Sunday, January 21, 2018

Rosa Red—The Broken Planetarium—SE Portland


     This staged reading is written, staged and music by Laura Christiania Dunn, based on a true story.  It will be given a full production in May at the Clinton Street Theater.  For more information, go to their site at 

     Love may be the strongest word, on the positive side of the spectrum, to express a feeling for another.  But Friendship certainly should run a close second.  And, being a friend, does not always mean you agree on everything, but that you can at least “agree to disagree.”  It means, in part, appreciating and respecting the other person for who they are.  But when there is turmoil all around you and it may mean death to walk a certain path, that kind of friendship is strained to the max.
Such was the case with Rosa Luxemburg (Melia Tichenor) and her best friend, Sophie Liebknecht (Laura Dunn).  Germany and Russia were not friendly places to be during the early to mid 1900’s, especially if you were of Jewish heritage and a political outspoken Marxist.  Decisions must be made and friendship could not stand in the way of what one truly believed, regardless of the consequences.  Add to the cast Rebekah Stiles reading the stage directions.

     There is a famous poem by Robert Frost about a person having to choose between two paths that led through a forest and having to choose which one to take—the one much used, or the one “less traveled by.”  And that crossroad, and your choice of which path to take, can make all the difference in your life.  These two ladies had that same kind of choice to make.

     Rosa and her husband, Leo (Kyle Huth, also Music Director), were revolutionaries and would spend much of their lives in prison. Sophie believed that being a mother and bringing another generation into this world was her role in life, but she did question what sort of world would it be then.  Also her husband, Karl (Eli Ronick), was of the same mind as her friends, so her choice to stand her ground was made even more difficult.
     I can’t tell you more without revealing plot devices but what raises this concept a couple notches above the norm, is how the friendship between these two women endured, mainly through letters, and the humor that still existed in their lives, giving atmosphere of these harsh times a lighter note on occasion.  Also, the original music and songs by Dunn, and the plethora of instruments the cast played, really does give it an edge, as they are quite impressive.
I recommend seeing the full production in May, as they are going to add dancers to the show and will probably expand the script and cast.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.


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