Trading Bingo for the Theater

June 19, 2014 Wisconsin Public Television Leave a Comment

This week on Director’s Cut we’re talking some Homer. Before you Simpsons fans get too excited, I should clarify and say ‘Homer the Greek poet’ and the two filmmakers who celebrate his work in this week’s film “Penelope: A Theatrical Odyssey”. “Penelope” is a documentary directed and produced by Brad Lichtenstein which is based on the play by professor Anne Basting. Both of them join us on the set. It’s safe to say that these two probably had an ‘on-set’ romance since they have an ‘off-set’ romance as husband and wife.

Crew filming the documentary Penelope A Theatrical Odyssey“Penelope” tells the story of a group of actors who perform in a nursing home for the residents. In addition to entertaining the elderly, the ‘cast’ of Penelope actually draws from the pool of residents and gives many of them roles in the film. As the movie reveals, there are some diamonds in the rough in this joint, as some of these folks have real talent. Basting got the idea for the film to help combat dementia and she seemed very happy with the results. I was amazed at how the residents, some of them wheelchair bound, not only took to the idea of being in a play but also to having the entire process filmed. Overall, it seemed to be a very rewarding and cathartic experience.

This may be the first time Brad and Anne have worked together, but they are accomplished in their fields. Lichtenstein is a seasoned, award-winning documentary director whose credits include, “As Goes Janesville” and “Almost Home”. Basting is a Ph.D. and Professor of Theatre at the Peck School of the Arts at UW-Milwaukee.

Tune in to see my interview with this talented couple Friday night on Wisconsin Public Television. Hope to see you then!

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