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                             Photo by Arthur Cohen

                            Photo by Arthur Cohen

Warren Kliewer called his theatre poems “a glimpse into the private lives of a public art form.” This exuberant spoken-word performance also glimpses into the private and public lives of the author, who grew up in rural Minnesota—in a community of German-speaking Mennonites whose values and traditions condemned frivolous secular pursuits.

Kliewer was a much-published poet and essayist before he ran away to join the theatre as actor, director, playwright, and producer. The conflicting pulls of those dramatic talents and his heritage inform these offerings. From a nightmare-ridden scenic designer to a day-dreaming gardener, from a bewildered New York playwright to a stubborn Kansas farm wife: these poems are tiny one-acts of compelling drama and insightful comedy.

The 35 poems in Places, Please, Act One call upon Michèle to portray 41 characters. One hour long, the performance is simply staged and adaptable to most spaces. An optional talk back explores theatre and/or the poems’ origins.

AUDIENCE APPEAL
General theatre audiences, high school and up; poetry and spoken-word venues, conferences, and festivals; college/university theatre, literature, and religion departments; libraries.

PRODUCTION HISTORY
Warren Kliewer (1931–1998) wrote, taught, and/or published poetry for five decades. Selections in Places, Please, Act One come from an unpublished manuscript of that name, and from two published volumes: Liturgies, Games, Farewells; and Red Rose and Grey Cowl.

In 2002, Michèle was asked to read a few of the unpublished poems during an evening of verse produced by the East Lynne Theater Company (Cape May, New Jersey). Their enthusiastic reception led to Michèle’s expanded presentation, which she premiered a year later at Cornelia Street Café, a popular New York City performance venue. Following that evening’s success, Michèle collaborated with director-dramaturge Cliff Goodwin to hone the script for presentation by New York's selective New Dramatists, of which Kliewer had been a member. Click here to read the reviews.