Des Moines Spotlight Series: Meet Allison Bollinger of WONDER OF THE WORLD at Tallgrass Theatre Company
The coronavirus continues to keeps theatres across the United States closed, including our favorite theatres here in Des Moines and the surrounding area. Our goal is to highlight artists, theatre companies, and other arts organizations and the impact that the closures have had. So we are continuing our weekly series spotlighting artists from various local productions.
We continue our artist spotlight series with Allison Bollinger from Tallgrass Theatre Company's production of "Wonder of the World" by David Lindsay-Abaire, which was getting ready to open on March 27. The production was canceled with the plan to present it another season.
DC Felton (DF): What would you like readers to know about your theatrical background?
Allison Bollinger (AB): When I say that I was born into theatre, that is no exaggeration. My mother, Denise Bollinger, was an equity choreographer for many years and still choreographs regularly in the local community. My father, Michael Bollinger, is an Executive Artistic Director. He ran the Arrow Rock Lyceum Theater, which is a summer stock equity theater located in Arrow Rock, Missouri, for over 25 years. He now works for the Bartlett Performing Arts Center in Bartlett, Tennessee. The theater has been a passion of mine for my entire life. I received my BA in Theater Performance and Theater for Youth from the University of Northern Iowa. I stayed in the Cedar Falls and Waterloo communities for many years and was lucky enough to have some amazing opportunities in theatre there. I just moved back to Des Moines at the beginning of 2018 and have performed in over 40 productions to date.
(DF): What production(s) were you involved with when word went out you needed to immediately postpone/cancel the show?
(AB): I was in the final weeks of rehearsal for Wonder of the World at Tallgrass Theater Company. I was playing Cass, a young wife who finds out a pretty dark and troubling secret her husband has been keeping from her. She decides to leave for Niagara Falls, a trip she's always wanted to take and cross off all of the items on her bucket list. If it sounds like a drama, I promise it's not, it'll have you falling out of your seat with laughter.
(DF): How was the shutdown communicated with the cast and production team?
(AB): I could not have asked for a more amazing production team or group of fellow actors to work alongside. Our production team gathered everyone involved together to tell us the sad news. There were many crying faces. Everyone is so supportive and put their hearts and souls into this production.
(DF): Are plans in place to present that production at a future date, or is the cancellation permanent?
(AB): Right now, the performances are canceled, but with every intent to revive the production as soon as our current situation will allow. "Wonder of the World" was meant to be the farewell performance for Tallgrass in their current performance venue at Rex Mathes Auditorium. Since they are still in search of a new performance space, unfortunately, we cannot make any decisions at this time about rescheduling dates. Everyone is fully dedicated to bringing this production to life, whenever that may be.
(DF): What future productions on your schedule are also affected by the shutdown?
(AB): I will be doing the tap choreography for Spamalot at ACTORS in Ames this summer, and they have had to make some postponement choices as well. They will be releasing information soon about any changes they may be making. There are other productions that were meant to go up this summer that I have interest in, but those theater companies have not made any public announcements about postponements or cancellations at this time.
(DF): How are you keeping the Arts alive while at home by using social media or other online sites?
(AB): I have fully enjoyed watching my fellow acting friends post daily inspiration and motivation to keep their community involved and excited for what's to come when we can all create art publicly again. I've seen people posting daily theater questions on social media to keep people engaged and sharing. I am also part of a group on Facebook called Quarantine Cabaret that is 35.5K people strong! What an awesome way to bring as many theater artists together as possible to share and collaborate during these troubling times.
(DF): What thoughts would you like to share with the rest of the Des Moines Theatre community while we are all leaving the Ghostlight on and promising to return back to the stage soon?
(AB): Continue to love and support those around you, in any way you can. Use this time to work on your craft, try something new, and take care of your mind, body, and soul. And when this is all over, go out and support local theater, we will all be better for it.
Tallgrass Theatre Company has been performing at Rex Mathes Auditorium for the last 13 years. This last fall, they were informed that their rental contract would not be renewed. They are currently looking for a new home for their theatre. To find out more about their search visit http://www.tallgrasstheatre.org/newhome
If you are an artist in Des Moines or the surrounding communities and would be willing to answer a few questions about how this shutdown has affected you, please reach out to us.
Interview by DC Felton
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