Backstage Review—Take Five II at Brüka Theater

~By Norm Robins~

~Photos by Norm Robins~

Take Five was performed Friday and Saturday nights, January 12 and 13, 2020, and what a couple of nights they were. It seemed like all the artistic talent in Northern Nevada lined up to help Brüka with its second annual Take Five fundraiser.

Emceed by the effervescent major-domo of the Brüka Theater Mary Bennett, Take Five II kicked off with their version of the Marquis of Queensbury rules: Five minutes for each speaker. At 4 minutes and 30 seconds a bell, much like one you would see on a hotel’s front desk summoning a bellhop, would be rung. At 5 minutes a bulb on a horn would be squeezed causing a sound reminiscent of a goose in heat. It was strident enough to wake the dead. Everyone but Lewis Zaumeyer, architect extraordinaire and resident set designer, carpenter, and painter, honored this rule. Not Lew. He ran over. Lew invoked an impromptu raising-of-the hands election, the kind Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe would be proud of. Lew took a hurried count, claimed a dubious victory, and moved on. He claimed cheating on the part of the timekeeper. Sure.


Connie Wray opened the event with “how to reinvent yourself” followed by Mary Bennett pinch hitting for Marissa Cooper of the Nevada Museum of Art, who was out with pneumonia, on “how to resurrect a classic artist”. Jeff Johnson followed demonstrating the art of neon lighting. It was electrifying. Joe Garton gave us insights into how leading a poverty stricken life lessens his student’s academic achievement. Tia Flores took us on a boating trip on the Amazon River. Costume designer Deborah Morrison gave a tutorial and dazzling display of her costumes. Jesse James Ziegler, Brüka poet in residence, showed us the steps one takes to create a group poem using audience participation. Britton Griffith, candidate for City Council for Ward 1, proving even politicians can be normal, likable people, showed us how to survive a networking event. Zaumeyer did his thing (see above). Kelsey Sweet showed us how to be an artists’ model. She discussed modeling in the nude but didn’t show us probably because the theater and surrounding environs were very cold. Modeling, nude or otherwise, is a lot more difficult than one would think at first blush. For those interested in that sort of thing, Janice Oberding taught us how to speak to the dead. It is a lot easier than one would think at first blush. Professional photographer Bill Quinby advised us on how to frame a photo. He spoke to us through an empty picture frame to make his points. Will Truce taught us how to make mead, a honey concoction that probably precedes beer. He discussed carbonation but didn’t tell us anything about fermentations that occasionally explode. Brian Jenson talked about hair dressing.

And the star of Friday’s show was the last presenter Chris Daniels, opening next Friday in The Return of Ginger Devine at Good Luck Macbeth, showing us how to be a diva. Diva he told us comes from the Latin word for goddess. He belted out his performance with boundless energy and talent that rocked the room.


Jessi Lamay showed us how to create a family heirloom from the people and the objects at hand. Jon Potter discussed tattoo that he pronounced tat-TOO despite Mary Bennett saying TA-too. On which SYL-able or syl-ABLE should the AC-cent or ac-SENT go? Who knows? Susan Mazer played an all too short piece on her harp. And then there’s the art of the crawl. The Wine Crawl or the Beer Crawl? Actually, wine drinkers walk. It’s beer drinkers who crawl. The Santa Crawl, the Pirate Crawl, the Zombie Crawl? Naw, it’s none of those very pedestrian crawls. It’s the Literary Crawl, and it’s coming up September 12th. Now that’s class. Rob Gaedtke talked about how to create a family brand. Yes, families have brands. They don’t have AT&T globes, Nike swooshes, or Amazon taco-eating smiley faces, but they do have brands. Thomas Lloyd Qualls talked about myths and how to create one. Why not? Every culture has them. Somebody creates them. And Grant Denton belted out a metabolism raising presentation on how to go about creating boffo karma. This was a good time for an intermission break and a moment of post-heart throbbing unwinding.

Reese Kvall, cute as a button and muscular as a gymnast, to the oohs and aahs and gasps of the audience did some death-defying drops from high up on two silk strands of curtain. The art of advocating was presented by Jeromy Manke. And more fun than a barrel of monkeys was John Wade showing us burlesque and his able assistant Riley McKinney taking a few of her clothes off in an eminently tasteful striptease. David King, who could probably incinerate a small city in 10 minutes, showed the scary Artcar that carries 2 gallons of propane and the contraptions needed to inflame them and throw them way up in the air. Director Holly Natwora gave us dramatic presentations on different viewpoints call for interpretations. She was aided by the boundlessly talented Riley McKinney who features prominently in the pictures nearby. The evening closed with Cami Thompson leading the audience in a rousing variation on “Three Blind Mice”. The audience composed their own lyrics to this melody and sang them with gusto.

This was the second annual performance of “Take Five”. For those who attended and those who didn’t, go see this show next year. It is the community entertaining itself. It is the community funding its own entertainment. It is the highest form of art and the most noble.


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