Bloomington and the surrounding area are teeming with vibrant theater and performance companies, and each offers a distinctive program. Cardinal Stage Company’s season, for example, includes both modern and classic plays — often with a progressive twist, such as The Merchant of Venice performed last fall by an all-female cast. Various departments at Indiana University run the gamut of performance art — opera, dance, film, poetry, symphony, drama … the list is endless. And Bloomington Playwrights Project (BPP) is well-known for being the only professional theater in Indiana that focuses solely on new plays.
When filmmaker TJ Jaeger wanted to make a video on theater in Bloomington, he went to BPP and attended rehearsals of Row After Row, a dark comedy about Civil War re-enactors. Between rehearsals, he asked director David Anspaugh, set designer David Wade, and actors Emily Radke and Mike Sheehan to talk about their craft.
In Jaeger’s video, the cast and crew discuss more than just the play Row After Row. They talk about how all of the pieces and players fit together in such a production. They talk about the theater scene in Bloomington and in the broader world. And they talk about how art can help us make sense of what’s happening in the world.
As Wade puts it, “Local theater is important to not just Bloomington. It’s important to everybody. You’ve got to have art. You’ve got to have all arts, not just theater but visual arts and dance and film. You’ve got to have it all, because it’s our mirror to who we are.”
Here’s a partial listing of theater companies and venues that show the breadth and depth of performances:
Cardinal Stage Company
Bloomington Playwrights Project
The Jewish Theatre of Bloomington
Indiana University Department of Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance
Monroe County Civic Theater
Ivy Tech Student Productions
Bloomington High Schol North — North Theatre
Bloomington High School South — Theatre South
Indiana University Auditorium
Brown County Playhouse
Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center
The Back Door
Lee Norvelle Theatre and Drama Center