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A Gentle Ebbing Away

Patrick Spradlin

Feb 23, 2023

ART Presents The Outgoing Tide

ART Presents The Outgoing Tide

In the second production of Actors Repertory Theatre’s work, Bruce Graham’s ‘The Outgoing Tide’ will perform March 8-11 in the Dryden Theatre on the campus of Central Lakes College. All performances will be at 7 p.m.

The production marks the first in a newly-minted partnership between ART and the Central Lakes Community Performing Arts Center. CLCPAC provides facilities and logistical support for the work of ART, with future productions slated for early summer, mid-autumn and a Christmas show.

‘The Outgoing Tide’ tells the story of Gunner, a pragmatic man facing a terrible future in late life. He has developed a plan to secure the needs of his family---Peg, his lifelong love, and son Jack, whose relationship with Gunner has been anything but ideal. When Gunner reveals his plans to his family he’s met with strong resistance, who have plans of their own.

Director Beth Selinger says of the play, “While the word ‘Alzheimer’s is never mentioned, it’s clear that this is the health challenge facing Gunner. Graham’s play presents a family coming to grips with a disease that devastates not only the patient, but all those who know and love him.”

The play is told with a good deal of humor and compassion. “(It)..brings sensitive observation and minor-key humor to painful situations that many of us will recognize from our own families”---New York Times. “Superb…tightly focused drama…Graham zeroes in on recognizable truths”---Chicago Tribune.

“The characters are well-drawn, the dialogue is pungent…may well flood your emotions with its emotional truth”---BackStage.

Playing Gunner is Patrick Spradlin, one of the founding members of ART and recently-retired instructor/director at Central Lakes College. Playing his family are two ART newcomers: Barb McColgan, known to local audiences for her roles in plays such as ‘Nunsense,’ ‘Steel Magnolias,’ ‘Scotland Road,’ ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ and ‘The Crucible;’ and Brian Rhett, seen on local stages in productions such as ‘Wait Until Dark,’ ‘Bye Bye Birdie,’ ‘Elf,’ and ‘A Christmas Carol.’

Spradlin noted that the role of Gunner is not a comedic role, even though the character will generate a good deal of laughter. “He’s a man who has a wry sense of humor, and uses that sense to help him through what he’s facing,” said Spradlin.

“The play in no way makes fun of dementia patients, even though there are plenty of laughs. It’s a poignant play, as one might expect, told with real heart. I have a

tough time beating back my own tears, which says a lot, especially if you know me.”

McColgan says she has found this experience has challenged her abilities, as she’s more comfortable playing comedic roles. “It’s been thought-provoking. My mother had Alzheimers, and I’m now of the age the character Peg is in the play. I’m very aware of the reality of the play; it hits home. It’s also provided conversation between my husband and me as to what each of us would want were we to find ourselves

in that situation.”

Rhett says that the work with ART and this play has been a great learning opportunity. “For me, it’s a great opportunity to learn a lot from the company members, and to widen my acting range. It’s been a big adjustment for me to alter some of my acting idiosyncrasies to fit the play. And the subject of the play makes you focus on subject matter and realities that you know are real, but that you’d really rather ignore.”

The set for the play was designed by Tim Leagjeld. Heidi Eckwall designed the lighting. Curtis Jendro provided sound effects. Steve Anderson and Isabelle Corrigan will provide live music as segues and underscoring.

Actors Repertory Theatre was founded by Spradlin and Selinger, along with technical coordinator Curtis Jendro. The company’s focus is on the work of the actor. They choose productions that will challenge actor and audience alike, presenting works that are unlikely to be seen at any other local theatres.

In addition to their commitment to actors, ART is dedicated to giving back to the community. For the production of ‘The Outgoing Tide’ Karole Wagner, RN, will be conducting talk-back sessions following each performance. Wagner works primarily wit geriatric and memory care patients and has herself lost a parent to Alzheimers.

The company will also be contributing to local chapters of The Walk to End Alzheimers and will have volunteer walkers from local groups present at all performances to answer questions and distribute informational literature. A donation bucket will be available each night, and ART encourages

contributions from audience.

For tickets to ‘The Outgoing Tide’ go to the Actors Repertory website, Donations to the Walk to End Alzheimers can also be made there. Those wishing more information on the production or the company can call (218) 833-2350.

This production is made possible in part by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Five Wings Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

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