“WE NEED TO raise funds if we’re going to sustain our growth.”
The words of Jamie Weeder, the cofounder and director of Upper Peninsula Shakespeare Festival and Wolf’s Head Theater Company.
So begins a campaign to identify arts-loving individuals and businesses who will put the two relatively new theater groups on firmer financial ground. The Shakespeare company started in 2015; Wolf’s Head, featuring more modern plays, debuted in 2018.
Both currently operate on shoestring budgets.
In the new campaign, both have been branded as “Theatre with a bite.” Catchy. And true. Their productions are neither fun nor frolicky nor heartwarming. No musicals. They challenge you, they make you think.
Are there enough Marquette residents and businesses out there with an appreciation of that kind of theater…and with enough money to help sustain it? And not just through ticket sales, but with substantial donations as “friends” of the theater?
We’ll soon find out as letters drawn up by Weeder and her Board of Directors go out and the in-person pitches are made.
A tough environment. There are already a few other successful, skilled and better-funded theater groups in the community, albeit with a distinctly different identity.
Weeder and her two companies just want to be part of the future in Marquette. They want to challenge us. They want to make us think.
SPEAKING OF CULTURE, we’re in the midst of Two Books Two Communities, a month-long collaboration between NMU, and the residents of Marquette and Munising.
All of them reading Harborless by poet Cindy Hunter Morgan, and The Living Great Lakes: Searching for the Heart of the Inland Seas by Jerry Dennis.
In the past, only Marquette had taken part. This year it’s both towns.
Throughout the month, both of the writers will be making presentations but there will also be sessions on kayaking, lighthouses, an underwater preserve, maritime history, and a “Poetry Splash Open Mic.”
Yeah, we love our beer fest and our blues fest but we’ve also got room for reading and learning. That remarkable combination is why so many of us love Marquette.
Seriously, we can all read while drinking a beer, can’t we?
SPEAKING OF MUNISING and the blues.
Saturday night it was electric at the newly opened Gallery Coffee Company. Not much coffee was served, and the huge, gorgeous nature photographs on the walls were little more than a slight diversion on this night.
Instead, it was all about the acclaimed BB King Blues Band performing for a few hundred, sometimes raucous blues-loving fans. A wonderful opportunity for owners Tom and Ana Dolaskie (and out-of-state owner Darrin Hubbard) to showcase their newest creation, the Gallery Coffee Company, an expansive, finely crafted space, ostensibly devoted to coffee, baked goods, and the aforementioned nature photographs.
But this is where it becomes very interesting. This has the potential to become so much more than a coffee shop.
A concert venue. An event space. Something special for the people of Munising and the surrounding communities.
Tom Dolaskie concedes with a smile, “We’ve got ideas. We’ve got plans.”
One of the excited concert-goers Saturday night said, with only mild exaggeration, “This is the best thing that’s ever happened to Munising!”