Category: theater

Interview: Baron Von Raschke

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One of the great villains of professional wrestling from the mid-’60s through his 1994 retirement, Minnesota’s Baron Von Raschke terrorized opponents with his German-accented roar, scowling swagger, and signature move, a punishingly painful head-grab known as “The Claw.” Outside the ring, though, he’s Jim Raschke, a quick-witted, gentlemanly, and surprisingly humble schoolteacher and father. The two sides of Raschke both get their due in a new stage play, The Baron. The comedy, playing at St. Paul’s History Theatre through May 20 and narrated by the Baron himself, covers the Baron’s career from neophyte to king of the ring. The A.V. Club’s Twin Cities editor sat down to chat with the Baron, wife Bonnie Raschke, and playwright Cory McLeod.

Originally published April 19, 2007 on Read the complete article.

Getting Away to It All: Storyteller Jim Stowell

Jim Stowell will literally go halfway around the world just to get a good story. A prominent force in the local theater community for thirty-five years, the actor and playwright has developed a specialty in the last decade and a half as a master monologuist. His deeply personal tales—funny, angry, politically aware, and wry—draw from his experiences in places like Cuba, Nicaragua, and the Amazon. His current project, Family Values, was originally produced at Bryant-Lake Bowl Theater in 1999. (You may also have seen him that year in the Jungle’s Macbeth.) Family Values depicts Stowell’s experiences growing up in a small Texas town on the Mexican border, and his late-nineties trip to war-torn Northern Ireland. The play explores why people hate each other, and why anger in the blood so often leads to the spilling of blood. Like many of us, Stowell found his perspective on that subject irrevocably altered in September 2001, and he decided to completely overhaul the play in light of the way we live and feel now.

The RAKE: The original version of Family Values was, to some extent, about the Cold War. You begin with boys throwing rocks at each other, and end with Americans and Soviets threatening to shoot rockets at each other.

STOWELL: That was the original concept, that direction. Guys in jets doing exactly the same thing as those boys. But we got to talking about that ending, and Richard Cook, the director, said, “Because of the changes in the world, I’m already way ahead of that business with the atomic stuff. We’ve just zoooomed past all those things.” And I agreed with him. We’ve completely redone the ending.

Originally published Oct. 23, 2003 in Rake Magazine. Read the complete article.

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