeare, and Merry Wives of Windsor at Quill Theatre.

Holly Labbe

Movement artist, costume designer, educator, MFA (Case Western Reserve University). Holly has been collaborating with theatre artists in the Shenandoah Valley since 2005. She has
worked with Bridgewater College, Eastern Mennonite University, Valley Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center, Wanderlust Theatre Company and Unreal City Theatre on a variety of
productions, including two productions that traveled to DC Capital Fringe Festivals. Additionally, her work has received both regional and national recognition by the Kennedy Center American
College Theater Festival.

Michael Deaton

Percussionist, composer, facilitator. Michael has been involved with many projects that have changed our community for the better, including co-founding Our Community Place, working on the Gus Bus, providing leadership at
the Furious Flower Creativity Camp, and founding The Growing Space in Dayton.

Pam Mandigo

Playwright, educator, and director Pam Mandigo creates stage magic in Harrisonburg and across the country. Her plays include Butchering Crows, Othello Remixed, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (with Ninjas), As You(r Mom) Likes It, Washed, and Armor on My Shoulders. Pam is a 2012 MacDowell Fellow, co-founder of The Great American Theater Company, and the new Head of School at Belle Meade Montessori School.

Design & Technical

Costume design by Heidi Jablonski. Construction assistance by Dallas Hetrick and Makayla Baker Paxton

Wound makeup by Erin Newman

Fight choreography by Robby Gotschall and Jacob Laitinen

Props design and sourcing by Amber James and Jacob Laitinen

Cast Bios

Nina Alabanza is a senior at Harrisonburg High school, where they have participated extensively in the theatre program. Some of their roles include Deirdre in Good Kids, Inspector Carter in The One-Act Play That Goes Wrong, and the Judge in Chicago. Nina is also trying their hand at directing their original play Prussian Blue, set to perform at HHS this spring. After high school, Nina plans to attend college to study film production with a focus in directing.

Ethan Goodmansen is an actor/singer from Hagerstown, Maryland. He is a first year student in Mary Baldwin University’s Shakespeare and Performance program and recent graduate of Southern Virginia University. He recently performed as Duke Senior in Four County Players’ production of As You Like It and as Nick Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at SVU. In addition to acting, Ethan has performed with several choral and operatic ensembles around the country. Ethan enjoys watching old movies, baking pizza, and reading.

Robert Gotschall is a Staunton-based actor. A recent MFA graduate of the Mary Baldwin University Shakespeare and Performance program, his most recent credits include Richmond Shakespeare Festival as Master Ford in “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” and Polaris Shakespeare Company as Coriolanus in “Coriolanus.”

Heidi Jablonski is delighted to be playing Amelia in Silk Moth Stage’s production of Give Us Good. Heidi has been acting with Inside Out Playback Theater for the last 7 years. She studied Peacebuilding, Theater, and Gender Studies at Eastern Mennonite University. Some favorite roles at EMU include Phoebe in As You Like It, Florinda in Into the Woods, and Miss Prism in The Importance of Being Earnest. Heidi was also seen in the Valley Playhouse’s productions of If There’s A Rock n’ Roll Heaven and The One More Last Chance Diner. Heidi is often found crafting fantastical stories with her husband, Caleb, and going for walks in downtown Harrisonburg with their 2 and 4-year-old daughters.

AMBER JAMES (she/her) is an Arizona girl turned Richmond-based actor, director, teacher, and international dog-spotter. She received her BFA in Classical Acting from Southern Utah University and her MLitt and MFA in Shakespeare and Performance from Mary Baldwin University. Her selected credits include MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR with Quill Theatre, THE GREENSHOW with Utah Shakespeare Festival, AS YOU LIKE IT with Prince George’s Shakespeare in the Parks, TARTUFFE with Perisphere Theater, THE CHERRY ORCHARD with Faction of Fools, THE SEAGULL with The Wheel Theatre Company, THE REVENGER’S TRAGEDY with Polaris Shakespeare Company, and THE FOREIGNER with SimonFest Theatre Co. Website: http://www.amberjames.art

Jacob Laitinen is an actor from the upper peninsula of Michigan. Jacob graduated from Northern Michigan University with a degree in Theatre Performance, and now attends Mary Baldwin University as a graduate student in the Shakespeare & Performance program. He is very excited to be working with this talented crew to bring you this original piece of theatre, and hope everyone in the audience enjoys the show.