Actor’s Factory Production Retells Classic Literature With Twist

(Originally published by Connect Stoughton by Victoria Vlisides on March 5, 2011.)

3/5/2011 6:00:00 AM
Actor’s Factory production retells classic literature with twist
Performances at Opera House start March 11
Victoria Vlisides
Unified Newspaper Group

Sherlock Holmes assures the owner of the Baskerville Disco that his [sic] glitter is 100 percent safe. Pictured are (from left): Ben Otto, Hannah Craig and Robin Delaquess.

If you go

What: “Novel Ideas,” a collection of short plays and monologues
Who: Actor’s Factory youth dance company
Where: Stoughton Opera House, 381 E. Main St.
When: March 11-12 at 7:30 p.m. and March 13 at 2:30 p.m.
Cost: Admission is free; a $5 donation is recommended

An area youth theatre company will present its eighth annual production, “Novel Ideas,” next weekend at the Stoughton Opera House.

Performing short plays and monologues based on storytelling and novels throughout history, kids in the Actor’s Factory have a chance to act in works written specifically for the group by local playwrights.

“Seeing what the kids had done in the past had inspired the writers,” explained Deanna Reed, a 12-year resident of Stoughton and the founder of Actor’s Factory.

Reed started the Factory in a “grass-roots” effort to bring her theatrical expertise to interested youth. With a bachelor’s in theatre and having studied acting in Chicago as a post grad, she says kids are learning skills that go beyond the stage.

“The shy kids that I work with learn to find their voice,” she said. “They learn how to bring out different sides of themselves … and discover they have parts they didn’t know they existed.”

Attesting to that is Julia Rymut of Madison. Her son, Devlin Murphy, has been in the company for three years.

“She has a lot of classical theatre techniques. Learning those techniques have been fabulous for Devlin and also transfers to his public speaking,” she said.

The works, performed by the 13 youth – including four from Stoughton – are a collection of four short plays and two monologues that are comedic but have some serious parts, Reed said.

That’s a change from last year’s dramatic, mutiple-act play, but Reed said the performances stick with a theme of storytelling. That’s what the kids themselves voted to portray.

“It’s nice when you have multiple plays that connect and help you feel like you’ve seen something complete,” she explained.  “They are in different styles of comedies: farcical, comic drama – the most serious piece is ‘Based on a True Story.’ But it has a hefty amount of comedy in it.”

That short play examines how modern technology and a lack of interest in the facts lead us to morph stories to fit our individual needs. Written by Actor’s Factory alumnus Nolan Veldey, it strangely parallels the current events at the Capitol even though it was written long before the protests started, Reed explained.

The three other 10-minute plays are twists on well-known tales – “Pride and Prejudice,” “Don Quixote” and Sherlock Holmes stories.

“Mask And Masculinity,” is a retelling of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” from the men’s point of view and is written by Doug Reed.

“It has twists in it that are unexpected but still fit with the novel,” Deanna Reed said.

“Don Q Learns to Keep it Real,” features Don Quixote’s great-great grandson, who finds an old trunk of his and gets inspired – but things don’t go as expected. It’s by local playwright Terese Kattner, in her trademark satirical style.

“Groovy Mystery Theater Episode 4: Danger Has Red Hair,” is a funky 1970s cop show based on the original by Sherlock Holmes, written by playwright Christian Neuhaus.

In addition, the two monologues performed are written by Actor’s Factory alumni Isaac Walker and Rheannon Lyons. One personifies a book begging to be read and the other further investigates the endeavors of a few Harry Potter characters.

“This year, we hopefully leave them laughing,” Reed said about the performances as a whole.

The show is about two hours with an intermission. In the past, Reed said, they’ve drawn crowds of about 400 people throughout the weekend. Actor’s Factory comprises kids ages 12-18, most of whom are homeschooled, as practices tend to be during regular school hours.

Stoughton performers are: Ilsa Reed, Laszlo Reed, Robin Gee, and Jessie Drause.

Performances are Friday, March 11 and Saturday, March 12 at 7:30 p.m. with and March 13 at 2:30 p.m. at the Stoughton Opera House, 381 E. Main St. Admission is free; a $5 donation is recommended.

To learn more about the show, visit or